The Transfer of the Sudeten Germans: A Study of Czech-German Relations, 1933-1962

By Radomír Luža | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3 The Foundation of the Henlein Party

Disappointment and frustration over the German defeat of 1918 and the peace settlement of 1919 marked the union of the Germans with the Czechoslovak state. There had been an element of hopelessness and bewilderment among soldiers coming home after more than four interminable years of unsuccessful warfare. Having been barred from victory for reasons beyond their control, they found themselves under a new state and saw no hopeful prospects of their participation in the new political order.

In contrast to the firmness, discipline, and decision demanded daily at the front, the compromises and indecisiveness of a democratic regime appeared unworthy of their attention. The young men, especially, who could have expected to find a successful career under the empire, did not see any likelihood of national or personal advancement in the Republic. They tended naturally to vent their bitterness on the democratic system. The political divisions of the postwar period could not efface the emotional bonds formed during the war. Passively subjected to Czechoslovak reality, many young Germans strove to find a honorable way out of the dilemma between insurrection and submission. They grouped in the Wandervögel (Wandering Birds) and gathered around camp fires to forget the exasperating present in recollections of the days of glory. They felt themselves members of an ever-living but deeply hurt national community, to which they pledged secret and strict obedience. Their romantic, quasi-mystical reactions had something of the ideals of

-62-

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