Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
The end of the Second World War was not the end of the explosion of human rights abuses from the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe. In Czechoslovakia as well as Poland, there were outbreaks of retributive violence driven toward the German ethnic minorities present within their liberated boundaries. In both cases, the governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia began a state sponsored, and Potsdam Conference approved program, of "orderly and humane" expulsions. While most twentieth and twenty first century historians have attributed these actions in Czechoslovakia as a continuation of the historical relationship between the Czechs and Germans of Bohemia and Moravia, this study's contention is that these actions fundamentally altered the relations between the two groups by eliminating the Germans. Czech-German relations had included not only competition and destructive actions, but also coexistence, cooperation and inter-marriage between the two groups.;This study utilizes primary and secondary source material to analyze the critical aspects of this relationship as it pertained to the Nazi occupation of the regions of Bohemia and Moravia and the postwar Czechoslovak administration of President Edvard Benes. Under the direction of Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath and then Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was polarized along ethnic lines between those who were German, those who could be Germanized, and those who were undesirable. For the first time in Czech history, the traditional state of identity transience between Czech and German no longer existed. German atrocities, including the complete destruction of the village of Lidice as well as the arrest or destruction of all resistance groups pacified the Protectorate under the Nazis for the remainder of the war.;The suffering experienced under the Nazi occupation manifested itself as the Soviet Red Army liberated the region. The newly freed Czechs took the opportunity to take revenge upon the Germans, arresting many as collaborators, deporting the rest. This was a dynamic shift in the postwar relations between the two ethnic groups. Further intensifying this change were the directives issued by Czech President Edvard Benes in the Great Decree, which further penalized Germans based substantially on their ethnic heritage rather than their actions during the war. This study will further explore these policies as well as the effects of the international community. The final portion of this study will analyze the long-term effects that the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia had on the state's future. It will especially look at the outbreak of debate centered on the repeal of the Benes decrees and the Czech accession to the European Union, which clearly demonstrates the importance of the topic of research even in the venue of modern minority policies in the European Union and modern relations between the Czech Republic and Germany.
Taylor, Bryson David, "The Explosion of Ethnic Retributive Violence in Czechoslovakia at the End of the Second World War" (2013). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 418.