Scrapbookpages Blog

April 16, 2014

The little known fate of the Sudeten Germans

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:21 pm

I am expanding on a comment written on my blog by one of my regular readers.  This quote is from the comment:  “The Sudeten Germans were robbed, persecuted and occasionally murdered by the Prague regime before the Munich Agreement. After the war, the Sudeten Germans were raped, murdered and hideously tortured in large numbers. Then all the survivors were expelled from the country.”

You don’t hear much about the suffering of the Sudeten Germans, although the Munich Agreement is frequently mentioned on comedy shows on TV, as jokes are made about Hitler taking all of Czechoslovakia after he was given the Sudentenland, following World War II.  (The word Sudeten will not go through the wordpress spell checker. This goes to show you how little is known about the Sudeten Germans.)

Fortress at Terezin with Sudeten mountains in the backgroun

Fortress at Terezin with Sudeten mountains in the background

Before I went to the Czech Republic several years ago, I did a lot of research on the subject and wrote about it on my website.  The following information is from my website scrapbookpages.com.

Theresienstadt (now called Terezin) was right on the dividing line between the Sudetenland and the remaining part of Czechoslovakia, with the demarcation line being immediately alongside the town’s fortifications, shown in the photo above. When the Sudetenland was given to the Germans in the Munich agreement, there were 25,000 Jews living there, who fled across the border into the town of Theresienstadt; some of them took temporary refuge in the Small Fortress at Theresienstadt.

Eduard Benes, who replaced Masaryk as president of Czechoslovakia in 1935, had been opposed to the Germans in World War I. During the period between wars, Benes was a strong supporter of the League of Nations and was active in trying to prevent Germany from regaining military power. As an opponent of Fascism, Benes had complained to the League of Nations many times when Hitler began to violate the terms of the Versailles Treaty by rearming and placing troops in the Rhineland on the border between France and Germany.

The Munich “appeasement” of Hitler was intended to prevent another world war, but soon afterwards, Hitler demanded the resignation of Benes, his unrelenting opponent, who was agitating against the German takeover of the Sudetenland. In an effort to maintain peace, Benes resigned and went to England where he set up a Czech government in exile.

On March 14, 1939, following the resignation of Benes, Slovakia declared itself an independent state under the rule of Father Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest and a Nazi supporter. On the following day, the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia and took over the rest of the country without a fight. The states of Bohemia and Moravia, which had been dominated by the Germans for centuries under the Holy Roman Empire, became a German Protectorate. The Czech town of Terezin became once again a German town, and the name was changed back to the original name of Theresienstadt.

Great Britain, France and Italy assumed responsibility for the conflict in Czechoslovakia since they had signed the Treaty of Versailles which ended the war and stripped the Germans and Austrians of a big chunk of their former territories. Czechoslovakia had become a country as a result of that treaty. America also fought on the side of the Allies in World War I, but did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles because it included the League of Nations, which the American Congress voted not to join.

Austria-Hungary and Germany both signed an Armistice based on the Fourteen Points proposed by Woodrow Wilson, the American President during the war years. One of the key points was self-determination which meant that all ethnic groups had the right to determine the country in which they would live. This point of Wilson’s Fourteen Points was violated by the Treaty of Versailles when half a million Poles and a million Hungarians, along with three and a half million ethnic Germans became citizens of the new country of Czechoslovakia, which was dominated by the Czechs.

In answer to Hitler’s complaints, the British formed a commission to study the problem. This resulted in the Munich agreement, signed on Sept. 30, 1938 between Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain, in which the borderland known as the Sudetenland, with its predominantly German population, was given to Germany. There were also 45,000 Jews living in the Sudetenland who were handed over to Hitler as a result of the Munich appeasement.

The Sudetenland had formerly been part of the Austrian Empire but by 1938, Austria was part of the new Greater German Reich created by Hitler in the Anschluss with Austria. The unification of Germany and Austria had been expressly forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles, but the Allies did not protest this violation of the treaty. The Czech government did not have a say in the Munich agreement, since the country of Czechoslovakia was not in existence before the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

The Czechs fought as partisans against the Fascists in World War II, even sending men from England into Czechoslovakia by parachute to assassinate a top Nazi, SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. According to Ben G. Frank in his book entitled “A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe,” over 50% of the Czech partisans were Jews.

After Slovakia split off into an independent country, it became an ally of the German Fascists. The rest of the small states in Czechoslovakia were taken over by Poland and Hungary to bring their former citizens back into their respective countries in accordance with Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Hungary became a Fascist ally of Germany, but there was still an ongoing dispute between Germany and Poland over the territory which Germany had lost to Poland after World War I. Germany had been divided into two parts, separated by the Polish Corridor which was created to give the Poles access to the port of Danzig.

