Dr. Thomas Reimer March 5, 2006
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To the Events 1997-1998 Chronicle
This website lists, in German, the indidividual decrees that dehumanized ethnic Germans and Magyars. An English version will follow:
This website, from Vancouver, charts the evolution of the Benes-decree jurisprudence, at Human Rights for Minorities in Central Europe
Decree #33 allowed on the paper that Germans and Magyars who had actively fought for the CSR during the 6 years that country had not existed legally (and by international treaty at that), could be reinstated. They had 6 months to lodge an application. To understand the cynicism of the law, consider first that Czechoslovakia was an artificial country with no claim on the loyalty of its non-Czech citizens. This had to be earned through its conceited attitude, the Czech government did not. Why should an ordinary person have fought FOR the CSR when the world community, in 1938, had decided to end the experiment? Then, the decree made as liable as any KZ commander the average, unpolitical person IF of German or Hungarian ancestry, no matter what the age or gender. Look at your grandmother! If a dictatorship were to take over your country, would she be worthy of expulsion, even death, simply because she did not attack the Gestapo with bare hands? Hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks had collaborated with the Nazis, and Benes had them judged as individuals. The great majority of Czechs and Slovaks had been as passive and unpolitical as the great majority of ethnic Germans. Yet an unpolitical Slavic grandmother was not condemned, whereas a German and Magyar one was. Besides, the exemption for active resisters was only window dressing for the Americans--for in practice active social-democrats, even Jews, were murdered and expelled just as anyone else, actions legalized in Fall 1946.
Not only were the Benes-decrees odious at the time. Their continued lawfulness in the Czech and Slovak republics continue to have effects on survivors. They prevent them from living in their old homeland as legal natives (which they are, after all), get restitution for their loss of property, etc., just as other individuals who suffered from ethnic discrimination during World War II do. It is highly insulting, too, to the dignity of the survivors, and their children, such as myself.
April 2005 The General Assembly of the deported Sudeten Germans in Austria reiterated that those Benes-decrees which led to the mass-murder and expulsion of the Sudeten Germans must be voided. The board of trustees of the KDL Austria declared that it agreed with the Sudeten German declaration, and that the current government of the Slovak Republic unfortunately supports the Benes decrees (Heimatblatt, Mai/June 2005, p. 18-19)
During the summer, Czech prime-minister Jiri Paroubek stated that he was considering an official apology (not more, certainly no restitution of any kind) to those Germans who had actually fought in the anti-Nazi resistance, and were ethnically cleansed in 1945-46. He was soundly criticized by the rabidly nationalistic Czech leadership, incl. president Vaclav Klaus. Slovakia prime-minister Mikulas Dzurinda issued a declaration that Slovakia won’t even consider that. Considering this persistent inhumane attitude, KDV president Ondrej Poess declared in the Karpatenblatt that while the KDV will never accept the ethnic cleansing as justified, “we have to be realistic” about obtaining justice. This is sad—and a sad verdict about Slovak society. The Baltic states and Hungary have extended their post-war compensation laws to include ethnically-cleansed Germans, Serbia and Croatia are working on legislation to do so. It is time that Slovaks overcome their smug, racist attitude.
That there was no movement at all in the Benes-decree issue was confirmed by Laszlo Nagy, of the Slovak parliament’s Committee on Minorities and
Human Rights, to a group of Austrian members of parliament led by Norbert Kapeller (OVP), and including Werner Kummerer (SPO) and Barbara Rosenkranz
(FPO). The delegation visited from November 28 to 30, and included a member of the KDL Austria.
The European Parliament showed that in the end, they are just the usual bunch of gastropodes and catamites that become professional politicians. Any street whore has more decency, as the persons who in May by a large majority voted to accept membership of the Czech and Slovak Republics despite the obvious official pride of these two countries at having committed (Czechs) and abetting (Slovaks) genocide. It just showed again that there is no "European Union" of values, despite the constant blather by Tony Blair and others about such--it's just a EEC (European Economic Community), a bunch of free-marketeers and bankers, with the Jolly Rogers but without morals.
