The Sudeten German Party (German: Sudetendeutsche Partei, SdP, Czech: Sudetoněmecká strana) was created by Konrad Henlein under the name Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront ("Front of the Sudeten German Homeland") on 1 October 1933, some months after the First Czechoslovak Republic had outlawed the German National Socialist Workers' Party (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, DNSAP). In April 1935, the party was renamed Sudetendeutsche Partei following a mandatory demand of the Czechoslovak government. The name was officially changed to Sudeten German and Carpathian German Party (Sudetendeutsche und Karpatendeutsche Partei) in November 1935.
With the rising power of Nazi Party in Germany, the Sudeten German Party became a major pro-Nazi force in Czechoslovakia with explicit official aim of breaking the country up and joining it to the Third Reich. By June 1938, the party had over 1.3 million members, i.e. 40.6% of ethnic-German citizens of Czechoslovakia. During last free democratic elections before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the May 1938 communal elections, the party gained 88% of ethnic-German votes, taking over control of most municipal authorities in the Czech borderland. The country's mass membership made it one of the largest fascist parties in Europe at the time.
Sudeten German Party
|Founded||1 October 1933|
|Dissolved||5 November 1938|
|Merger of||German National Socialist Workers' Party,|
German National Party
|Merged into||National Socialist German Workers' Party|
|Headquarters||Aš, later shifted to Cheb|
|Membership (1938)||1.35 million|
In 1903, a group of Sudeten Germans living in the Bohemian crown lands of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy created the German Workers' Party (DAP). Influenced by the ideas of pan-Germanism and anti-Slavism, they opposed the Czech National Revival movement advocated by the Young Czech Party. The history of this party is centered on the cities of Eger (German for present-day Cheb) and Aussig (Ústí nad Labem), it originated and gave the impetus for Austrian National Socialism.
At the end of World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up into several nation states. The DAP was renamed German National Socialist Workers' Party on 5 May 1918 and after the proclamation of Czechoslovakia claimed the right of self-determination in the predominantly German-settled Sudetenland and German Bohemian territories, demanding affiliation with the newly established Republic of German-Austria. However, the new Czech-dominated government demanded the unity of the Bohemian (or now called Czech) lands, as confirmed by the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and considered the Pan-German party offensive and dangerous for the existence of the country. The Czechoslovakian DNSAP led by Hans Knirsch together with the conservative German National Party (Deutsche Nationalpartei, DNP) became the main proponent of so-called "negativism", the general tendency among the Sudeten Germans not to accept the legitimacy of the Czechoslovakian state. Under Knirsch's successor Rudolf Jung, the party increasingly influenced by the rise of the Nazi Party in the German Weimar Republic. In 1933, both the DNSAP and DNP decided to dissolve in order to prevent the imminent ban by the Prague government.
The newly established SdP did not see itself as a successor of the DNSAP; in fact, SdP leader Konrad Henlein sharply rejected the idea. At first he advocated the Ständestaat concept of the Austrofascist movement according to the ideas of Othmar Spann and would have rather preferred the affiliation with the Federal State of Austria than with Nazi Germany. In his earlier speeches (until 1937), Henlein stressed his distance from German National Socialism, affirming loyalty to the Czechoslovak state and stressing approval of the idea of a cantonal system and individual freedom. He later described his contact to Nazi leaders as merely tactical. In 1935 when Karl Hermann Frank became deputy leader, the SdP gradually adopted the DNSAP tradition and became more radical.
In the parliamentary election of May 1935, the SdP with 1,249,534 (15.2%) of the votes became the strongest of all parties in Czechoslovakia. The party had won about 68% of the German votes, thus surpassing the German Social Democratic Workers Party, the German Christian Social People's Party and the Farmers' League. Meanwhile, the influence exerted by the German Nazi dictatorship became stronger and after 1935 several groups within the party were financed by Germany. In November 1937 Adolf Hitler openly declared - according to the Hossbach Memorandum - his intention to separate the Sudetenland from the Czechoslovak state. The SdP officially coordinated this policy with Nazi leaders in order to integrate the German-speaking parts of Bohemia and Moravia into the German Reich.
