Sudeten German

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Flag of the Sudeten German ethnic group

Sudeten German is an alternative designation for the German Bohemians, German Moravians and German Silesians , which the German national journalist and cultural geographer Franz Jesser coined in 1902 for the German-speaking population in Bohemia and Moravia . The term quickly caught on after they became citizens of Czechoslovakia through the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1919 and their authorities prohibited the use of the terms “German Bohemia”, “German Moravia” and “German Silesian”. Sudeten Germans became a political collective term for all Germans living in the language area of ​​the Bohemian, Moravian and Silesian border areas of Czechoslovakia.

Since 1945 the name "Sudeten Germans" has had another political connotation because it is associated with the Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia and with their interest groups Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft in Germany and Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft in Austria .

Concept history and concept controversy

The Sudetes : the main ridge of the Giant Mountains with a view of the Schneekoppe (aerial view from approx. 300 m height)

The name "Sudetendeutsche" (in the Egerland dialect Suaderer ) was occasionally used as early as the 19th century and has been a collective term since the beginning of the 20th century, especially from 1919 (i.e. after the end of the First World War and the establishment of Czechoslovakia ) for the more than three million Germans in the Bohemian countries and replaced the name "German Bohemia" that was customary until then.

The origin of the name is ambiguous. Either it is based on the term "Sudetští Nĕmci" (literally "Sudeten-Germans") for the German part of the population, which was mainly shaped by the Young Czechs since the 19th century. Or it is derived from the term Sudetenland , which in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy referred to the countries of the Bohemian Crown. Both variants are ultimately based on the reference to the Sudeten mountain range , which stretches over 330 km in the north of Bohemia, Moravia and Sudeten Silesia. The term Sudeten Germans also includes population groups who did not live in the area of ​​the Sudeten mountain range, but in almost the entire border area of ​​Bohemia and Moravia, as well as in the language islands of Olomouc , Wischau , Brno and Iglau and other cities.

The first use of the term "Sudeten Germans" on a larger scale began in the twenties and thirties. For the first time there was a uniform term for all German residents of Bohemia and Moravia, which promoted the uniform appearance of the population group and a differentiation from the Czech population. In particular, the establishment of the Sudeten German Home Front in 1933 and the name Reichsgau Sudetenland from 1938 onwards led to the breakthrough of the term. After the expulsion, the undisputed name of the German population of Bohemia and Moravia in the Federal Republic of Germany was "Sudeten Germans", both self and external.

The Sudeten Germans have long been an important topic in political discourse. The Bavarian Prime Minister Hans Ehard announced the patronage of the Free State of Bavaria over the Sudeten Germans on the Sudeten German Day in Munich in 1954 . He also declared it to be a "fourth tribe of Bavaria alongside Old Bavaria , Swabians and Franks ". The CSU also saw itself as a "lawyer for the Sudeten Germans". The conservative orientation and the political demands of the Sudetendeutschen Landsmannschaft led to the fact that the term “Sudetendeutsche” is often associated with revanchist demands in the German public .

For this reason, many descendants of Sudeten Germans reject this term as a self-designation or avoid it. Quite a few “Sudeten Germans” such as Peter Glotz prefer to call themselves German Bohemians or German Moravians , which seems politically more neutral to them and which has always been the preferred designation alongside Silesians, especially in Austria . Most of the members of today's German minority in the Czech Republic no longer describe themselves as Sudeten Germans.

History and present

Ethnic group of the Sudeten Germans

Displaced Sudeten Germans (1945)
Displaced persons monument in Linz

For centuries, the history of the Germans in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia did not go under the term "Sudeten Germans". The constitution of the Sudeten Germans as an ethnic group took place in the twenties and thirties from the point of view of national politics. The German-speaking residents of the newly founded Czechoslovak Republic positioned themselves differently to the state. The activists tried to help shape this. The negativists , who became dominant in the 1930s, especially under Konrad Henlein, boycotted and thwarted the state. His Sudeten German Home Front, which was closely related to National Socialism, later the Sudeten German Party, shaped the political discourse through demands to join the German Reich (appeal “ Heim ins Reich ”).