2003/05/21 A delegation of the Czech settlers of the former Hohenstadt/Moravia, now called Bratronice, visited the Bavarian small city of Luhe-Wildenau, their future sister city. As reported by the local newspaper Der Neue Tag, the mayor of Bratronice castigated the "evil deed"of the Vertreibung, and called upon the Czech government and society to admit it. God bless these men. With such, reconciliation is possible. By the way, how many Slovak mayors, though receiving funds from the KDL for churches and schools, have spoken thus on the record, in public? Not many, even the churches evade the issue.
A good article by Christopher Szabo in Sobaka on the Benes-decrees and the moral ambiguity, to say the least, of the Western countries in continuing to tolerate them Omerta on the Benes-Decrees
A May 2002 article in the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (an otherwise heavily anti-German weekly from Switzerland, which makes light of the Vertreibung and accuses Germans collectively) noting Jews who were expropriated by the Benes-decrees as well, showing again that their aim was ethnic cleansing, not punishment of Nazi-crimes, which served only as pretext: Jewish victims of Benes-decrees
2002/01/16In an interview with the daily Die Presse (Vienna), Maria Kadlecikova dismissed the idea that the Benesch-decrees need to be discussed when Slovakia joins the European Union, with a short reference to the 1991 "apology."
2001/03/24. The Carpathian German historian Joerg Hoensch died, 65 years old at the eve of retirement. Born in Freudenthal/Moravia into a family from the Upper Zips, he taught since 1972 at the University of the Saarland in Saarbruecken. In his works about Slovakia, Prof. Hoentsch followed all too often the rule, when in doubt, blame the Germans. He also associated with Ferdinand Seibt of the Collegium Carolinum, who has tried to revise through creative accounting the number of Germans killed in 1945-46 under the Benesch-decrees from 250,000-300,000 down to 40,000. ( For details about that brand of revisionism, see Fritz-Peter Habel's critique on the history page).
2001/03/07 VDA Prize to KDV. The over 125-year old VDA (Verein fuer das Deutschtum im Ausland) awarded its 2001 Prize of 50,000 DM (about $22,000) to the Karpatendeutscher Verein in Slovakia. Present at the award ceremony was Rudolf Schuster, president of the Slovak Republic. He spoke but studiously avoided mentionning the Benesch-decrees. However, Bartolomaeus Eiben, the chair of the KDV, reminded the audience of the pain these unjust and racist laws still caused.
2000/08/25-27. Second Carpathian German Day in Pressburg/Bratislava to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the KDV, which has grown to 4,342 members in 36 local branches. About 800 Carpathian Germans from Slovakia, Germany and Austria came. The Slovak government, and the German and Austrian embassies were represented. As Oskar Marczy noted, the chances for survival of our little group are not too bad, all things considered. During a recent visit by President Schuster in Stuttgart, Marczy and other KDL officers spoke with him about the Benes-decrees. Schuster was friendly but stated nothing could be done.
2000/07/12. Madeleine Albright, our Czech-born American Secretary of State, gave Jan Kavan, the Czech foreign minister, an official diplomatic note in which the US government declared any challenge of the Benesch-decrees to be against US interests. This in the same week the US government had Germany (with Austria soon to follow), compensate people who suffered during the Nazi regime from the confiscation of their assets and forced labor solely because of their ethnicity, and did not yet receive any share of the $100 billion paid by Germany and Austria since the 1950s. To deny at the same time Germans whose assets were confiscated and who often had to perform slave labor after the war solely because of their ethnicity the protection of the law shows a perverted sense of morality at the very least. However, since no compensation fund has been set up by the Czech government, should a class-action suit be filed by Sudeten Germans in the US against Czech firms and insurance companies that benefitted from theft and slave labor, then it is likely that any judge will disregard that "statement of interest," as they have the right to do.
