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Czechoslovakia in WWII

The long-awaited post! At least for me. I finally, finally checked out and read another WWII story, just for the sake of a new history post. I was really beginning to miss those. 

Now, before I continue, let me just say how much I loved this book. I was able to read it in one sitting and, as soon as I was through, desperately wanted to reread it. I highly recommend Joan M. Wolf’s Someone Named Eva.



Summary: When the Gestapo raid the village of Lidice, Milada is taken away from her best friend and her family. Thanks to her Aryan looks, Milada is taken to a special school in Poland, where she is dubbed Eva and then spends the next two years being indoctrinated with Nazi ideology, all so that she can become the perfect German wife one day. At the end of her schooling, Eva is adopted into a very important SS family, and while she doesn’t exactly trust Herr Werner (and for good reason, since he runs Rävensbruck, which is practically in his backyard), she comes to love her new Mutter, her new sister Elsbeth, and even her new pesky brother Peter. But she dreams of the day when the war is over and she can return to her family and her beloved Czechoslovakia. Her grandmother’s pin becomes the only piece of her from her former life.

On March 15, 1939, Hitler’s men marched into Czechoslovakia.

After that, Slovakia became an independent state (though supported by Hitler), while the Czech government was taken over by Hitler.

Forced to proclaim their non-Jewish, non-Roma heritage by showing family trees as far back as their grandparents, with harsh rationing, and blackouts, most Czechs felt trapped. Many even sough suicide as a way out. Swastika flags lined their streets, as did SS guards. Still more drove through the streets in Swastika-decorated vehicles. School books were replaced with pro-Nazi books. Likewise, any permitted books, music, and plays were filled with Nazi propaganda. And the only movies allowed could not be nationalistic and had to contain German subtitles. Foreign radio stations and political jokes were banned. And, as in any Nazi-occupied zone, executions were regular. It’s no wonder so many people preferred suicide.

As the war wore on, conditions grew worse. Their streets were garbage-ridden. Most people worked 64 hours per week, with “as many as 10 hours on Sunday” (Source). Between these long hours and poor diets, infectious diseases were common. By 1944, most shops in Prague were closed due to lack of supplies.

[Below: German troops move into Prague]



Like many other occupied countries, Czechoslovakia had a well-organized resistance group. Their resistance was tightly collaborated with Britain, and some 2,489 men fought with the 11th Infantry Battalion-East from both Slovakia and the Czech government.

Then, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Czech communists formed a Soviet intelligence organization in Prague. (Which did them a whole lot of good, considering the post-war Soviet occupation that lasted oh . . . decades.)

“Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the assassination plot of the Nazi leader, Reinhard Heydrich” (Source). In 1941, Hitler sent Heydrich (father of Operation Reinhard) to Prague. Wasting no time with his new assignment, he handed out death sentences as soon as the next day. This earned him nicknames such as “The Butcher of Prague” and “The Hangman.”

Wanting to “stir up the nation’s consciousness,” seven paratroopers were chosen to assassinate Heydrich” (Source). Unfortunately, the Gestapo got wind of their plan and were able to attack them down in a Prague church. In the subsequent shootout, three of the men died “trying to buy time for the others who were attempting to dig an escape route” (Source). These four later took their own lives with their remaining bullets.

The onslaught was devastating. Karl Herrmann, Heydrich’s successor, had 10,000 Czechs executed. Additionally, two villages were leveled, one of them Milada’s Lidice.

On June 10, 1942, Hitler ordered the Gestapo to murder “all 173 males over 15″ (Source). Later, several others were arrested and executed.

At the same time, some 184 women and 88 children were deported to concentration camps (such as Rävensbruck). Those few children who looked German enough (such as Milada) were Germanized and then handed over to SS families. The remaining children were sent to Chetmo Execution Camp and gassed.

Meanwhile, the village of Lidice “was set on fire and the remains of the buildings were destroyed with explosives” (Source). All animals were slaughtered. The graves were dug up and looted. Even streams and roads were rerouted. And, lastly, the entire area was covered with topsoil and crops were planted.

After the war, only 153 women and 17 children returned.

[Below: Lidice in the 1930s]



Up Next: 

The Three Kings: The Czechoslovakian Resistance

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Expanding WWII Pt 2: Why Gen. Patton Was a Hero

Many people don’t know that General Patton and his Third Army wanted to continue fighting. General Patton, unlike most people of the day realized the true threat that the Soviets posed not just to America, but also, more  importantly, to Europeans. See, after the war, the Soviets occupied a number of countries and the citizens of these countries were worse off under Stalin than they ever were under Hitler. Today, a misinformed America still thinks of Stalin as good ol’ “Uncle Joe,” the war hero. Nothing could be further from the truth.

See, the non-Nazi Germans realized this. Yes, believe it or not, there were Germans who were not Nazis, who were disgusted by the Nazis, but were fighting for their country simply because they wanted to keep it safe from Stalin. Turned out, they were right.

A good number of these men were in the Luftwaffe, you may be familiar with the Luftwaffe – or at least it’s POW camps – thanks to Hogan’s Heroes. There is a level of truth in this show, in that the majority of the Luftwaffe (barring Göring, of course) were not Nazis. They were Germans fighting for their homeland, just like the British and the Americans.