After the Austrian Anschluss Henlein first met Hitler on 28 March 1938. His policy was the so-called "Grundplanung OA" (Basic planning) of summer 1938 and later in the interior policy of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. In March 1938 the Farmers League joined the SdP, as well as many Christian Social deputies in the Czechoslovak parliament. At a convention in Carlsbad on 24 April the majority of the party advocated the demand of the Sudeten Germans as an autonomous ethnic group, the separation of a self-governing German settlement area and the freedom to decide for the Anschluss to Nazi Germany. At this time the SdP had about 1.35 million members.
In September 1938 the policy of SdP succeeded in the German annexation of Sudetenland according to the Munich Agreement (see: German occupation of Czechoslovakia). On 1 October Henlein was appointed Reichskommissar of the incorporated territories, which became the Reichsgau Sudetenland. After a last convention at Aussig, the organization officially merged into the German Nazi Party at a festive ceremony in Reichenberg (Liberec) on 5 November 1938. However, as many Nazi officials like Reinhard Heydrich were suspicious of the SdP party members, they were not absorbed, but had to apply for admission to the Nazi Party. About 520,000 members were approved, among them Henlein himself who also joined the SS. He was officially appointed Gauleiter in 1939, an office he held until 1945, though largely losing power to Reich Protector Heydrich.
As of October 1938 the SdP/KdP parliamentary club had 52 members from the Chamber of Deputies, and their joint Senate club had 26 members. On 30 October 1938 the parliamenary mandates of 46 deputies and 22 Senators of SdP and KdP were annulled.
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
44 / 300
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
22 / 150
Parliamentary elections were held in Czechoslovakia on 19 May 1935. The result was a victory for the newly established Sudeten German Party, which won 44 seats in the Chamber and 23 in the Senate. Funded by the German Nazi Party, it won over two-thirds of the vote amongst Sudeten Germans. Voter turnout was 91.9% in the Chamber election and 81.2% for the Senate.Carpathian German Party
The Carpathian German Party (German: Karpatendeutsche Partei, abbreviated KdP) was a political party in Czechoslovakia, active amongst the Carpathian German minority of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus'. It began as a bourgeois centrist party, but after teaming up with the Sudeten German Party in 1933 it developed in a National Socialist orientation.Die Zeit (Prague)
Die Zeit ('The Time') was a German language daily newspaper published in Prague, Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938. The newspaper was the central organ of the Sudeten German Party (SdP). The first issue came out on October 1, 1935. Die Zeit took over the role as the central party organ from the weekly Rundschau. Walter Brand was the editor-in-chief of Die Zeit.The newspaper received funds from Germany. 250,000 Reichmark were transferred for the launch of Die Zeit, followed by a monthly subsidy of 10,000 Reichmarks.Die Zeit had an illustrated supplement, Zeitspiegel ('Mirror of Time').As of 1937/1938 SdP re-organized its party press. All small publishing companies were merged in two central publishing companies. On January 1, 1938 Die Zeit, Zeitspiegel and Rundschau came under the management of the publishing company "Pressa-Gesellschaft m. b. H., Herausgabe und Verkauf von Zeitungen und Zeitschriften", at Hybernska Street 4, Prague II. On April 1, 1938 the weekly Die Zeit am Montag ('The Time on Monday') was added to the publications issued by the same company.The SdP shut down its Prague HQ and Die Zeit on September 14, 1938. The suspension of publishing of Die Zeit was supposedly 'temporary'.On October 4, 1938 Die Zeit re-appeared, being published from Dresden, Germany. Once the Reichsgau Sudetenland had been established, Die Zeit became the official NSDAP daily for Sudetenland. The publishing was shifted to Reichenberg. Die Zeit was issued by R.S. Gauverlag Sudetenland G.m.b.H. between 1939-1945. Publication continued at least until February 1945.Farmers' League
