Saturday, September 3, 2022

Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia

The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Protektorát Čechy a Morava, was established on 16 March 1939 and lasted until the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945.

From 1933, Czechoslovakia was Central Europe's only functioning democracy.  The First Republic ended following the 1938 Munich Agreement, where the UK and France sold out the country in hopes of preserving peace in Europe, which enabled Nazi Germany to occupy the Sudetenland.

What was left of Czechoslovakia become the Second Czechoslovak Republic.  This lasted from 30 September 1938 to 15 March 1939.  On 14 March 1939, Slovakia broke off as an "independent" Nazi puppet state.  What was left became the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

There were about 7,38 million people and 3,3% of them were ethnic Germans who were given German citizenship.  

Emil Hácha

There was a dual system of government with Prague as the capital.  German law applied to ethnic Germans.  Everyone else was a Protectorate subject governed by a Czech puppet administration, led by Státní Prezident Emil Hácha, who had been the President of the Second Czechoslovak Republic since November 1938.

The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia within the Third Reich

The common languages were Germany and Czech.  The Czechoslovak crown was replaced by the Protectorate crown at a rate of 1 German Reichsmark to 10 crowns.  

The workforce was well-trained so people living in the protectorate were used as labour for the German war effort.  Czechs were drafted to work in coal mines, in the iron and steel industries, and to produce armaments.  It became a major production hub for manufacturing aircraft, tanks, and artillery.  This was good for the Nazis because the Protectorate was just beyond the reach of Allied bombers. 

Perhaps because of the need to keep the population nourished enough to carry out the vital arms production work in the factories, but the Nazis had a plan to Germanise the area.  It was believed that about 50% of the population was capable of being Aryanisation.  The other 50% were too Slavic, too intellectual, or too Jewish.  

While there was a Czech President, the ultimate authority was the Reich Protector who was the senior Nazi administrator who represented the interests of the German state. 

On 29 September 1941, Reinhard Heydrich took over as acting Reichsprotektor.  In 1942, the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, led by Edvard Beneš, from the UK, initiated Operation Anthropoid - the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.  One Czech, Jan Kubiš, and one Slovak, Jozef Gabčík, went to Prague to carry out the assassination.  On 27 May 1942, Heydrich was wounded in the attack and he later died of his wounds on 4 June 1942.  Operation Anthropoid was the only verified government-sponsored assassination of a senior Nazi leader during WWII.

Here's the movie trailer for the 2016 film Anthropoid.

Following his death, Hitler was so enraged that he ordered his troops to "wade through blood" to find the killers.  What proceeded was martial law, mass arrests, and the exceptions and obliterations of the the villages of Lidice and Ležáky.

Here's an eight-minute video I found on YouTube about the execution of Reinhard Heydrich - "the Butcher of Prague."

©World History

Next to the Reich Protector, was the State Minister who was in charge of most of the internal security.  From 1939 to 1945, it was Karl Hermann Frank who ran the Gestapo, security service and the police for the Protectorate.  He was involved in the massacres at Lidice and Ležáky and after the war he was executed.

©World History

It's estimated that of the 92,199 Jews living in the Protectorate in 1939, 85% were murdered.

Here's a short, interesting YouTube video on how Czechoslovakia went from an independent, functioning democracy to being carved up during WW2.  

©History Matters

Most Czechs sympathise with Ukraine because they see Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland as the same as Russia's annexation of Crimea.  

Я за Україну. Я за Україною. Слава Україні  Stojím za Ukrajinou!  I stand with Ukraine. 🇺🇦

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