2000/02/10. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan stated to Austria that under no circumstances would the Czech Republic alter the Benesch-Decrees. It is to be hoped that the European Union will apply pressure to change his defense of genocidal laws contrary to the UN Charter and common decency. Kavan is on a roll, though, and reiterated his statements on Feb. 28 in Die Welt.
1999/04/15. The European Parlament in Brussels adopted a resolution asking the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovenia (in ex-Yugoslavia) to abolish postwar laws that discriminate against former citizens solely because of their ethnicity, i. e. the Benesch-Decrees, and in Slovenia the AVNOJ-Decrees, before joining the European Union, thereby rejecting the advice of theCouncil of Ministers which wanted the Czechs certified as democracy without shadows from the past. On May 20, 1999, the Austrian Parlament (Nationalrat) passed a resolution condemning the Benesch-Decrees and demanding that the Czech Republic abolish these before being able to join the EU, which is based on respect for individuals. Czech nationalists are alarmed, for this may delay Czech membership and access to the fleshpots (EU-subventions) of the rich West. Right now, Slovak politicians refuse to void the Benesch-decrees by pointing to the Czech Republic
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The HRC has each time refused to rule on the suits, rejecting them because the petitioners had "not exhausted all domestic remedies," and finding also that since all people expropriated before 1948 were being treated alike, there was no evidence of ethnic discrimination. (The logic reminds of the deep South in the 1950s--since the poll tax applies in principle to all, the law is not racist). The rejections used the same "boilerplate" arguments, with minor variations. The three cases were:
1. Ruediger Schlosser v. Czech Republic, Communication 670/1995, ruling of October 5, 1998, 64th session. The father, Franz Schlosser, from Aussig, was a Social-Democrat militant and opponent of Hitler. On the paper he should have been exempted from the summary voiding of citizenship but of course not, since that exception was mere window-dressing to allow Benesch to claim he did not conduct a Hitler-style ethnic cleansing. For the entire ruling, see Schlosser v. Czech Republic
2. Gerhard Malik v. Czech Republic, Communication 669/1995, ruling of November 3, 1998, 64th session. The Malik family is from Schoenbrunn/Oder. For the entire text, see Malik v. Czech Republic
3. Peter Drobek v. Slovakia, Communication 643/1995 of July 14, 1997, 60th session. The rejection is noted in Drobek v. Slovak Republic and Drobek v. Slovak Republic
In 1949 the Hilfskomitee fuer die ev.-luth. Karpatendeutschen calculated that about 13,000 Germans had been killed between Summer 1944 and Dezember 1946. Paul Brosz, in Das letzte Jahrhundert, p. 66, notes that probably 23,000 Carpathian Germans were killed during and after the war, 13,000 being civilians murdered between Summer 1944 and the closing of the camps in 1947, plus 9,000 soldiers at the front and about 1,000 civilians deported to Sibiria. This means of blood toll of 16%, or every sixth Carpathian German. This number does not include the 9,900 Carpathian German Jews. When the German government tallied the losses, it included them because they had registered as ethnic Germans of Jewish faith and of course were our fellow Carpathian German countrymen. But their fates differed radically during the war. They were not killed for being Germans, but for being Jews. But they are Carpathian German victims of the war as well. Our memorial in Danbury includes them among our losses.
By the end of 1946, the majority of interned Carpathian Germans were deported to Germany and Austria. Between 6,000 to 10,000 remained in Slovakia, usually women married to Slovak men, and the village of Hopgarten, (today Chmelnica),protected by its remotedness and a lot of luck. These are estimates. In the absence of complete lists, the number of victims is estimated based on statistical analysis, just as for any other mass-tragedy, such as the genocide of the Jews or the genocide of the Armenians. In the 1990s, a historical commision of Czech- and Slovak historians, and "reeducated" German historian, including Ferdinand Seibt, used a variety of accounting tricks to argue that "only" 40,000 Sudeten Germans and "hundreds" of Carpathian Germans died in these years in massacres and camps. For political reasons, the KDL does not make an issue of these fake numbers, and our brethren in Slovakia are prevented from very understandable political considerations from challenging them. I mention this criticism because websurfers may encounter sites, including Carpathian German sites, that use these politically opportune numbers and may feel bewildered.
