The_Holocaust_in_Bohemia_and_Moravia._Cz.pdf - Introduction...

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I NTRODUCTION R O n the day when the ‘Jewish star’ (Judenstern) decree came into force in the Greater German Reich, Petr Ginz, a thirteen-year-old resident of Prague, wrote in his diary: ‘It’s foggy. The Jews have to wear a badge … I counted sixty-nine sheriffs on the way to school, and then mummy saw more than a hundred’. 1 So far, historical studies on anti-Jewish policies in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia have viewed the introduction of the ‘Jewish badge’ as the application of a German law and nothing more. In fact, it had a far more interesting and complex background. The impetus for this Reich-wide decree actually came from the capital of the Protectorate in July 1941 rather than Berlin, where Goebbels merely adopted the proposal. As we will see, however, the German Reich protector (Reichsprotektor) did not come up with this idea on his own. It was in fact proposed in earlier submissions from Czech fascists and had been discussed by the ruling Czech party. The present study thus seeks to answer a number of new questions. What was the relative importance of German and Czech persecution within the Protectorate? What scope and significance did local and regional initiatives have? How autonomous and radical were developments in the Protectorate in comparison with Germany, Austria and occupied Poland? How did discriminatory policies affect the Jewish population? And – especially important – how did the Czech Jews respond to worsening persecution? "THE HOLOCAUST IN BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA: Czech Initiatives, German Policies, Jewish Responses" by Wolf Gruner, Translated from the German by Alex Skinner.
2 The Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia As yet, scholars have ignored the significance of anti-Jewish poli- cies in annexed Bohemia and Moravia both to the overall development of such measures in the Greater German Reich and their escalation. This applies not just to the initiatives of the Reich protector and other German agencies but even more to measures implemented by the Czech government, the Czech ministries and Czech organizations. After the Munich Agreement and the acquisition of the Sudeten region, the Nazi state occupied ‘rump Czechoslovakia’ on 15 March 1939, with Hitler declaring the newly established ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’ a semi-autonomous part of the Reich. Of more than 118,000 Jews living in the Bohemian and Moravian part of what had been the Czechoslovak Republic, only around 25,000 managed to flee by October 1941. Once the occupation had begun, the German and Czech author- ities quickly stepped up their anti-Jewish activities in the territory. Jews were divested of their property and – a fact rarely acknowledged – had already been partially ghettoized by 1940. Later, when plans for early deportation foundered, Jews were used as forced labour. Finally, from 1941, they were either transported east or to the Theresienstadt Ghetto; in the latter case they were deported on to other destinations.

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