Eigil Leth on the Conditions of Jews in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939
Mr. Foreign Minister
I have the honour of forwarding the 3 copies of the confidential report received from the Royal. Consul General in Prague. Dated the 3rd. concerning - the Conditions of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. I have the honour to remain with the highest consideration
Dear Chamberlain Zahle
The situation has worsened considerably, since 21 September of the same year, when I last reported about the conditions here. By the messages I have received I am under the impression that the State Protector and several of his officials sincerely wanted to establish a good relationship between Germans and Czechs. However, the party with the Sudeten German Secretary of State, Mr. Frank at the helm have completely lacked the tact needed or they may have thought that with hardness one should suppress any resistance from the Czechs.
Now you can see a Germanization of the Protectorate in all areas.
Many Czech estates, whose owners at the establishment of the Protectorate stayed abroad and did not return home, and estates which, at the demarcation, were located partly in the Protectorate and partly in the German Empire, are placed under German administration. It is expected, that similar extensions will take place in regard to German Colonization. Jewish businesses are mostly being handed over to Germans. In Banks and Industrial Enterprises, there is strong pressure from the German side for mergers and transactions, so that the main influence of the company in question can be transferred to rich German banks.
Perhaps some of these transactions - as a bank director familiar with Czech transactions in the post-World Bank banking sector, has told me - are merely restitutions, but in my opinion, the German proceed with greater severity and consistency than the Czechs in this regard.
Mr Chamberlain Herluf Zahle
Royal envoy in Berlin
Everywhere the German language is being preferred over the Czech language. Learning institutions and theatres are taken over by the German Reich and Germans are hired in all institutions and administration offices. For example, an order has been imposed on the Tram conductors to call out the stations, first in German and then secondly in Czech, has caused unnecessary commotion of the public.
In Bohemia and Moravia, there were no food shortages and before the war broke out, there were large supplies and industrial goods of great quality. In a short period of time, the stocks have been emptied and a rationing system has been introduced. The rationing is not yet as widespread as in the German Reich but it is just a matter of time before this happens and then there will be a "Gleichschaltung". In addition, Dualism in the Administration contributes to the fact that the demand for rationed consumer goods is hardly as well organized as in the German Empire. People often go to buy items, which according to the card system should be available just to find out that it is not.
After the Munich Decree last year, the diminished territory of Czechoslovakia was established, and many Czechs believed that with a little goodwill they could establish great relations with the German Empire. After the creation of the Protectorate, a few people still hoped this was possible but now you won’t find a single Czech person that doesn’t feel resentment against Germany. I don’t think that these feelings will cause any outbreaks as long as the German discipline stands firm. The people are not armed and they know that the German troops and the German police will suppress any demonstration with extreme brutality.
In the first period of the Protectorate there where arrests among the supporters of Beneš', undesired politicians, legionaries, and others. However, many of the arrested
The prominent Jews, the ones who lived there before the World War, are not as affected by the Jewish persecutions as others. I know of several examples of Jewish Bank Directors, although retired, that are working a couple of hours daily in the Bank to explain the conditions to the new Managers and live peacefully in their villas. However, they had to turn in their cars and radios. I have also heard of Jewish lawyers that work from home and then have their Aryan colleagues take the cases to court. Some Jewish doctors have been given temporary work in hospitals. Jews who can’t
Under the conditions described above, the former Czechoslovakia National Day, on October 28, was met with great anxiety. When it was reported that the Czechs wanted to grieve that day, the Germans had planned a mourning ceremony for the fallen people in Poland. The Czechs then canceled their plans, and the Czech national unity party ordered its members to stay indoors and keep calm. The Germans also distanced themselves from holding the mourning ceremony. Despite the fact that it was Labour Day, the traffic in the main streets was very busy. In spite of the prohibition, many Czech people wore cockades with silk ribbons in the Czechoslovakia colours, and many male persons covered their heads with the same kind of cap of as the late President Masaryk usually wore. All the Czech Police was stationed in the Main Streets and the German Police and S.S.-members had taken up positions as a reserve in side streets and passages. The tensions erupted into fights as large sections the S.A.-members passed through the main streets with music, and various clashes between the Czech people's groups and the police took place. In some streets, the Communists demonstrated, and German police had to support the Czech police to get the streets cleared. During the clashes, a couple of persons (allegedly a dozen people) were killed and some of them were injured. A couple of young people were arrested.
However, in view of the population’s agitated state of mind, the events must be considered less serious than one might have expected. This was also stated to me by a German Official from the Chancellor's Office. However, we cannot exclude that the incidents will give rise to new
(sign.) Leth, Eigil.
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