There is an official German investigation about the ethnic cleansing of Germans in Eastern Europe Headed by the historians Werner Conze, Hans Rothfels and Theodor Schieder, it collected evidence and testimony from victims in the early 1950s, when memories were still fresh. This Dokumentation der Vertreibung der Deutschen aus Ost--Mitteleuropa, or Documentation on the Deportation of the Germans from East and Central Europe, an English translation exists but I base this on the German original), has eight or nine volumes, organized by geographical area. Volume IV, Die Vertreibung der deutschen Bevoelkerung aus der Tschechoslowakei, has 2 books, and in the second there are, under testimonies 129 to 137, Carpathian German testimonies covering the time from the uprising to the "ethnic cleansing." They make for sad reading. For instance, the peasant Alexander Mosurak reported that in Novaky, they were put into barracks without any beds or straw to sleep on the ground, and then:
"With insufficient food, we had to go daily to work, cutting trees. Our food consisted of 0.15 liters (6 fl. oz) of pea-soup, mornings and evenings. The peas were often still half-raw, which harmed digestion. Sicknesses, especially the dysentery (Ruhr), broke out and the mass-dying began. Daily 30 to 40 people died. The graves had to be dug by the families themselves in an open field, for it was not allowed to bury Germans with Slovaks....Despite the illnesses, we had to continue to work. None of us still hoped to survive. Only when a Catholic priest was able to get to the Red Cross, did we get a small ration of bread, too. This was the first after 10.5 weeks."
Carpathian German suffering is described in greater detail in two books:
Isidor Lasslob and Adalbert Hudak, eds. Leidensweg der Karpatendeutschen 1944-1946, Eine Dokumentation. (Stuttgart:
Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Karpatendeutschen, 1983, 2nd ed. 1995). ISBN 3-9800778-2-9.
The 137-page book contains testimony from survivors, copies of documents and photos. Check the page "Annoted Bibliography" for address for ordering. This book has been being translated into English by our Landsmann Julius Loisch. To order it, send $24 (includes postage) to John E. Scholtz, Secretary
Carpathian Germans in USA and Canada
14100 Worthington Road
Philadelphia, PA 19116
Heinrich Koch. Unser Holocaust. (Wien: KDL Oesterreich 2001).
An excellent 68 pages booklet, with testimony and documents. Euro 4 (US-$4) plus postage from the KDL in Vienna.
For the general framework, read:
Alfred de Zayas. Nemesis at Potsdam. The Anglo-Americans and the Expulsion of the Germans: Background, Execution, Consequences. (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1977) ISBN 07100 0458 3. There is a new, revised 1998 edition from Picton Press in Rockport, Maine, with the ISBN 0-89725-360-4. The book can be ordered from the press at 1-201-236-6565.
Alfred de Zayas. A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944-1950.
New York: St Martin's Press 1994. ISBN 0-312-12159-8 (pbk). 180 pages. This book is shorter and without pictures.
In these two works, the American international lawyer and senior advisor at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, analyses the brutal ethnic cleansing of 15 million German civilians from their Eastern homelands, including Czechoslovakia. The topic is very "politically incorrect" on US campuses since the 1950s, even more than looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a non-Zionist point-of-view. And so very few of the many PhDs that come out of US campuses every year dare to look at this part of modern history. Zayas had the courage, and a supportive dissertation advisor, to launch him into this topic. Because of the silence, consider buying a copy for your local library, too.
Both books are available online among else from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Buy a copy and donate it to your public library!