Farmers' League (German: Bund der Landwirte, BdL, Czech: Německý svaz zemědělců) was an ethnic German agrarian political party in Czechoslovakia. Ideologically the party was moderately conservative, having its base in the Sudetenland countryside. The party was led by Franz Spina. Landjugend was the youth wing of the party. In the 1920 election, the party won 11 seats (3.9% of the nationwide vote).In the 1925 election, BdL won 24 parliamentary seats (8% of the vote). Following the election, BdL joined the Czechoslovak government. Spina became a national minister. After having entered the government the party began cooperation with the Czechoslovak agrarians.In the 1929 election, the BdL parliamentary presence was halved. The party got 12 seats, having got 4% of the national vote.After the DNP and DNSAP had been banned in October 1933, the political atmosphere in Sudetenland changed. The BdL came under pressure from rightwing radicals in Landjugend, and formed a movement called Landstand led by Gustav Hacker (the leader of Landjugend). Landstand was formed with the intention of enabling cooperation with the Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront (SHF). Through the creation of Landstand, it is possible that BdL sought to pre-empt competition from SHF in the Sudetenland countryside. BdL hoped to achieve a division of labour between Landstand and SHF, thinking that SHF would mobilize urban populace and BdL/Landstand would retain their dominance over rural German politics. These overtures to the SHF caused rifts in the Czechoslovak government. The DSAP (German Social Democrats), who were also in the government, were particularly worried and called upon BdL to differentiate themselves from 'the fascists'. In the end, BdL was side-lined as the Czechoslovak agrarians began to cooperate directly with SHF. Landstand became a short-lived movement.In the 1935 election, BdL gathered 1.7% of the national vote. The party got five parliamentary seats. The party suffered badly from the competition from the Sudeten German Party (SdP), the new incarnation of SHF. After the election, BdL began to reorient itself towards cooperation with democratic forces, declaring their support to Edvard Beneš as president just before the election. But the party suffered continuously from defections from its ranks.In the new scenario, BdL was divided into two fractions. One led by Hackner, who had become chairman of the party, and another led by Spina. After the Anschluß of Austria, Hacker called on all BdL members to join SdP. The situation in BdL became more and more chaotic. On March 22, 1938, Hacker proclaimed himself as the 'plenipotentiary' of BdL, and went on to declare the party to merged into SdP. The Spina-led fraction tried to regroup, but failed to reconstruct the BdL.Franz Karmasin
Franz Karmasin (2 September 1901 – 25 June 1970) was an ethnic German politician in Czechoslovakia, who helped found the Carpathian German Party. During World War II he was state secretary of German affairs in the Slovak Republic, and rose to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer. Tried in absentia and sentenced to death, he fled to West Germany where until his death he was active in the Witikobund, a right-wing extremist organization that claimed to represent Sudeten Germans.German Christian Social People's Party
German Christian Social People's Party (German: Deutsche Christlich-Soziale Volkspartei, DCVP, Czech: Německá křesťansko sociální strana lidová) was an ethnic German political party in Czechoslovakia, formed as a continuation from the Austrian Christian Social Party. It was founded in November 1919 in Prague. The party had good relations with its Czechoslovak brother party.In the summer of 1919, a programme for the party was drafted. On September 28, 1919, the programme was approved by a Bohemian party conference in Prague. On November 2, 1919, the program was adopted at a national party conference with delegates from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.The party had an agrarian front, Reichbauernbund (a name retained from the Austrian period), and a trade union centre, Deutsch-Christlichen Gewerbe- und Handwekerbund.In the 1920 election, the