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Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1942, in dark green within Nazi Germany in light green
|Status||Partially-annexed territory of Nazi Germany|
|Common languages||Czech, German|
|Konstantin von Neurath|
|Reinhard Heydrich (acting)|
|Kurt Daluege (acting)|
|Rudolf Beran (acting)|
|Historical era||World War II|
|15 March 1939|
|8 May 1945|
|1939||49,363 km2 (19,059 sq mi)|
|Today part of|
The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moraviawas a partially annexed territory of Nazi Germany established on 16 March 1939 following the German occupation of the Czech lands on 15 March 1939. Earlier, following the Munich Agreement of September 1938, Nazi Germany had incorporated the Czech Sudetenland territory as a Reichsgau (October 1938).
The protectorate's population was majority ethnic Czech, while the Sudetenland was majority ethnic German. Following the establishment of the independent Slovak Republic on 14 March 1939, and the German occupation of the Czech rump state the next day, Adolf Hitler established the protectorate on 16 March 1939 by a proclamation from Prague Castle.
The German government justified its intervention by claiming that Czechoslovakia was descending into chaos as the country was breaking apart on ethnic lines, and that the German military was seeking to restore order in the region.Czechoslovakia at the time under President Emil Hácha had pursued a pro-German foreign policy; however, upon meeting with the German Führer Adolf Hitler (15 March 1939), Hácha submitted to Germany's demands and issued a declaration stating that in light of events he accepted that Germany would decide the fate of the Czech people; Hitler accepted Hácha's declaration and declared that Germany would provide the Czech people with an autonomous protectorate governed by ethnic Czechs. Hácha was appointed president of the protectorate the same day.
The Protectorate was a nominally autonomous Nazi-administered territory which the German government considered part of the Greater German Reich.The state's existence came to an end with the surrender of Germany to the Allies in 1945.
On 10 October 1938, when Czechoslovakia was forced to accept the terms of the Munich Agreement, Germany incorporated the Sudetenland, on the Czechoslovak border with Germany and Austria proper, with its majority of ethnic German inhabitants, directly into the Reich. Five months later, when, with German support, the Slovak parliament declared the independence of the Slovak Republic, Hitler summoned Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha to Berlin and intimidated him into accepting the German occupation of the Czech rump state and its reorganisation as a German protectorate.
The population of the protectorate was mobilized for labor that would aid the German war effort, and special offices were organized to supervise the management of industries important to that effort. The Germans drafted Czechs to work in coal mines, in the iron and steel industry, and in armaments production. Consumer-goods production, much diminished, was largely directed toward supplying the German armed forces. The protectorate's population was subjected to rationing.
German rule was moderate by Nazi standards during the first months of the occupation. The Czech government and political system, reorganized by Hácha, continued in formal existence. The Gestapo directed its activities mainly against Czech politicians and the intelligentsia. The eventual goal of the German state under Nazi leadership was to eradicate Czech nationality through assimilation and deportation and to exterminate the Czech intelligentsia; the intellectual élites and members of the middle class made up many of the 200,000 people who were sent to concentration camps and of the 250,000 who died during the German occupation. [ need quotation to verify ] In 1940, in a secret plan on Germanization of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, it was declared that those considered to be racially Mongoloid and the Czech intelligentsia were not to be Germanized, and that about half of the Czech population were suitable for Germanization. Generalplan Ost assumed that around 50% of Czechs would be fit for Germanization. The Czech intellectual élites were to be removed from Czech territories and from Europe completely. The authors of Generalplan Ost believed it would be best if they emigrated overseas, as even in Siberia, they were considered a threat to German rule. Just like Jews, Poles, Serbs, and several other nations, Czechs were considered to be untermenschen by the Nazi state.