As a result of the Munich Agreement of September 29, 1938, the German-speaking areas were annexed by the German Reich and the Sudeten Germans were granted citizenship of the German Reich . Many social democrats, other opponents of the regime and Jews were arrested, interned, abused and murdered or fled from them. Tens of thousands of Czech residents in the areas were forced to leave. The intended separation of Germans and Czechs failed because the new borders of the German Empire also included settlement areas with a Czech majority, e. B. the area around Hohenstadt or the industrial city of Nesselsdorf . The society of the Sudeten Germans was under the Nazis as the German Empire into line and rebuilt. Czechs were oppressed and often forced into forced labor. Sudeten Germans took part in the Holocaust , the murder of Sinti and Roma and other crimes of the Nazi regime . There was also resistance to National Socialism among Sudeten Germans . In the last days of the war, the remaining SS units committed numerous atrocities. Among other things, this triggered the Prague uprising on May 5, 1945, three days before the end of the war, which killed members of the Wehrmacht and SS, but also numerous German civilians. For example, Peter Glotz writes in his book The Expulsion : "All of this explains the unleashed orgy against everything that was not Czech, incidentally also against indisputable anti-Nazis."

During and after the capture by American and Soviet troops, many Sudeten Germans fled and there were "spontaneous expulsions " of Germans from the area of ​​former Czechoslovakia. In May, Edvard Beneš propagated the need to remove the Germans and thus triggered a series of often bloody “wild expulsions” through which up to 800,000 people lost their homes. The Beneš decree 108 confiscated all of the German property. In 1946 another 2,256,000 people were officially evacuated. Only a few required skilled workers as well as opponents and victims of the Nazi regime were allowed or had to stay. The receiving countries were the later Federal Republic of Germany, here in particular Bavaria and Hesse , the later German Democratic Republic , here particularly Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia , and to a lesser extent Austria. The integration of this new large population group did not go smoothly and was a great challenge for Sudeten Germans as well as target countries. By the 1970s at the latest, however, there was a trend towards assimilation to the majority population. Mainly conservative Sudeten German circles in Germany organized themselves in the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, which, against much opposition, claimed and claims the sole representation of the Sudeten Germans. However, many Sudeten Germans and their descendants are not or are organized in other associations and are reserved about the country team and its negative external impact. A small part of the Sudeten Germans stayed in Czechoslovakia and today sees themselves as a German minority in the Czech Republic .

The Sudetendeutsche dictionary detected Sudetengerman dialects in Bohemia , Moravian and Moravian Silesia and is one of the so-called. Large scenic Dictionary of German . The dictionary was started in 1957 at the Charles University in Prague . The first delivery appeared in 1982, the first volume in 1988. The expected conclusion is 2017 with around eight volumes. The dictionary is edited by the Collegium Carolinum in Munich.

Population statistics 1910, 1921 and 1930

Colloquial language (1910) or
ethnicity (1921 and 1930)
 Censuses in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia
1910 1921 1930
Czechs 6,332,690 6,727,408 7,264,848
German 3,489,711 2,937,208 3,070,938
Poland 158.392 73.020 80,645
Slovaks - 15,630 44.052
National Jews - 30,267 30.002
Russians 1,717 3,321 11,174
Magyars 101 6.104 10,463
Other 1,659 2,671 4.125
Foreigners 87,162 - 158.139
total 9,984,270 9,795,629 10,674,386

(Source: Statistical Yearbook of the Czechoslovak Republic 1935 )

