- The republic of Czechoslovakia was established on 28 October 1918. The territory of the new republic consisted of Bohemia and Moravia, parts of Silesia, Slovakia, Ruthenia, and the Sudetenland. The state included many ethnic groups, including Czechs and Slovaks, Ukrainians, Hungarians, and a majority of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland. It was Germany’s demand to incorporate the German population of the Sudetenland that precipitated the Munich Conference on 28–29 September 1938, which led to the incorporation of the area into the Reich and subsequently the invasion of the whole country in March 1939. On 16 March 1939, Adolf Hitler proclaimed the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and although Emil Hacha remained president of the “autonomous” Czech government, in reality it was subject to the interests of Germany. Following the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, the Germans created Slovakia as an independent state. On the eve of the German occupation of dismembered Czechoslovakia, there were 136 Jewish religious congregations in Bohemia and Moravia, with a total Jewish population of approximately 93,000. Following the German occupation, anti-Semitism intensified throughout the territory, with synagogues burned to the ground and Jews subjected to violence. In June 1939 Adolf Eichmann arrived in Prague to deal with the city’s Jewish population of 56,000, and immediately set up his Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration. Like its counterpart in Austria, the office was successful in inducing Jews to leave the country. By October 1941, when Jews were forbidden to emigrate from German-occupied territory, an estimated 26,600 Jews had left the former Czechoslovakia. About 2,500 made their way to Palestine under the Transfer Agreement as a result of negotiations between the Czech Ministry of Finance and the Jewish Agency. In June 1939 Jews in the protectorate were ordered to register and sell their gold and other precious jewels as part of the “Aryanization” program. Once the war began in September 1939, Jews were dismissed from their jobs and expelled from the schools, and many were shipped off to the Lublin ghetto. The bulk of BohemiaMoravia’s 73,000 Jews were sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto and subsequently were deported to the death camps. It is estimated that the total number of Jews in prewar Czechoslovakia (including Slovakia) totaled 350,000, and that an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Czech Jews were killed in death camps such as Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, and Treblinka.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.
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