The Czechs demonstrated against the occupation on 28 October 1939, the 21st anniversary of Czechoslovak independence. The death on 15 November 1939 of a medical student, Jan Opletal, who had been wounded in the October violence, precipitated widespread student demonstrations, and the Reich retaliated. Politicians were arrested en masse, as were an estimated 1,800 students and teachers. On 17 November, all universities and colleges in the protectorate were closed, nine student leaders were executed, and 1,200 were sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp within Nazi Germany; further arrests and executions of Czech students and professors took place later during the occupation.(See also Czech resistance to Nazi occupation )
During World War II, Hitler decided that Neurath was not treating the Czechs harshly enough and adopted a more radical policy in the protectorate. On 29 September 1941, Hitler appointed SS hardliner Reinhard Heydrich as Deputy Reichsprotektor (Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor). At the same time, he relieved Neurath of his day-to-day duties. For all intents and purposes, Heydrich replaced Neurath as Reichsprotektor. Under Heydrich's authority Prime Minister Alois Eliáš was arrested (and later executed), the Czech government was reorganized, and all Czech cultural organizations were closed. The Gestapo arrested and killed people. The deportation of Jews to concentration camps was organized, and the fortress town of Terezín was made into a ghetto way-station for Jewish families. On 4 June 1942, Heydrich died after being wounded by Czechoslovak Commandos in Operation Anthropoid. Directives issued by Heydrich's successor, SS-Oberstgruppenführer Kurt Daluege, and the martial law en force brought forth mass arrests, executions and the obliteration of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. In 1943 the German war-effort was accelerated. Under the authority of Karl Hermann Frank, German minister of state for Bohemia and Moravia, within the protectorate, all non-war-related industry was prohibited. Most of the Czech population obeyed quietly until the final months preceding the end of the war, when thousands became involved in the resistance movement.
For the Czechs of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, German occupation represented a period of oppression. Czech losses resulting from political persecution and deaths in concentration camps totalled between 36,000 and 55,000.The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia (118,000 according to the 1930 census) was virtually annihilated, with over 75,000 murdered. Of the 92,199 people classified as Jews by German authorities in the Protectorate as of 1939, 78,154 perished in the Holocaust, or 84.8 percent.
Many Jews emigrated after 1939; 8,000 survived at Terezín concentration camp, which was used for propaganda purposes as a showpiece. [ citation needed ] The vast majority of Romani in the Czech Republic today descend from migrants from Slovakia who moved there within post-war Czechoslovakia.[ citation needed ] The Theresienstadt concentration camp was located in the Protectorate, near the border to the Reichsgau Sudetenland. It was designed to concentrate the Jewish population from the Protectorate and gradually move them to extermination camps, and it also held Western European and German Jews. While not an extermination camp itself, the harsh and unhygienic conditions still resulted in the death of 33,000 of the 140,000 Jews brought to the camp while a further 88,000 were sent to extermination camps, and only 19,000 survived.Several thousand Jews managed to live in freedom or in hiding throughout the occupation. The extermination of the Romani population was so thorough that the Bohemian Romani language became totally extinct. Romani internees were sent to the Lety and Hodonín concentration camps before being transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau for gassing.
After the establishment of the Protectorate all political parties were outlawed, with the exception of the National Partnership (Národní souručenství). This local Czech Fascist party was led by a ruling Presidium until 1942, after which a Vůdce (Leader) for the party was appointed.
Ultimate authority within the Protectorate was held by the Reich Protector (Reichsprotektor), the area's senior Nazi administrator, whose task it was to represent the interests of the German state. The office and title were held by a variety of persons during the Protectorate's existence. In succession these were:
Konstantin von Neurath, former Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany, Minister without Portfolio until 1943. He was removed from office after Hitler's dissatisfaction with his "soft policies" in 1941, although he still held the title until his official resignation in 1943.
Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office) or RSHA. He was officially only a deputy to Neurath, but in reality was granted supreme authority over the entire state apparatus of the Protectorate.
Kurt Daluege, Chief of the Ordnungspolizei (Order Police) or Orpo, in the Interior Ministry, who was also officially a deputy Reich Protector.