Once again, Hitler used the excuse that ethnic Germans were being mistreated and discriminated against when he invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 after efforts to resolve the problem peacefully had failed. Allegedly, 58,000 ethic Germans had been killed since April 1939 when the Germans first started trying to negotiate for a right-of-way across the Polish Corridor. Without a highway or railroad through the Corridor, the Germans could only access the eastern part of Germany by boat.

At the heart of the dispute between Germany and Poland was the free city of Gdansk, formerly the German city of Danzig, with its 100% German population, which was taken from the Germans in the Treaty of Versailles. Another bone of contention was the industrial section of Silesia which was given to Poland after World War I. In a self-determination vote, the people of Silesia had voted to become part of Germany, but this was ignored by the League of Nations, even though this was one of Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Although war had been avoided in the conflict between the Germans and the Czechs, this time there was no “appeasement” of Hitler. Great Britain and France, after signing an agreement to protect Poland in case of an attack by Germany, were forced to declare war on Germany and World War II began two days after the first shots were fired on September 1, 1939.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, Czechoslovakia again became an independent country and all the ethnic Germans, except for the few who could prove that they were anti-Fascist during the war, were expelled from their homes and sent into war-torn Germany, many of them dying along the way from hunger and exhaustion. The Czechs and the Jews exacted their revenge by attacking these refugees as they fled to Germany. Many of the refugees had to live for as long as 18 years in the former Nazi concentration camps, such as Dachau, until they could find new jobs and homes, as Germany was slowly rebuilt.

As soon as a typhus epidemic at Theresienstadt was brought under control, the prisoners were released and the Small Fortress became a prison for German Nazis from 1945 to 1948.

 

 

 

March 4, 2014

Putin is “taking a page out of the Hitler playbook” according to Bill O’Reilly

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:55 am

You can read what Bill O’Reilly said on his Fox news show last night at http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2014/03/04/bill-oreilly-how-handle-putin

This quote is from O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” at the beginning of his show, The O’Reilly Factor, last night:

Taking a page out of the Hitler playbook, Russian President Putin has invaded Ukraine saying that Russian nationals are in danger in that country. You may remember back in 1938 the Nazi leader did the exact same thing in Czechoslovakia sending in forces to, quote, “protect Germans” who[m] the Fuhrer said were at risk it was a reuse (sic).

Did Hitler send forces into Czechoslovakia in 1938?

O’Reilly has said on his show that he is currently writing a book about World War II, so he should know.

I have forgotten much of the history of World War II, so I had to look it up myself.  I did a google search and found the following quote on a website at http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nazis-take-czechoslovakia

On this day [March 15, 1939], Hitler’s forces invade and occupy Czechoslovakia–a nation sacrificed on the altar of the Munich Pact, which was a vain attempt to prevent Germany’s imperial aims.

On September 30, 1938, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, French Premier Edouard Daladier, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, which sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia, virtually handing it over to Germany in the name of peace. Although the agreement was to give into Hitler’s hands only the Sudentenland, that part of Czechoslovakia where 3 million ethnic Germans lived, it also handed over to the Nazi war machine 66 percent of Czechoslovakia’s coal, 70 percent of its iron and steel, and 70 percent of its electrical power. Without those resources, the Czech nation was left vulnerable to complete German domination.

No matter what concessions the Czech government attempted to make to appease Hitler, whether dissolving the Communist Party or suspending all Jewish teachers in ethnic-German majority schools, rumors continued to circulate about “the incorporation of Czechoslovakia into the Reich.” In fact, as early as October 1938, Hitler made it clear that he intended to force the central Czechoslovakian government to give Slovakia its independence, which would make the “rump” Czech state “even more completely at our mercy,” remarked Hermann Goering. Slovakia indeed declared its “independence” (in fact, complete dependence on Germany) on March 14, 1939, with the threat of invasion squelching all debate within the Czech province.

Then, on March 15, 1939, during a meeting with Czech President Emil Hacha–a man considered weak, and possibly even senile–Hitler threatened a bombing raid against Prague, the Czech capital, unless he obtained from Hacha free passage for German troops into Czech borders. He got it. That same day, German troops poured into Bohemia and Moravia. The two provinces offered no resistance, and they were quickly made a protectorate of Germany. By evening, Hitler made a triumphant entry into Prague.

The Munich Pact, which according to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had purchased “peace in our time,” was actually a mere negotiating ploy by the Hitler, only temporarily delaying the Fuhrer’s blood and land lust.

Several years ago, I visited the Czech Republic and before I went, I did a lot of research on the subject.

