The displacements or expulsions of entire populations of "ethnic groups" from their native soil will surely go down to history as characteristic of our era. It is the expulsions of the eastern, south eastern, and Sudeten Germans which, today, confront Europe with the acutest problem of this nature. The problem created by the expulsion of more than a million Greeks from Anatolia and Eastern Thrace in 1922 was a tragedy which has not been wholly overcome even to the present day. The problem of the "displaced persons" of central, eastern, and southern Europe, the flight of Arabs from Israel, and the vast twofold exodus of Hindoos and Moslems resulting from the partition of India, still confront us. The number of persons affected far exceeds the number of those that made up the great "migrations of the peoples" following upon the breakup of the Roman Empire.
The displacements and expulsions in our own day have been accompanied by barbaric deeds and methods that violate natural law, the teachings of Christianity, and the ethical standards of humanism. The foundations of international law and of those human rights, in which the last century took such pride, have been shaken by inhumanities which previous generations associated with the barbaric excesses of a distant past.
The first wave of expulsions began during and after the First World War, the second accompanied and followed the Second World War. It is noteworthy that these expulsions were not all of a unilateral nature. Some of them were ordered or sanctioned at conferences held by the Great Powers - at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, for example. That this should be so would seem to indicate a deep-seated moral defection of an ominous character.
The dissolution of Austria-Hungary did not, in the end, confer upon the original component States the independence they had hoped for. It was followed by an explosive nationalism which operated to the grave detriment of these States by overriding those realities which are determined by geography, numerical strength, and industrial productivity. Excessive nationalism, at times concealed beneath doctrines of an ostensible religious or racial character, was amongst the principal forces that engendered the displacements and expulsions.
The creation of a truly organic order in eastern and central Europe was largely thwarted because the right of self-determination was applied in a one-sided manner, to the almost exclusive advantage of the victorious Powers. No "new Switzerland" was established in central Europe, but a region of crises and tensions.
To-day, out of three million Sudeten Germans, two and a half million live as exiles in Germany, most of them in the Federal Republic. The Federal Republic is a friendly land, but it is not their homeland. About one third of the exiles live in the Democratic Republic, amongst a friendly people, it is true, but under Communist domination, the same domination that oppresses their native Czechoslovakia. The Sudeten Germans, therefore, have no true home in Europe to-day, though this fate is not theirs alone - it is shared by millions of Europeans.
This is the essence of the matter. There can be no Europe as an organic whole unless the millions of Europeans in exile can return to their homes. The line known as the Iron Curtain, not only cuts Europe in two, it passes through the heart, cutting that in two. But how shall this division be brought to an end? How is Europe to be restored, to become an organic whole and endure for generations?
These are matters of high policy that will be decided in Washington, London, and Moscow. Upon high policy, the nations of Central Europe can have little influence. But whatever happens (and we do not know, to-day, whether events will move towards a renewed catastrophe or towards a true and general peace) the peoples of Central Europe can promote those conditions which are essential if high policy is not to be rendered abortive. Even if catastrophe comes, those peoples will continue to exist and will surely contribute to the common cause, the European cause. Whether it be peace or war, Western Europe will need the peoples of Central Europe who can prepare in embryo, as it were, their common future and can combine in pursuit of their common purpose - to become the living heart of the European organism.
The following documents provide evidence showing what extreme nationalism can lead to if it is not curbed by sober statesmanship. The present perilous condition of the world makes it seem imperative that the disrupted central European order be restored in the interest not only of the nations immediately concerned, but of all Europe. Memories of a common past, of common aspirations, and of complementary economic interests have revived, in the region, the idea of a federation or of a confederacy. The precise form which any new association of States might assume cannot be determined in advance, but whatever form it may take, it must assuredly be of a kind that will render impossible such deeds and methods as are revealed in these documents.
London, May 1953.F. A. Voigt
The expulsion of the Sudeten German national group which started in May 1945 is one of those important events which have caused the apparently hopeless situation in Central Europe. As the principal outcome of the expulsion, the Russian sphere of activity and influence has been advanced into the heart of our continent. Unfortunately the expulsion itself, the methods used, the planning and organization of the general excesses (which would seem to contravene the United Nation's Convention relating to genocide) are insufficiently known to the public.
In this fully documented memorandum, the events are described by eyewitnesses or persons directly involved. These reports illustrate only a small part of the dreadful acts perpetrated in the course of expulsion, but they nevertheless try to give some kind of a general view of what happened in the Sudeten German areas since May 1945. The following preface presents a historical and political survey, characterizing the reasons and motives of the expulsion as well as the originators of these excesses. The appendix presents the more important diplomatic, legislative and documentary details.
The publication of these documents is by no means intended to attribute collective guilt to the Czechoslovak nation. It is intended to show how greatly ethical standards and international and natural right were injured by these excesses. Morally and legally the Sudeten Germans have a claim to their homeland which was theirs for almost a thousand years. They have a right, also, to reparation and to the punishment of the culprits. With the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, Central Europe lost its balance. There is no solution to the Sudeten German and Czechoslovak problems except within the frame of a new European Order.
For the Committee
of the Association for the Protection of Sudeten German Interests:
Regarding the Translations of these Reports
(Note added by The Scriptorium)
At this point we would like to add an explanatory note regarding the translations you are about to read.
While getting this English edition of the book Dokumente zur Austreibung der Sudetendeutschen ready for publication on the Internet, we had the good fortune to come across a partial translation already in existence: a little less than one-third of the reports contained in the original book were translated into English in the early 1950s by Gerda Johannsen, and we have retained these translations here. However, we have supplemented the selection of reports translated by Ms. Johannsen by our own translations of those reports which were left out of the original English publication. To give credit where credit is due, each report is marked with an icon to indicate the translator of the report in question:
indicates reports translated by Gerda Johannsen, as published in the aforementioned volume (some very slight changes for the sake of "readability" have been made in a few cases);
indicates reports translated by Victor Diodon and/or Arnim Johannis under the auspices of The Scriptorium. These translations are copyrighted by The Scriptorium and may not be reproduced without our express permission;
indicates reports translated in abridged form by Gerda Johannsen and completed as necessary by Victor Diodon and/or Arnim Johannis, OR reports translated by Gerda Johannsen with more than minor corrections being necessary, and corrected accordingly by Victor Diodon and/or Arnim Johannis;
Unmarked text (e.g. the Foreword, Appendices) was either originally already in English, or were taken in their official English version from other sources.