See also


  • Alfred Bohmann : The Sudeten Germanism in numbers. Edited by the Sudeten German Council, Munich 1959.
  • Wenzel Jaksch : Europe's way to Potsdam. 2nd edition, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1959.
  • K. Erik Franzen: The fourth tribe of Bavaria. Patronage over the Sudeten Germans 1954–1974. ( Dissertation ) Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-59150-7 .
  • Emil Franzel : Sudeten German history. Kraft, Mannheim 1978, ISBN 3-8083-1141-X .
  • Emil Franzel: The Sudeten Germans. Ascent, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-7612-0157-5 .
  • Walter Fr. Schleser : The citizenship of German people according to German law. In: The German Citizenship , 4th Edition, Verlag für Standesamtwesen, Frankfurt am Main 1980, ISBN 3-8019-5603-2 , pp. 75-106.
  • Jan Berwid-Buquoy: Integration and separation of the Sudeten Germans in the ČSR 1918–1920. Theories of nationalisms. Herbia, České Budějovice 2005, ISBN 80-239-4433-9 / Hibi, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-924933-08-1 (also Diss. FU Berlin 2004).
  • Felix Ermacora : The Sudeten German Questions. Legal opinion . Langen Müller, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-7844-2412-0 .
  • Horst W. Gömpel, Marlene Gömpel: … arrived! Expelled from the Sudetenland, taken in Northern Hesse, united in the European Union. (With many eyewitness reports, photos and documents.) Preußler, Nürnberg 2014, ISBN 978-3-934679-54-2 .
  • Walter Kosglich , Marek Nekula , Joachim Rogall (eds.): Germans and Czechs. History - culture - politics. With a foreword by Václav Havel (= Beck's series 1414), orig. Edition, 2nd, through. Edition, CH Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-45954-4 . [The Czech texts were written by Kristina Kallert to Dt. transl .] (in the Czech language: Češi a Němci. Dějiny - Kultura - Politika. Slovo úvodem: Václav Havel. Paseka, Prague 2001, ISBN 80-7185-370-4 .)
  • Hans Henning Hahn (ed.): One hundred years of Sudeten German history. A national movement in three states. From the series: The Germans and Eastern Europe. Studies and Sources. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-631-55372-5 .
  • Rudolf Meixner: History of the Sudeten Germans. Preußler, Nuremberg 1988, ISBN 3-921332-97-4 .
  • Hermann Raschhofer , Otto Kimminich : The Sudeten Question. Your development under international law from the First World War to the present . 2nd edition, Olzog, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-7892-8120-4 .
  • Ferdinand Seibt : Germany and the Czechs. History of a neighborhood in the middle of Europe. 3rd edition, Piper, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-492-11632-9 . (Standard work)
  • Erich later : No peace with the Czech Republic. The Sudeten Germans and their country team. KVV concrete, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-930786-43-5 .
  • Tomáš Staněk : internment and forced labor. The camp system in the Bohemian countries 1945–1948 (original title: Tábory v českých zemích 1945–1948 , translated by Eliška and Ralph Melville, supplemented and updated by the author, with an introduction by Andreas R. Hofmann). Oldenbourg / Collegium Carolinum , Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-56519-5 / ISBN 978-3-944396-29-3 (=  publications of the Collegium Carolinum , Volume 92).
  • Tomáš Staněk: Persecution 1945. The position of the Germans in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia (outside the camps and prisons) . Translated by Otfrid Pustejovsky, edited and partially translated by Walter Reichel, Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2002, ISBN 3-205-99065-X (=  book series of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe , Volume 8).
  • Georg Traska (ed.): Shared memories. Czechoslovakia, National Socialism and the expulsion of the German-speaking population 1937–1948 . Mandelbaum, Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-85476-535-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Sudetendeutscher  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Friedrich Prinz : Bohemia and Moravia. German history in Eastern Europe. Siedler, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-88680-202-7 .
  2. ^ K. Erik Franzen: The fourth tribe of Bavaria. Patronage over the Sudeten Germans 1954–1974 (dissertation), Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-59150-7 .
  3. ^ German Social Democrat in the CSR of the interwar period ... ( Memento from May 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), website of the Federal Institute for Culture and History of Germans in Eastern Europe ; The German occupation of Czechoslovakia , Friends of the City of Saaz / Žatec e. V. ("The wild expulsion of the Germans in Northern Bohemia 1945"). Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  4. Ackermann-Gemeinde: “Forgotten Heroes”: Sudeten German resistance against the Nazi regime - a Czech research project ( Memento of March 2, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  5. Peter Glotz: The expulsion. Bohemia as a lesson. Munich 2003, p. 202.
  6. not Austro-Hungarian citizens
  7. Review on