Bastion on southeast side of the old fortress, Sudeten mountains in background

Bastion on southeast side of the old Theresienstadt fortress with the Sudeten mountains in background

I am quoting below what I wrote on my website scrapbookpages.com after my visit to the Czech Republic.

The Czechoslovak Republic was founded on October 28, 1918, before the end of World War I, by Tomas G. Masaryk, who strongly supported Zionism and opposed anti-Semitism. Masaryk had an American wife and during the war, he had frequent talks with President Woodrow Wilson to gain support for Czech independence. As a strong supporter of the Jews, Masaryk had made a name for himself when he publicly sided with the Jews in the blood libel case in the town of Polna in 1899. (There is an exhibit about this case in the Maisel Synagogue in Prague.)

Thomas G. Masaryk became the first president of the new country of Czechoslovakia which was set up in accordance with Wilson’s Fourteen Points, on which the Armistice was signed to end World War I on November 11, 1918.

After he had united Germany and Austria in March 1938 [Der Anschluss], Hitler began complaining that the Czechs were mistreating and discriminating against the 3.5 million ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, who had been citizens of Austria-Hungary before World War I. Political parties, which were pro-Nazi, had been banned in Czechoslovakia and ethnic Germans who supported Hitler were being jailed. The Czechs hated the ethnic Germans because they had been under the rule of the Germans in the Austrian Hapsburg Empire for over 600 years before they gained their independence. On the other hand, the Slovaks tended to be anti-Semitic and they supported the Nazis. The very first Jews to be sent to Auschwitz and Majdanek were Slovaks who had already been put into labor camps in their own country.

Great Britain, France and Italy assumed responsibility for the conflict in Czechoslovakia since they had signed the Treaty of Versailles which ended the war and stripped the Germans and Austrians of a big chunk of their former territories. Czechoslovakia had become a country as a result of that treaty. America also fought on the side of the Allies in World War I, but did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles because it included the League of Nations, which the American Congress voted not to join.

Austria-Hungary and Germany both signed an Armistice based on the Fourteen Points proposed by Woodrow Wilson, the American President during the war years. One of the key points was self-determination which meant that all ethnic groups had the right to determine the country in which they would live. This point of Wilson’s Fourteen Points was violated by the Treaty of Versailles when half a million Poles and a million Hungarians, along with three and a half million ethnic Germans became citizens of the new country of Czechoslovakia, which was dominated by the Czechs.

In answer to Hitler’s complaints, the British formed a commission to study the problem. This resulted in the Munich agreement, signed on Sept. 30, 1938 between Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain, in which the borderland known as the Sudetenland, with its predominantly German population, was given to Germany. There were also 45,000 Jews living in the Sudetenland who were handed over to Hitler as a result of the Munich appeasement.

The Sudetenland had formerly been part of the Austrian Empire but by 1938, Austria was part of the new Greater German Reich created by Hitler in the Anschluss with Austria. The unification of Germany and Austria had been expressly forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles, but the Allies did not protest this violation of the treaty. The Czech government did not have a say in the Munich agreement, since the country of Czechoslovakia was not in existence before the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

Theresienstadt was right on the dividing line between the Sudetenland and the remaining part of Czechoslovakia with the demarcation line being immediately alongside the town’s fortifications. As soon as the Germans arrived to take over the Sudetenland, 25,000 of the Jews living there fled across the border into Theresienstadt and some of them took temporary refuge in the Small Fortress.

Eduard Benes, who replaced Masaryk as president of Czechoslovakia in 1935, had been opposed to the Germans in World War I. During the period between wars, Benes was a strong supporter of the League of Nations and was active in trying to prevent Germany from regaining military power.

As an opponent of Fascism, Benes had complained to the League of Nations many times when Hitler began to violate the terms of the Versailles Treaty by rearming and placing troops in the Rhineland on the border between France and Germany.

The Munich “appeasement” of Hitler was intended to prevent another world war, but soon afterwards, Hitler demanded the resignation of Benes, his unrelenting opponent, who was agitating against the German takeover of the Sudetenland. In an effort to maintain peace, Benes resigned and went to England where he set up a Czech government in exile.

On March 14, 1939, following the resignation of Benes, Slovakia declared itself an independent state under the rule of Father Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest and a Nazi supporter. On the following day, the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia and took over the rest of the country without a fight. The states of Bohemia and Moravia, which had been dominated by the Germans for centuries under the Holy Roman Empire, became a German Protectorate. The Czech town of Terezin became once again a German town, and the name was changed back to the original name of Theresienstadt.

The Czechs fought as partisans against the Fascists in World War II, even sending men from England into Czechoslovakia by parachute to assassinate a top Nazi, SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. According to Ben G. Frank in his book entitled “A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe,” over 50% of the Czech partisans were Jews.

