Czecho-Slovakia (Česko-Slovensko) was an artificial republic in Central Europe established by the plutocratic liberal Western Allies at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, comprising of ancient provinces of Austria-Hungary. It subsequently became a protégé of France as well as a member of the Little Entente, and the League of Nations.
Unrest in the German (and Austrian-German) Sudetenland led to the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938 detaching it from Czechoslovakia and attaching it to Greater Germany. That Agreement was soon followed by the First Vienna Award on 2 November 1938, detaching largely Hungarian inhabited territories in southern Slovakia and southern Carpathian Ruthenia from Czechoslovakia and returning them to Hungary, while Poland also annexed disputed territory in the North. In March 1939, Slovakia declared its independence and the First Slovak Republic was proclaimed. Shortly afterwards Germany invaded the remaining rump Czech State making it a Protectorate, using the pre-1919 names of Bohemia and Moravia.
In 1945 all the abovementioned regions were occupied by the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia was reconstituted as one of their Eastern Bloc puppet-states until 1992. With the collapse of the Communist Eastern Bloc of countries, on January 1, 1993, Czecho-Slovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The area of the new State was 54,244 square miles and in 1934 the population was 14,729,536, of whom about 7,300,000 were Czechs and 2,300,000 Slovaks, 3,231,688 Germans, 691,923 Hungarians, 549,164 Ruthenians, Russians and Ukrainians, 186,642 Jews (by nationality), 81, 737 Poles, and 49, 737 others. There were 249,971 persons not Czecho-Slovak citizens. The Czechs inhabited chiefly the centres of Bohemia and Moravia; the Slovaks, north and central Slovakia; the Germans the west and north of Bohemia, and north Moravia, forming about one-third of the populations of Bohemia and Moravia; the Hungarians, along the southern fringe of Slovakia; the Ruthenians, Carpatho-Ruthenia; the Poles, that part of Silesia falling within the new State's borders. 10,831,696 persons in 1930 were Roman Catholics; 585,041 Greek and Armenian Catholics (nearly all Ruthenians); 1,129,758 were Protestants; 145,598 Orthodox (Ruthenians); 356,830 (2.4%) Jews.
The chief towns (with 1930 populations) were: Prague, 848,823; Brunn, 264,925; Mahrisch-Ostrau, 125,347; Pressburg, 123,892; Pilsen, 114,704; Kaschau, 70,232; Olmutz, 66,440.
The founder President of the new State was Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), a philosopher and Francophile. The government pinned its foreign policy to the Little Entente and to France. The new government was formed by the Czech National Socialist Party, the title of which indicated the government's policies. Despite consisting of less than half the population (43%), the Czechs assumed almost all positions of government and authority and began to oppress the other peoples of the State with their hegemony, including their insistence that everyone speak their language. German & Austrian civil servants in Czechoslovakia were obliged to pass an examination in Czech; the effect was to halve the proportion of Germans in the Civil Service. German schools were closed down by the Czech authorities, while new Czech schools were built even in towns where only a few Czech families lived. "Land Reform" (meaning selective expropriation and redistribution, or State theft) notably of the estates of Austrian-German aristocracy, was also high on their agenda. Therefore from the outset there were problems between the Czechs, Slovakians, Ruthenians and Germans, the latter three all wanting autonomy. The Slovaks, for instance, had originally (1919) been promised a great degree of autonomy. This failed to materialise in any serious form until it was too late.
Over 500,000 people were unemployed in Czechoslovakia in April 1937.
Czech War Crimes
In 1945 with the collapse of Greater Germany Czech partisans (a combination of communists and fanatical nationalists), many of whom had spent the war years in the Soviet Union, committed the most fantastic murderous atrocities against the indigenous German population who had lived in this part of Europe for up to 800 years, despite the fact that Czecho-Slovakia had led a charmed life during World War II with virtually no damage. Although these were reported at the time the victorious Allies ignored them. In October 1945 the new Soviet-installed government announced an amnesty for all war crimes committed against Germans, military, civilian, or otherwise. Slowly a number of books appeared on these atrocities. The Federal Government of West Germany (Bonn) produced four volumes (in three books, 1954, 1960 and 1961) entitled Documents on the Expulsions of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe by a board of academics and professors who interviewed thousands of people and examined vast quantities of evidence. The esteemed American professor, Dr.Austin J. App, M.A., PhD., produced three small volumes (1976, 1977 and 1979) on The Sudeten-German Tragedy. The Secretary of the United Nations Human Rights Commission for over 20 years, Professor of International Law, Aldred-Maurice de Zayas, researched and wrote extensively on the subject, including Nemisis at Potsdam (1977/79), and A Terrible Revenge - The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans (English translation 1993). More recently Professor of History R.M. Douglas produced (2012) Orderly and Humane (a pun on the instructions given by the western Allies as to dealing with any expellees), and the BBC surprisingly produced a shocking and harrowing documentary mainly dealing with Czech atrocities and murders in 1945 which was first broadcast on BBC2 TV on 24 May 2015.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the year 1938, London, 1938, pps: 354 &188.
- Britannica, 1938, p.188.
- Britannica, 1938, p.189.
- The War of the World by Niall Ferguson, London, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0-713-99708-8, p.168-9.
- Britannica, 1938, p.188.