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Sudetenland (Sudety in Czech) was the name used in 1938–45 for the region inhabited mostly by Sudeten Germans (German: Sudetendeutsche, Czech: Sudetští Němci) in the various places of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. (The region was only partly confined to the mountains of Sudeten). In 1918–38 and after 1945, the region was part of Czechoslovakia (from 1993, in the Czech Republic).
History of Sudetenland
As Sudetenland is a 20th century name and not a historical region, it is difficult to describe some consistent history of the Sudetenland. The history of Sudetenland followed the history of Bohemia and Moravia. Small parts of Sudetenland lie in the historical region of Silesia.
Bohemia become the Czech Kingdom, ruled by dynasty of Premysl. The kingdom became a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. After the extinction of Premyslides it was ruled by the Luxemburgs, later the Jagiellonians, until later Habsburg imperial rulers inherited the land of Bohemia. The border regions of Bohemia and Moravia, called Sudetenland in the 20th century, were settled by the Germans from the 13th century onwards.
After the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, lands of Czech Kingdom became a part of the Habsburg Empire (later Austria-Hungary).
By the Versailles Treaty, the lands of Bohemia and Moravia became part of the new state of Czechoslovakia. The controversies between the Czechs and the Germans intensified in the 1930s and the German minority (which was actually a majority in the border regions, for which the term Sudetenland was coined), led by the Nazi politician Konrad Henlein, was gradually escalating its demands. See Germans in Czechoslovakia (1918-1938).
Conflict over the Sudetenland began immediately after the Anschluss (March 1938). This led to the Czechoslovak Crisis. The German Nazis — together with their Sudeten German allies – claimed throughout the year that the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia were being mistreated and oppressed by the Czech government, and demanded incorporation of the region into the Third Reich. The Western powers urged the Czechs to comply with Germany believing that they can prevent a general war by appeasing Hitler. Neville Chamberlain met with Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden, on September 15, and agreed to the cession of the Sudetenland, as did Edouard Daladier and Georges Bonnet three days later. The Czechs themselves were not included in these discussions. Chamberlain met Hitler in Godesberg on September 22 to confirm the agreements. The discussions here fell through, however, as Hitler made new demands that Chamberlain was not able to defend in parliament.
Hitler agreed to meet representatives from France, the United Kingdom, and Italy at the conference in Munich (September 29), out of which came the Munich Agreement ceding the Sudetenland to Germany. The Sudetenland would be occupied between October 1 and October 10. This unification with the Third Reich was followed by the flight and forcible expulsion of the region's Czech population to remaining parts of Czechoslovakia, which was subsequently invaded and annexed by Germany in March 1939.
After World War II those Sudeten Germans, who were not able to prove they were anti-Nazi, were expelled from the country, as ordered by the Potsdam conference in 1945. The property of these former citizens of Czechoslovakia was confiscated according to the Beneš decrees. Expulsion and forced resettlement was associated with many excesses and murders.
There are various organisations which represent Sudeten people, most notably the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft and the Munich-based Verband der Sudetendeutschen (Sudeten-German Federation).
- Germans in Czechoslovakia (1918-1938)
- Role of Sudeten Germans before Munich agreement
- Expulsion of Germans after World War II
- Pursuit of Nazi collaborators in Czechoslovakia
- Czech-German Declaration
- Facing history — The evolution of Czech-German relations in the Czech provinces, 1848–1948: historical publication sponsored by Czech government; series of PDF files
- Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft
- Sudetendeutsches Archiv
- Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft Bayern
- Bell, P.M.H. The Origins of the Second World War in Europe. Addison Wesley Longman Ltd: London, 1997.
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