In his comprehensive and dispassionate work Deutscher Exodus (Seewald Verlag), Gerhard Ziemer writes:
“According to a very painstaking calculation of the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, the German civilian population lost 2,280,000 members to flight, expulsion and deportation. These people were shot or beaten to death or died of hunger and exhaustion in the labor camps of the deportation process in the East.”
“The number of victims of the expulsion never impacted on public awareness in the East or West. Even in Germany only a small minority is aware of it. It has not become a topic for journalism and the mass media like the victims of Fascism and the persecution of the Jews have.”
The statistics and documentation of these monstrosities have remained unknown. Official German authorities do not mention or publicize them even when Eastern or Southeastern countries make demands for restitution.
It would be easy to say that the events in the East and Southeast were a just and fair response to the previous National Socialist misdeeds. But were the people in Prague, Warsaw and Belgrade called to avenge the Jewish fate on innocent Germans? Was it right to speak of “liberation” and then to eradicate entire population groups? To expel 15 million people from their homes?
People utterly ignorant of history try to excuse that eruption of hatred with the suppression of Czech sovereignty. But if that were a viable argument, then the Sudeten Germans could well also have massacred the Czechs in 1938; they had been deprived of their own sovereignty and their right to self-determination for not seven, but 20 years. Nevertheless they did the Czechs no harm whatsoever in 1938.
If suppression of sovereignty were really to justify bestial genocide, then the South Tyroleans as well would have the moral “right” to slit their Italian masters’ throats. For some 70 years now they too have been deprived of their sovereignty and their right to self-determination.
The tragedy of the Sudeten Germans began 70 years ago, with the collapse of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Millions of people were imbued with the desire for self-determination, which the American President had led them to believe was their right.
When the Monarchy collapsed and the constituent parts were struggling for a new formation, the German local government officials and mayors of the Sudetenland already took their oaths of office in allegiance to the Republic of Austria. In the last days of October 1918 the Sudeten German parliamentary representatives had already constituted the provinces of “Sudetenland” and “German Bohemia” and had annexed these directly to Austria.
In the days that followed, however, Czech troops in Austrian uniforms occupied the defenseless and totally demilitarized Sudetenland, despite vigorous protests by the entire German population. Local resistance – which sprung up despite the express wishes of the command posts of the People’s Army, stationed in Vienna, and the newly formed Sudeten German provincial government – achieved only small-scale successes and could not prevent the course of things to come. The occupation was accompanied by hostage-taking and brutally violent measures; local resistance was even quashed with artillery fire, arbitrary censorship was inflicted on the press, district councils were dissolved, and the entire Austrian state property was “expropriated”.
On March 4, 1919, the Austrian National Assembly solemnly convened its first session in Vienna. Czech troops forcibly prevented the participation of Sudeten German representatives.
In large-scale demonstrations the public now demanded freedom and democracy, and that right to self-determination which the Allies had declared to be one of their own aims of war. The Sudeten Germans congregated at these proclamations unarmed, informed by their faith in their right. But then the incomprehensible happened. On Czech orders, Czechs in uniform shot at those gathered together. The crashing of hand grenades accompanied the salvos of gunfire and the screams of those mortally wounded – 54 dead and hundreds of injured remained lying in the streets. Among the places where this happened were Arnau, Aussig, Eger, Kaaden, Mies, Karlsbad, Sternberg and Freudenthal. The 54 dead included 20 women and girls, an 80-year-old man, one youth of 16, one of 13 and one only eleven years old! This bloody event that ought to have shaken the world to its foundations remained without echo.
Later, to justify the use of armed force, it was claimed that the Czech executive powers had acted in sudden, nervous panic. They had not; they had acted on an order given by the Prague Ministry of the Interior, instructing them to prevent the proclamations with force of arms. That explains the fact that the shooting of participants in these demonstrations took place everywhere at almost exactly the same time.
In this way, demonstrations that might have attracted world attention were to be thwarted once and for all. Any attempt at exercising the right to self-determination drew immediate gunfire. After March 4, another 53 Germans fell victim to Czech bullets. More than 2,000 gravely wounded were taken to hospitals. That was the beginning of the sham democracy along the Moldau River (“Vltava”). The cries for self-determination had been drowned in blood.
In the following we record the names of the Sudeten Germans murdered on March 4, 1919 – shot by Czech officers for their belief in their right to self-determination.
Among the dead of March 4 were 20 women and girls. There was one 80-year-old, but also 16 persons aged 19 or younger, two of them were only 14, one was 13 and one as young as 11!
In the time from 1918 to 1924 another 63 Sudeten Germans lost their lives in this way. They came from Wiesa-Oberleutensdorf, Gastdorf near Leitmeritz, Brüx, Moravian Trübau, Kaplitz, Znaim, Pressburg, Freudenthal, Arnau, Oblas near Znaim, Pilsen, Pohrlitz in South Moravia, Leitmeritz, Iglau, Zuckmantel, Asch, Aussig and Graslitz.