The Czech Radio archives give us a rich and nuanced picture of the months leading up to the Munich Agreement of September 1938 that resulted in Nazi Germany annexing huge areas of Czechoslovakia. So many recordings survive that we can reconstruct the events leading up to Munich almost day by day. They include insights from many different angles, not least the perspective of the German-speakers of Czechoslovakia, those who supported, but also those who opposed Hitler. The archives offer a sober warning of how easily a democratic state can be shattered
Communist Party chairman Vojtěch Filip has criticised the participation of
the Czech ambassador to Berlin in a meeting of the Sudeten German Homeland
Association last month, accusing Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček of
trying to demolish the Beneš decrees.
Mr. Filip said the Sudeten German group could not be a partner of the government and that he had never felt such disgust at a Czech foreign minister.
For his part, Mr. Petříček said nobody had questioned the Beneš decrees. He said Mr. Filip was acting like a parasite toward the past and what’s more was doing so a month late.
The Beneš decrees sanctioned the expulsion of Czechoslovakia’s German minority and the confiscation of their property after WWII.
Earlier this year the Czech Republic marked the 80th anniversary of the Munich Agreement, signed in September 1938 by the leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain, and Italy, resulting in the annexation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany. Radio Prague’s David Vaughan recently published a book in the UK titled “Hear My Voice”, most of which is set in Czechoslovakia in the months preceding the Munich agreement. Its narrator is an interpreter for the international press corps in Prague and he watches the events of 1938 unfold in Central Europe as
This Sunday will mark the 80th anniversary of the infamous Munich agreement - the deal between Hitler, Mussolini and the two western European powers, which cut off the German speaking borderlands from Czechoslovakia, including a significant part of its industry and protective ring of forts, thus rendering the young republic defenceless to any future German invasion. Munich is often seen as a betrayal of the Czechoslovak state by western powers and the French were famously ashamed for breaking their alliance. But why did the Great powers act as they
In the late summer of 1938, the fate of the Czechoslovak Republic was being decided. The Sudeten German-speaking minority wanted to split from the country and join Nazi Germany. Hitler threatened war on Czechoslovakia if their demands were not met. Britain and France were bound by treaties to help the Czechs but wanted desperately to avoid the war. So, they sent a special envoy to the country – Walter Runciman, 1st Viscount of Doxford, in short, Lord Runciman. Vít Pohanka found an episodic but fascinating story connected with Lord Runciman’s historic
Franz Fühmann (1922-1984) was one of East Germany’s most widely read writers. He is also one of few that have stood the test of time. He grew up in Czechoslovakia in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, a small town in the mountains close to what was then the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. This provided the setting for several of his stories, drawing from his pre-war memories of the Sudetenland. They form part of his 1962 collection The Jew Car which is now available in English, published by Seagull Books and translated by Isabel Cole. David Vaughan
Czech Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek told a meeting of the Sudeten German Homeland Association (Sudeten German Landsmannschaft) in Augsburg, Bavaria, that never again should be allowed the expulsion of people for their nationality, beliefs, or racial origin.. Bělobrádek, the highest ranking Czech politician to address the meeting of exiled Sudetens and their descendants, was referring to the expulsion of around 3.0 million German speakers at the end of WWII from Czechoslovakia. Bělobrádek adressed his audience as fellow countrymen, explaining that the Sudetens had also shared a love for the same country as the Czechs. He added that he had not come to apologise for past events but to make peace. Bělobrádek said that in the future he hoped attendance at the event would not attract such great attention in the Czech Republic.