Wilhelm Frick, former Minister of the Interior.
Next to the Reich Protector there was also a political office of State Secretary (from 1943 known as the State Minister to the Reich Protector) who handled most of the internal security. From 1939 to 1945 this person was Karl Hermann Frank the senior SS and Police Leader in the Protectorate. A command of the Allgemeine-SS was also established, known as the SS-Oberabschnitt Böhmen-Mähren. The command was an active unit of the General-SS, technically the only such unit to exist outside of Germany, since most other Allgemeine-SS units in occupied or conquered countries were largely paper commands.
The Czech State President (Státní Prezident) under the period of German rule from 1939 to 1945 was Emil Hácha (1872–1945), who had been the President of the Second Czechoslovak Republic since November 1938. Rudolf Beran (1887–1954) continued to hold the office of Minister President (Předseda vlády) after the German take-over. He was replaced by Alois Eliáš on 27 April 1939, who was himself also sacked on 2 October 1941 not long after the appointment of Reinhard Heydrich as the new Reich Protector. Because of his contacts with the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile Eliáš was sentenced to death, and the execution was carried out on 19 June 1942 shortly after Heydrich's own death. From 19 January 1942 the government was led by Jaroslav Krejčí, and from January to May 1945 by Richard Bienert, the former police chief of Prague. When the dissolution of the Protectorate was proclaimed after the Liberation of Prague, a radio call was issued for Bienert's arrest. This resulted in his conviction to a three-year prison term in 1947, during which he died in 1949.
Aside from the Office of the Minister President, the local Czech government in the Protectorate consisted of the Ministries of Education, Finance, Justice, Trade, the Interior, Agriculture, and Public Labour. The area's foreign policy and military defence were under the exclusive control of the German government. The former foreign minister of Czechoslovakia František Chvalkovský became a Minister without Portfolio and permanent representative of the Czech administration in Berlin.
The most prominent Czech politicians in the Protectorate included:
|Portfolio||Minister||Took office||Left office||Party|
|Czech State President||Emil Hácha||16 March 1939||9 May 1945||National Partnership|
|Minister President||Rudolf Beran||16 March 1939||27 April 1939||SNJ|
|Alois Eliáš||27 April 1939||2 October 1941||Independent|
|Jaroslav Krejčí||19 January 1942||19 January 1945||National Partnership|
|Richard Bienert||January 1945||May 1945||National Partnership|
|Leader of the Party||Josef Nebeský||1939||1941||National Partnership|
|Josef Fousek||1941||1942||National Partnership|
|Tomáš Krejčí||1942||1945||National Partnership|
|Minister of Justice||Jaroslav Krejčí||1939||1945||National Partnership|
|Minister of Interior||Josef Ježek||1939||1942||National Partnership|
|Richard Bienert||1942||1945||National Partnership|
|Minister of Finance||Josef Kalfus||16 March 1939||5 May 1945||National Partnership|
|Minister of Economics||Walter Bertsch||1942||1945||NSDAP|
|Minister of Agriculture||Ladislav Karel Feierabend||1939||1940||Independent|
|Mikuláš z Bubna-Litic||February 1940||January 1942||National Partnership|
|Adolf Hrubý||19 January 1942||5 May 1945||National Partnership|
|Minister of Traffic||Jiří Havelka||April 1939||April 1941||Independent|
|Jindřich Kamenický||April 1941||5 May 1945||National Partnership|
|Minister of Education||Jan Kapras||16 March 1939||19 January 1942||National Partnership|
|Emanuel Moravec||19 January 1942||5 May 1945||National Partnership|
|Minister without Portfolio||Jiří Havelka||March 1939||April 1939||Independent|
The area of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia contained about 7,380,000 inhabitants in 1940. 225,000 (3.3%) of these were of German origin, while the rest were mainly ethnic Czechs as well as some Slovaks, particularly near the border with Slovakia.[ citation needed ] Ethnic Germans were offered Reich citizenship, while Jews and Czechs were from the outset second-class citizens ("Protectorate subjects", German : Protektoratsangehörige).