Now, as the war was wrapping up, these men would willing surrender to the British or the Americans, but not the Soviets because they were aware that the Soviets did not play by the rules of war. At the same time, they were hoping that at the war’s end, they would join forces with the Allies and defeat the Soviets.

Turns out, they, and many others, and approached Patton on this subject. Pleading with him to do something to free them from the grips of the Soviets. Patton was inclined to help. Many others were not:

“Patton burst out, ‘It’s all a God-damned shame . . . Day after day, some poor bloody Czech, or Austrian, or Hungarian, even German officers come into my headquarters. I almost have to keep them from going down on their knees to me. With tears in their eyes they say, “In the name of God, general, come with your army the rest of the way into our country. Give us a chance to set up our own governments. Give us this last chance to live before it’s too late, before the Russians make us slaves forever.”’

“‘That’s what they tell me, and every damned one of them has offered to fight under my flag and bring their men with them. Hell, a German general offered his entire air fore, the Third, to fight the Russians if necessary. . . . By God, I would like to take them up on it. I’ll feel like a traitor if I don’t.’

“At that point, writes [Fred] Ayer [Jr., nephew to Patton], an ‘uneasy, feeling swept the room.

“Patton disregarded it.

“‘These people are right. They won’t have a chance. We’ve signed away their lives. By God, we ought to tear up those damned fool agreements [with the Soviets] and march right through to the eastern borders. . . .’

“Ayer, worried for his uncle, blurted out, ‘Uncle George . . . you can’t talk that way here.’

“Patton shot back coldly, ‘Yes I can. I’ll talk any damned way I want. I know what we ought to do. We promised these people freedom. It would be worse than dishonorable not to see that they have it. This might mean war with the Russians, of course; but what of it? They have no air force any more, their gas and munitions supplies are low. I’ve seen their miserable supply trains . . . I’ll tell you this . . . the Third Army alone . . . could lick what’s left of the Russians in six weeks. . . . Mark my words. . . . Some day we’ll have to fight them. . . .’”

Patton and his Third Army realized the threat that Stalin and the Soviets posed. They were willing to continue the fight and to risk their lives to finish the job they’d started. If only someone had listened, the next almost 50 years would have been different. And America could be proud of itself. Proud that it had finished the job. That we had made sure that not just a few were liberated from the oppression of dictators, but that all of Europe was free. Patton could have stopped the surly bonds of Communism before it took over the world.

But no one wanted to listen.

Works Cited:

Wilcox, Robert K. Target Patton. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2008. 115. Print.

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Germany Occupies the Sudetenland


The Sudetenland: made up of western Czechoslovakia (mostly inhabited by ethnic Germans) as well as parts of Moravia and countries associated with Bohemia. Because of the many ethnic Germans living in this area, Hitler wanted it annexed as well. And so, during the Munich Agreement (to be discussed later), Chamberlain all but handed it over – with, of course, the never-intended-to-be-kept-agreement that this would appease Hitler. This is largely why Chamberlain (and his biggest supporters) is now almost synonymous with appeasement.

Ultimately, this act just emboldened Hitler to continue his annexation – or invasion – of other countries.


Prior to the Munich Agreement, in March of 1938, Hitler had met with Konrad Helein, head of the Sudeten-German party. Initially, Helein had promised to compromise with Hitler, allowing his citizens free reign “to pursue membership in Germany’s Nazi Party” (Source). This was known as the Carlsbad Decrees. However, Hitler already knew this would never go over well with the Czech government. These demands would seem too unreasonable. So, he appealed to Britain and France instead. The German citizens in Czechoslovakia were being unfairly oppressed. And only he could right this wrong. By incorporating the Sudetenland into Germany.

Prime Minister Chamberlain and other Western Powers were in strong agreement that they wanted to avoid another war. So, Chamberlain pressured Czechoslovakia President, Evard Benes, to give in. Benes resisted and, instead, in May 1938, “ordered mobilization of his nation’s military in response to reported German troop movements. Europe was on a path to war” (Source).

[Below: Germans enter the Sudetenland]



PM Chamberlain now attempted to pressure President Benes to mediate the situation. Needing to stay on good terms with the Western Powers, President Benes reluctantly agreed. He soon put forth the Fourth Plan, essentially giving Nazi Germany everything it asked for. This did little to help the situation.

Violence still erupted across the Sudetenland via protesting Germans. This, unfortunately, only reinforced Hitler’s theory of the oppression of “his” people in the Sudetenland. Czech troops responding to the violence only made this worse.

On September 15, Hitler and Chamberlain met. Hitler made his demands clear: Sudetenland or war. 

Chamberlain gave him Sudetenland.

But, the Czech government resisted this agreement, so Chamberlain offered them his own ultimatum: Give up the area or lose any future assistance from western Europe” (Source).

Czechoslovakia still refused to budge. Their army was well-equipped with modern conveniences. They were ready to go to war. But only with Britain and France as their allies. “A stalemate ensued” (Source).

And so, on September 29, Hitler met with Britain, France, and his alley, Italy. Again, Czechoslovakia was left out. This meeting resulted in the Munich Agreement. Czechoslovakia had no choice but to agree.

[Below: Germans greeted by ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland.]



Up Next: 


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