party won ten seats (3.6% of the nationwide vote).In the 1925 election, DCVP won 13 parliamentary seats (4.3% of the vote). After the election, the party joined the Czechoslovak national government, and DCVP politician Robert Mayr-Harting became Minister of Justice. In 1926 Gottlieb Pruscha succeeded Kirsch as general secretary of the party.As of 1928, the party had around 38,000 members. Around 22,000 of them lived in Bohemia, 9,000 in Silesia and Northern Moravia and 7,000 in Central and Southern Moravia.In the 1929 election, the DCVP got 14 seats, having got 4.7% of the national vote. After the election, DCVP was excluded from the national government.In the 1935 election, DCVP gathered 2% of the national vote. The party got six parliamentary seats. After the election, the party supported the candidature of Edvard Beneš for president of the republic. In 1936, DCVP was again included in the Czechoslovak government. DCVP member of parliament Erwin Zajicek became Minister without portfolio.After the Anschluß of Austria, the rightwing tendencies inside DCVP were emboldened and took charge of the party. The DCVP members of parliament joined the Sudeten German Party (SdP). DCVP wasn't formally dissolved, but declared that the activities of the party were suspended. The German Christian trade unions that had been tied to DCVP also aligned with SdP.German National Socialist Workers' Party (Czechoslovakia)
The German National Socialist Workers' Party (German: Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, DNSAP, Czech: Německá národně socialistická strana dělnická) was a protofascist party of Germans in Czechoslovakia, successor of the German Workers' Party (DAP) from Austria-Hungary. It was founded in November 1919 in Duchcov. Most important party activists were Hans Knirsch, Hans Krebs, Adam Fahrner, Rudolf Jung and Josef Patzel. In May 1932 it had 1,024 local chapters with 61,000 members.Unlike the successive sister party in Austria, which only played a marginal role in Austrian politics, the Czechoslovak branch was able to attract a considerable number of votes because of the large Sudeten German minority in Czechoslovakia. In elections, it worked together with the Deutsche Nationalpartei (DNP). The party advocated cultural and territorial autonomy and anti-clericalism. It also showed anti-semitic tendencies. It organized fascist militia Volkssport. In October 1933 it was banned by the Czechoslovak government on the grounds of its anti-state activities. It was officially dissolved on 11 November 1933. DNSAP was succeeded by the Sudeten German Party.German Party (Slovakia)
The German Party (German: Deutsche Partei, abbreviated DP) was a National Socialist political party active amongst the German minority in Slovakia from 1938 to 1945.German Social Democratic Workers' Party in the Czechoslovak Republic
The German Social Democratic Workers' Party in the Czechoslovak Republic (DSAP, Deutsche sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik; Czech: Německá sociálně demokratická strana dělnická v Československé republice) was a German social democratic party in Czechoslovakia, founded when the Bohemian provincial organization of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria separated itself from the mother party. The founding convention was held in Teplice from 30 August – 3 September 1919; the first leader of the party was Josef Seliger.
In the First Czechoslovak Republic, DSAP was the most important German party, aiming to give the German population a place in the republic. At first the party's leadership was politically and socially radical; the Czechoslovak State was regarded as a "creation of Allied Imperialism" and the Czechoslovak Constitution as the "suicide of democracy". However, these politics changed shortly thereafter as the radical left-wing, led by Karl Kreibich, left the party for the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in October 1920. The number of members fell dramatically from 1921–1926, from 120,000 to 60,000.Some leading members of the party started talks with President Masaryk, who tried to persuade the party to join the government. It finally agreed in 1929, when its leader Ludwig Czech became Minister of Public Affairs.