In March 1939, Karl Frank defined a "German national" as:
Whoever professes himself to be a member of the German nation is a member of the German nation, provided that this profession is confirmed by certain facts, such as language, upbringing, culture, etc. Persons of alien blood, particularly Jews, are never Germans. . . . Because professing to be a member of the German nation is of vital significance, even someone who is partly or completely of another race—Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Hungarian, or Polish, for example—can be considered a German. Any more precise elaboration of the term "German national" is not possible given current relationships.
The Nazis aimed for the protectorate to become fully Germanized. Marriages between Czechs and Germans became a problem for the Nazis.In 1939, the Nazis did not ban sexual relations between Germans and Czechs and no law prohibited Jews from marrying Czechs. The Nazis made German women who married any non-Germans lose their Reich citizenship whereas Czech women who married German men were accepted into the German Volk. Czech families aiming to improve their lives in the protectorate encouraged their Czech daughters to marry German men as it was one way to save a family business.
Hitler had approved a plan designed by Konstantin von Neurath and Karl Hermann Frank, which projected the Germanization of the "racially valuable" half of the Czech population after the end of the war.This consisted mainly of industrial workers and farmers. The undesirable half contained the intelligentsia, whom the Nazis viewed as ungermanizable and potential dangerous instigators of Czech nationalism. Some 9,000 Volksdeutsche from Bukovina, Dobruja, South Tyrol, Bessarabia, Sudetenland and the Altreich were settled in the protectorate during the war. The goal was to create a German settlement belt from Prague to Sudetenland, and to turn the surroundings of Olomouc (Olmütz), České Budějovice (Budweis), Brno (Brünn) and the area near the Slovak border into German enclaves.
Further integration of the protectorate into the Reich was carried out by the employment of German apprentices, by transferring German evacuee children into schools located in the protectorate, and by authorizing marriages between Germans and "assimilable" Czechs.Germanizable Czechs were allowed to join the Reich Labour Service and to be admitted to German universities.
Peoples' reaction was humor, sarcasm and satire, so Germans called Czech citizens "laughing beasts".[ citation needed ]
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For administrative purposes the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was divided into two Länder: Böhmen (Bohemia) and Mähren (Moravia). Each of these was further subdivided into Oberlandratsbezirke, each comprising a number of Bezirke.
|Budweis||Budweis, Gumpolds, Ledetsch, Pilgrams, Tabor, Wittingau|
|Königgrätz||Chrudim, Hohenmauth, Jitschin, Königgrätz, Königinhof, Leitomischl, Nachod, Neu-Bidschow, Neuenburg, Pardubitz, Reichenau, Semil|
|Pilsen||Klattau, Kralowitz Pilsen-Land, Pilsen-Stadt, Pisek, Schüttenhofen, Strakonitz, Taus|
|Prag||Beneschau, Beraun, Böhmisch-Brod, Brandeis, Jungbunzlau, Kladno, Kolín, Laun, Melnik, Pibrans, Prag-Land-Nord, Prag-Land-Süd, Prag-Stadt, Rakonitz, Raudnitz, Schlan, Seltschan, Tschaslau|
|Brünn||Boskowitz, Brünn-Land, Brünn-Stadt, Gaya, Göding, Ungarisch-Brod, Ungarisch-Hradisch, Wischau, Zline|
|Iglau||Groß-Meseritsch, Iglau, Mährisch-Budwitz, Neustadtl, Trebitsch|
|Mährisch-Ostrau||Friedberg, Kremsier, Littau, Mährisch-Ostrau, Mährisch-Weißkirchen, Olmütz-Land, Olmütz-Stadt, Prerau, Proßnitz, Wallachisch-Meseritsch, Wesetin|
For party administrative purposes the Nazi Party extended its Gau-system to Bohemia and Moravia when the Protectorate was established. This step divided the remaining parts of Bohemia and Moravia up between its four surrounding Gaue:
The resulting government overlap led to the usual authority conflicts typical of the Third Reich era. Seeking to extend their own powerbase and to facilitate the area's Germanization the Gauleiters of the surrounding districts continually agitated for the liquidation of the Protectorate and its direct incorporation into the German Reich. Hitler stated as late as 1943 that the issue was still to be decisively settled.
