Expulsion of Ethnic Germans. The ethnic German population in Eastern Europe was to be removed after the war and repatriated to defeated Germany. With this step, centuries of German Drang Nach Osten (the march to the east) was to be reversed. This was also collective punishment for ethnic Germans, some of whom had served as a Nazi fifth column in Eastern Europe. This was the second "ethnic cleansing" in Europe, a response to the German "cleansing" of Jews from the European continent. It did not matter that most of the ethnic German populations went to Eastern Europe centuries before World War II, at the invitation of native rulers and were civilizing agents, introducing urban crafts to the region. Many of them did not sympathize with Nazism, but they were caught up in the nationalism of the time between the two world wars. They considered the East European countries in which they resided as their homelands.
The Sudeten Germans, some of whom did support the Henlein-led Nazi party in Czechoslovakia before World War II, were removed from their homes. They were permitted to carry only as many of their belongings as they could carry in their hands. First, they were herded into concentration camps under barbaric conditions, then they were marched on foot to the nearest railroad station where they were loaded into cattle wagons. They were deported to various parts of Germany under Allied occupation. About 3 million ethnic Germans were removed.
Eduard Benes also began the expulsion of ethnic Hungarians from Czechoslovakia in 1945, but this process was halted after more than 100,000 Hungarians had been driven across the borders with Hungary. However, large number of ethnic Hungarians were deported to Silezia and Moravia where they were put to forced labor in retaliation for Hungary's role in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Many of them died under the barbaric conditions in which they were held.
In 1991, president Vaclav Havel (see Havel, Vaclav) apologized to Germany for the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, but no steps were taken to compensate the victim for the loss of their properties, and Havel did not mention the fate of Hungarians after 1945.
Luza Radomir, The Transfer of the Sudeten Germans: A Study of Czech-German Relations, 1933-1962 ( New York, 1982).
Gorbachev's Impact on Czechoslovakia. After the death of Leonid Brezhnev, the change of leadership in the Soviet Union had hardly any effect on Czechoslovak politics. "Normalization" (see "Normalization in Czechoslovakia") under Gustav Husak (see Husak, Gustav) was too effective in preventing quick changes in political life. Husak praised the changes in the Soviet Union as was the custom among the East European satraps, but he had no intention of altering the course of Czechoslovak communism. There occurred scattered incidents in the country, people demanding greater freedoms and the observation of human rights, but none of these incidents were on a scale large enough to introduce Glasnost or Perestroika in the Czechoslo