During the years of the great economic crisis, the party lost many of its Sudeten German supporters, and the Sudeten German Party (SdP) gained importance. After the Munich Agreement, when the troops of Nazi Germany began occupying the Sudeten areas (on 1 October 1938), only some of the anti-Nazi opposition members could retreat into the remaining Czechoslovakian territories. Immediately after the entry of the Nazi troops, the persecution of Social Democrats and other opponents of Nazism began. From October to December 1938, 20,000 members of the Social Democratic Party were arrested; 2,500 Sudeten Germans were sent to the Dachau concentration camp alone. Around 30,000 people managed to flee to the West. On 22 February 1939 the DSAP leadership decided to cease all activities in the Czechoslovak Republic and continue working abroad as "Treuegemeinschaft sudetendeutscher Sozialdemokraten". The group began publishing the monthly bulletin Sudeten-Freiheit from Oslo.The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1938.Hans Knirsch
Hans Knirsch (September 14, 1877 – December 6, 1933) was an Austro-German activist from Moravia for Austrian National Socialism. After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he led the original party in Bohemia, called the Sudeten German National Socialist Party. Together with Rudolf Jung and Hans Krebs, he was one of the original core of National Socialists that remained in the Nazi Party after 1933.Heinz Rutha
Heinz Rutha (born Heinrich Rutha; 20 April 1897, Reichenberg (Liberec), Royal Bohemia, Imperial and Royal Austria – 4 November 1937, Böhmisch-Leipa (Czech: Česká Lípa) was a Sudeten German interior decorator and politician for the Sudeten German Party. He committed suicide in prison after having been publicly accused of homosexual practices and the "corruption of youth."Josef Steinhübl
Josef Steinhübl (1902–1984) was a German politician and Catholic priest.
Steinhübl was born on 26 March 1902 in Deutsch-Proben. He lost his father at the age of three. He studied at Roman Catholic secondary school in Prievidza 1912–1918, and went on the study theology 1920–1921 at the University of Brno faculty in Olomouc and 1921–1925 in Prague. He did his military service 1923–1924.Steinhübl was ordained in 1925. Until 1928 he served as pastor in Kremnické Bane (Hauerland), then in Sohler-Lipcse (Banská Bystrica) 1928–1932, in Münnichwies (Hauerland) 1932–1936 and from 1936–1940 in Handlová.He joined the Carpathian German Party (KdP) and served as head of the party (Landschaftsleiter) in Hauerland between 1934 and 1938. When KdP moved in a National Socialist direction under Franz Karmasin, Steinhübl stood out as the sole KdP leader that publicly criticized the introduction of the Führer principle (albeit in vague terms).Steinhübl and Karmasin were the two German Party deputies was elected to the Slovak Parliament (Landtag) on 18 December 1938 on the unity list of the Hlinka Slovak People's Party – Party of Slovak National Unity (HSĽS-SSNJ). He remained a member of the parliament of the Slovak Republic until 1945. On 1 October 1939 he was named inspector for German schools in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Banská Bystrica.As the Red Army approached Handlová he escaped to the Bohemian town of Aš, which was controlled by U.S. troops. He was handed over to Czechoslovak authorities and held as a prisoner of war in Bratislava 1945–1948. Steinhübl was sentenced to death in a Bratislava people's tribunal on 18 March 1946. In 1948 his sentence was changed to life imprisonment. He was detained at a labour camp in Ústie nad Oravou 1948–1949 and then jailed at Leopoldov until July 1955. Upon release from prison, he was expelled to West Germany.In West Germany he worked as pastor in Stuttgart between 1956 and 1969. In 1956 he founded an organization called Hilfsbund karpatendeutscher Katholiken ('Aid Committee for Carpathian German Catholics'), in competition with another association with the same name founded by pastor Jakob Bauer in 1948. Steinhübl died on 18 April 1984 in Stuttgart.Karl Hermann Frank
Karl Hermann Frank (24 January 1898 – 22 May 1946) was a prominent Sudeten German Nazi official in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia prior to and during World War II. Attaining the rank of Obergruppenführer, he was in command of the Nazi police apparatus in the Protectorate, including the Gestapo, the SD, and the Kripo. After the war, Frank was tried, convicted and executed for his role in organizing the massacres of the people of the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky.Konrad Henlein
Konrad Ernst Eduard Henlein (6 May 1898 – 10 May 1945) was a leading Sudeten German politician in Czechoslovakia. Upon the German occupation he joined the Nazi Party as well as the SS and was appointed Reichsstatthalter of the Sudetenland in 1939.May Crisis 1938
The May Crisis of 1938 was a brief episode of international tension caused by reports of German troop movements against Czechoslovakia that appeared to signal the imminent outbreak of war in Europe. Although the state of high anxiety soon subsided when no actual military concentrations were detected, the consequences of the crisis were, nevertheless, far-reaching.Robert Mayr-Harting
Robert von Mayr-Harting (September 13, 1874 in Aspern, now a part of Vienna – March 12, 1948 in Prague) was an Austrian-born Sudeten German politician.