Like in other occupied countries, the German military in Bohemia and Moravia was commanded by a Wehrmachtbefehlshaber. Through the year, the headquarter received several different names because of the complex structure of the Reichsprotektorat : Wehrmachtbevollmächtigter beim Reichsprotektor in Böhmen und Mähren, Wehrmachtbefehlshaber beim Reichsprotektor in Böhmen und Mähren and Wehrmachtbefehlshaber beim deutschen Staatsminister in Böhmen und Mähren. The commander also held the position of the Befehlshaber im Wehrkreis Böhmen und Mähren.
Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia, was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.
The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire.
The German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945) began with the German annexation of Sudetenland in 1938, continued with the March 1939 invasion of the Czech lands and creation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and by the end of 1944 extended to all parts of the former Czechoslovakia.
Emil Dominik Josef Hácha was a Czech lawyer, the third President of Czechoslovakia from 1938 to 1939. From March 1939, his country was under the control of the Germans and was known as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
The Sudeten German Party was created by Konrad Henlein under the name Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront on 1 October 1933, some months after the First Czechoslovak Republic had outlawed the German National Socialist Workers' Party. In April 1935, the party was renamed Sudetendeutsche Partei following a mandatory demand of the Czechoslovak government. The name was officially changed to Sudeten German and Carpathian German Party in November 1935.
Karl Hermann Frank was a prominent Sudeten German Nazi official in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia prior to and during World War II. Attaining the rank of Obergruppenführer, he was in command of the Nazi police apparatus in the Protectorate, including the Gestapo, the SD, and the Kripo. After the war, Frank was tried, convicted and executed by hanging for his role in organizing the massacres of the people of the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky.
Alois Eliáš was a Czech General and politician. He served as Prime Minister of the puppet government of the German-occupied Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from 27 April 1939 to 27 September 1941, but maintained contact with the government-in-exile. Because of his participation in the anti-Nazi resistance, he was the only head of government to be murdered by the Nazis during the war.
Emanuel Moravec was a Czech army officer and writer who served as the collaborationist Minister of Education of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia between 1942 and 1945. He was also chair of the Board of Trustees for the Education of Youth, a fascist youth organisation in the protectorate.
German Bohemians, later known as Sudeten Germans, were ethnic Germans living in the Czech lands of the Bohemian Crown, which later became an integral part of Czechoslovakia in which before 1945 over three million German Bohemians inhabited, about 23 percent of the population of the whole country and about 29.5 percent of the population of Bohemia and Moravia. Ethnic Germans migrated into the Kingdom of Bohemia, an electoral territory of the Holy Roman Empire, from the 11th century, mostly in the border regions of what was later called the "Sudetenland", which was named after the Sudeten Mountains. The process of German expansion was known as Ostsiedlung. The name "Sudeten Germans" was adopted during rising nationalism after the fall of Austria-Hungary after the First World War. After the Munich Agreement, the so-called Sudetenland became part of Germany.
The Second Czechoslovak Republic existed for 169 days, between 30 September 1938 and 15 March 1939. It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and the autonomous regions of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus', the latter being renamed on 30 December 1938 to Carpathian Ukraine.