After Slovakia split off into an independent country, it became an ally of the German Fascists. The rest of the small states in Czechoslovakia were taken over by Poland and Hungary to bring their former citizens back into their respective countries in accordance with Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Hungary became a Fascist ally of Germany, but there was still an ongoing dispute between Germany and Poland over the territory which Germany had lost to Poland after World War I. Germany had been divided into two parts, separated by the Polish Corridor which was created to give the Poles access to the port of Danzig.

December 21, 2011

Adolf Hitler, the carpet eater (Teppichfresser)

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:17 am

A big THANK YOU to Herbert Stolpmann, a reader of my blog, who directed me to William Shirer’s book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which is the source of the claim that Adolf Hitler was a Teppichfresser.

Shirer first wrote about this in his 1941 book Berlin Diary.  

This quote is from his diary:

Sept. 22, 1938. This morning, I noticed something very interesting. I was having breakfast in the garden of the Dresen Hotel, where Hitler is stopping, when the great man suddenly appeared, strode past me, and went down to the edge of the Rhine to inspect his river yacht.

[…]

I think [Hitler] is on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And now I understand the meaning of an expression the party hacks were using when we sat around drinking in the Dressen last night. They kept talking about the “Teppichfresser”‘, the “carpet-eater”.  At first I didn’t get it, and then someone explained it in a whisper. They said, Hitler has been having some of his nervous crises lately and that in recent days they’ve taken a strange form. Whenever he goes on a rampage about Benes or the Czechs he flings himself to the floor and chews the edges of the carpet hence the Teppichfresser. After seeing him this morning, I can believe it.

Shirer later included this story in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which was first published in 1961.

Here is the exact quote from page 391 of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

“Hitler was in a highly nervous state. On the morning of the twenty-second [of September 1938] I was having breakfast on the terrace of the Hotel Dressen, where the talks were to take place, when Hitler strode past on his way down to the riverbank to inspect his yacht. He seemed to have a peculiar tic. Every few steps he cocked his right shoulder nervously, his left leg snapping up as he did so. He had ugly, black patches under his eyes. He seemed to be, as I noted in my diary [Berlin Dairy] that evening, on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

“Teppichfresser!” muttered my German companion, an editor who secretly despised the Nazis. And he explained that Hitler had been in such a maniacal mood over the Czechs the last few days that on more than one occasion he had lost control of himself completely, hurling himself to the floor and chewing the edge of the carpet. Hence the term “carpet eater.” The evening before, while talking with some of the party leaders at the Dreesen, I had heard the expression applied to the Fuehrer — in whispers, of course.”

The quote above is from Chapter 12, The Road to Munich.  The sub heading is Chamberlain at Godesberg: September 22-23.  This section of Shirer’s book begins with this explanation of what is happening:

Though Chamberlain was bringing to Hitler all that he had asked for at their Berchtesgaden meeting, both men were uneasy as they met at the little Rhine town of Godesberg on the afternoon of September 22nd.

So both Hitler and Neville Chamberlian were “uneasy.”  Shirer wrote that it was “an editor who secretly despised the Nazis,” who told him about Hitler’s habits.  I wonder what the editor who despised the Nazis said about Chamberlain.  If we only knew his name, maybe we could ask him.

According to Mr. Stolpmann, who is a native German speaker, the term Teppichfresser has no other meaning. It is not like the English expression “chewing the fat,” which does not mean literally chewing fat.  However, the German language has two different words for eat:  essen and fressen.  The word “fressen” is used to refer to the way an animal eats, and when used in reference to a human, it is a grave insult.

Hitler was from Austria, where the natives are noted for their nice table manners.  To call an Austrian a “fresser” would be the worst possible insult.  I once went on a guided tour of Austria, and the guide felt the need to tell me (a boorish American) to watch my table manners while in Austria.

Shirer also wrote on page 518 in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich about how

“the S.S.-Gestapo would stage a fake attack on the radio station at Gleiwitz, near the Polish border, using condemned concentration camp inmates outfitted in Polish uniforms.”

On page 519, Shirer wrote:

On October 19, 1944, [Alfred] Naujocks deserted to the Americans and at Nuremberg a year later made a number of sworn affidavits, in one of which he preserved for history the account of the “incident” which Hitler used to justify his attack on Poland.

I previously blogged about Alfred Naujocks and the start of World War II here.

I wish that Eva Braun were still alive so that we could ask her why a beautiful young woman like her would stay with a man like Hitler who was a Teppichfresser.  And even worse, a man who faked an attack on a radio station to start a world war.