Eigil Leth on the Conditions of Jews in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939



Document Text

  1. English
Text from page1

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

Text from page2

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.

Your honour

Mr Chamberlain Herluf Zahle

Royal envoy in Berlin

Text from page3

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

Text from page4
have since been released and they believed that the main clash with Germans and people not well regarded by them had taken place. When the war broke out, Gestapo's activity increased and in addition to the before-mentioned, a large number of members of the Military were now also arrested, as well as people from the industries, clerics and many others. Ever since it looks like the arrests won’t stop and it is difficult to see a system in the actions of Gestapo, you might see this as taking hostages. A former Czech politician and diplomat, which has been retired for several years, told me about some of the arrests. He told about how certain people on the Gestapo's list of arrests had remained in Freedom – at least until now – just because they were not at home when the Gestapo came for them, so the police went on to the next one on the list. My informant told me that he changed his residence because he was afraid that he was going to be arrested. Many of the arrested people will be sent to the concentration camp Buchenwald in Germany. A reliable source told me that the internees are treated just as it is described in the newly published English white paper about German concentration camps.

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

Text from page5
prove a permanent residence in the Protectorate seem to be facing very bad times. They will probably all be transferred to Poland, to the regions around Lemberg. From Mährisch Ostrau, many Hundreds of Jews have already been sent to this area to do Labour service in preparation for the great relocation.

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

Text from page6
reprisals against the Czechs, and the resentment against the Germans will then be further increased.

Yours sincerely

Your devoted

(sign.) Leth, Eigil.


This Report was sent with a Swedish Courier to the Swedish Embassy in Berlin for its Further Action.


  • Updated 4 years ago
The German army occupied Denmark on 9 April 1940. Until 1943, the occupation regime appeared relatively benign: It dominated foreign policy, but allowed the Danish government complete autonomy in domestic affairs, including control of the legal system and police forces. The tone of the German occupation changed in early 1943. Rather than yield to German demands, the Danish government resigned on 29 August 1943. German authorities took direct control of the Danish military and police forces. Othe...


  • Danish National Archives
  • Denmark
  • Rigsdagsgaarden 9
  • Kopenhaagen
  • Updated 1 year ago