Sudeten Germans Still Want to Go Home Acerbic Border Disputes Are Not Isolated to East Europe; Germans Expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II Want Compensation, and Some Politicians Are Listening

By Justin Burke, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, August 16, 1994 | Go to article overview

Sudeten Germans Still Want to Go Home Acerbic Border Disputes Are Not Isolated to East Europe; Germans Expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II Want Compensation, and Some Politicians Are Listening


Justin Burke, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


AS Europe tries to forge an unprecedented era of unity, some interest groups threaten to disrupt the process by reviving lingering grievances.

The Sudeten Germans are one such community embroiled in controversy. A vocal minority of Sudetens, now concentrated in the southern German state of Bavaria, is agitating for compensation for the post-World War II expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. Some want their old land returned, but most would be happy with a financial settlement.

Some powerful politicians in both Germany and Austria support the calls for compensation. Meanwhile, the Czech government steadfastly refuses to discuss the matter.

At the heart of the issue is the notion of collective responsibility. Sudetens complain they were unjustly held responsible as an ethnic group for the horrors committed 50 years ago by the Nazi dictatorship - acts over which they had no influence.

Many Czechs, including President Vaclav Havel, admit Sudetens were treated unfairly. But few Czechs feel the past injustice entitles Sudetens to compensation. Dangerous reaction

If Europe in the future is to avoid its traditional trap of nationalism, its citizens must give up the destructive tendency to dwell too much on the past, says Jiri Musil, a Czech sociologist and director of the Prague College at Central European University.

Reconciliation between Sudeten Germans and Czechs "should be done on an individual level. It shouldn't be a collective bargaining process," Mr. Musil says.

Such a process would be "disastrous and dangerous for both sides because it would start to create a nationalist reaction," he warns.

For centuries the Sudeten Germans and Czech lived together in relative harmony. The current rift opened following Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933.

In 1938, Sudetens figured greatly in the infamous Munich summit, during which Britain assented to Nazi Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland, the area of northern Czechoslovakia in which ethnic Germans lived.

Shortly after Germany's defeat in World War II, Czechoslovakian authorities sought revenge for the Nazi wartime occupation, and the Sudeten Germans proved an easy target. Retribution was carried out ruthlessly.

Prague issued decrees that labeled the ethnic Germans collectively responsible for the annexation of the Sudetenland. The government ordered confiscation of the property of about 2.5 million Sudetens between 1945-47, and they were expelled from the northern Czech regions to Germany and Austria. Thousands died during the forced move.

Decades of postwar communism in Czechoslovakia ruled out discussion on the Sudeten issue. The revival of free speech following the Communists' 1989 ouster, however, reopened the matter.

Today the 100,000-member Sudetendeutsche Landmannschaft, a civic organization representing the Sudetens, is pushing for the repeal of the postwar expulsion order, opening the way for a broad restitution settlement.

No specific compensation plan has yet been advanced. Sudeten leaders admit that few Sudetens wish to live in their ancestral homeland, but that doesn't diminish their desire to see the region retain its Germanic influence.

"Czech silence {on the issue} is nothing short of a second banishment," Sudeten leader Franz Neubauer told the annual gathering of Sudeten Germans, held in late May in the Bavarian city of Nuremburg. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sudeten Germans Still Want to Go Home Acerbic Border Disputes Are Not Isolated to East Europe; Germans Expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II Want Compensation, and Some Politicians Are Listening
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.