The member of German Christian Social People's Party was one of few German-speaking politicians who participated in the Czechoslovak Government. He served as Minister of Justice from 12 October 1926 to 7 December 1929. He was a member of the Senate of Czechoslovakia from 1920 to 1925 and of the Chamber of Deputies of Czechoslovakia from 1925 to 1938. On 29 March 1938 he joined the People's Party with the Sudeten German Party. However, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia he made no political or public action to support the Nazi regime. After World war the Czechoslovak authorities allowed him to remain in Prague.Runciman Report (1938)
The Runciman Report was issued at the conclusion of Lord Runciman's Mission to Czechoslovakia in September 1938. The purpose of the Mission was to mediate in a dispute between the Government of Czechoslovakia and the Sudeten German Party (SdP), representing German separatists within Czechoslovakia (in the so-called "Sudetenland"), which was threatening to plunge Europe into war.
The report, published in the form of letters addressed to the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain and the Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš, on 21 September 1938, recommended the cession of the territory concerned to Nazi Germany, thus paving the way for the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938.
Evidence suggests that a section of the report was redrafted at a late stage, probably by Frank Ashton-Gwatkin, the Chief of Staff of the Mission and a permanent official in the British Foreign Office, in order to bring the recommendations fully into line with British policy.Sudetendeutsches Freikorps
Sudetendeutsches Freikorps (Sudeten German Free Corps, also known as the Freikorps Sudetenland, Freikorps Henlein and Sudetendeutsche Legion) was a paramilitary Nazi organization founded on 17 September 1938 in Germany on direct order of Adolf Hitler. The organization was composed mainly of ethnic German citizens of Czechoslovakia with pro-Nazi sympathies who were sheltered, trained and equipped by the German army and who were conducting cross border terrorist operations into Czechoslovak territory from 1938 to 1939. They played an important part in Hitler's successful effort to occupy Czechoslovakia and annex the region known as Sudetenland into the Third Reich under Nazi Germany.Sudetendeutsches Freikorps was a factual successor to Freiwillinger Schutzdienst, also known as Ordnersgruppe, an organization that had been established by the Sudeten German Party in Czechoslovakia unofficially in 1933 and officially on 17 May 1938, following the example of Sturmabteilung, the original paramilitary wing of the German Nazi Party. Officially being registered as promoter organization, the Freiwillinger Schutzdienst was dissolved on 16 September 1938 by the Czechoslovak authorities due to its implication in large number of criminal and terrorist activities. Many of its members as well as leadership, wanted for arrest by Czechoslovak authorities, had moved to Germany where they became the basis of Sudetendeutsches Freikorps, conducting Freikorps' first cross-border raids into Czechoslovakia only few hours after its official establishment. Due to the smooth transition between the two organizations, similar membership, Nazi Germany's sponsorship and application of the same tactic of cross-border raids, some authors often don't particularly distinguish between the actions of Ordners (i.e. up to 16 September 1938) and Freikorps (i.e. from 17 September 1938).
Relying on the Convention for the Definition of Aggression, Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš and the government-in-exile later regarded 17 September 1938, the day of establishment of the Sudetendeutsches Freikorps and beginning of its cross-border raids, as the beginning of the undeclared German-Czechoslovak war. This understanding has been assumed also by the contemporary Czech Constitutional court.Walter Becher
Walter Becher (1 October 1912 – 25 August 2005) was a German Bohemian politician, representative of the All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights (GB/BHE), All German Party (German: Gesamtdeutsche Partei) (GDP) and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria.
He was an associate of the pro-Nazi politician Konrad Henlein. Later, he became a writer for the Nazi newspaper "Die Zeit" published in Sudetenland.