Resistance to the German occupation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during World War II began after the occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia and formation of the protectorate on 15 March 1939. German policy deterred acts of resistance and annihilated organizations of resistance. In the early days of the war, the Czech population participated in boycotts of public transport and large-scale demonstrations. Later on, armed communist partisan groups participated in sabotage and skirmishes with German police forces. The most well known act of resistance was the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. Resistance culminated in the so-called Prague uprising of May 1945; with Allied armies approaching, about 30,000 Czechs seized weapons. Four days of bloody street fighting ensued before the Soviet Red Army entered the nearly liberated city.
The 1943–44 Národní liga was the fifth season of the Národní liga, the first tier of league football in the Nazi Germany-annexed Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia which had been part of Czechoslovakia until March 1939.
The Gauliga Sudetenland, was the highest football league in the Sudetenland, the predominately German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia that were awarded to the German Reich on 30 September 1938 through the Munich Agreement. Shortly after the completion of the occupation on 10 October 1938, the Nazis reorganised the administration in the region, forming the Reichsgau Sudetenland.
The Gauliga Böhmen und Mähren, was the highest football league in the parts of Czechoslovakia occupied by Germany on 15 March 1939 and incorporated in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from 1943 to 1945. The league only existed for one complete season.
The Reichsgau Sudetenland was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1939 to 1945. It comprised the northern part of the Sudetenland territory, which was annexed from Czechoslovakia according to the 30 September 1938 Munich Agreement. The Reichsgau was headed by the former Sudeten German Party leader, now Nazi Party functionary Konrad Henlein as Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter. From October 1938 to May 1939, it was the regional subdivision of the Nazi Party in that area, also under Henlein's leadership. The administrative capital was Reichenberg (Liberec).
The Holocaust in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia resulted in the deportation, dispossession, and death of 80,000 Jews. It was carried out by Nazi Germany, which was occupying the country, with some collaboration by the Czech collaborationist government.
The Holocaust in the Sudetenland resulted in the flight, dispossession, deportation and ultimately death of many of the 24,505 Jews living in the Reichsgau Sudetenland, a Nazi German administrative region established from former Czechoslovak territory annexed after the October 1938 Munich Agreement. Due to harassment and violence, including during Kristallnacht, ninety percent of the Jews had already left the Sudetenland by mid-1939. The remaining Jews were subject to property confiscation and eventually deportation. During the later years of the war, tens of thousands of Jews and non-Jews were forced laborers in a network of concentration camps in the Sudetenland.
Arijský boj was a pro-Nazi Czech-language weekly tabloid newspaper published between May 1940 and May 1945 in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Inspired by Der Stürmer, the newspaper made antisemitism its main theme and was also critical of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. Denunciations published by the newspaper contributed to the isolation of Jews during the first years of the Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia.
The Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia: Czech Initiatives, German Policies, Jewish Responses is a book by the German historian Wolf Gruner on the Holocaust in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the Czech-majority parts of Czechoslovakia partially annexed into Nazi Germany during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. Beginning before the Munich Agreement, Gruner's book covers the various stages of persecution of Jews which led to their deportation and murder. He argues that the role of Czech collaboration and local initiatives was greater than has been conventionally assumed, and also that Jewish resistance to persecution was substantial. The book has received mixed reviews; some Czech historians have disagreed with Gruner's conclusions while other reviewers generally praised the book with some reservations. The book was published in German in 2016 and in English and Czech in 2019. It received the 2017 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize of the German Studies Association.
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| Bohemia |
|Austrian Empire||First Republic a||Sudetenland b||Third Republic||Czechoslovak Republice|
| Czechoslovak Socialist Republic f|
| Czech and Slovak Federative Republic |
| Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia |
|Slovakia||Kingdom of Hungary|| Slovak Republic |
|Southern Slovakia and Carpathian Ukraine d|
|Subcarpathian Ruthenia|| Zakarpattia Oblast g|
1944 /1946 –1991
| Zakarpattia Oblast h|
a ČSR; boundaries and government established by the 1920 constitution.
e ČSR; declared a "people's democracy" (without a formal name change) under the Ninth-of-May Constitution following the 1948 coup.