Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism / Edition 1

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Overview

In September 1938, the Munich Agreement delivered the Sudetenland to Germany. Six months later, Hitler's troops marched unopposed into Prague and established the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia—the first non-German territory to be occupied by Nazi Germany. Although Czechs outnumbered Germans thirty to one, Nazi leaders were determined to make the region entirely German.

Chad Bryant explores the origins and implementation of these plans as part of a wider history of Nazi rule and its consequences for the region. To make the Protectorate German, half the Czech population (and all Jews) would be expelled or killed, with the other half assimilated into a German national community with the correct racial and cultural composition. With the arrival of Reinhard Heydrich, Germanization measures accelerated. People faced mounting pressure from all sides. The Nazis required their subjects to act (and speak) German, while Czech patriots, and exiled leaders, pressed their countrymen to act as "good Czechs."

By destroying democratic institutions, harnessing the economy, redefining citizenship, murdering the Jews, and creating a climate of terror, the Nazi occupation set the stage for the postwar expulsion of Czechoslovakia's three million Germans and for the Communists' rise to power in 1948. The region, Bryant shows, became entirely Czech, but not before Nazi rulers and their postwar successors had changed forever what it meant to be Czech, or German.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs

Nazi Germany's bestial cartography divided Czechoslovakia into the incorporated territories, including the Sudetenland, a "neutral" Slovakia, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which were the core Czech lands. Bryant writes well about misery in the last -- about, in particular, the deadly essay of the Germans and their local marionettes to apply madcap ethnic and national concepts to what had long been a hopelessly complex checkerboard of identities. The drama ebbs and flows with events in the larger setting: the war's start, the fall of France in 1940, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the Battle of Stalingrad, and, by 1943, Hitler's crumbling prospects. But the brutality takes on special force in response to local circumstances, such as the massacre in response to the 1942 assassination of the German "protector" of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. Would that this were how the story ended: its sad sequel was the vengeful expulsion of Germans, some collaborators but many innocent, at the war's close, three million between 1946 and 1947, a microcosm of the 51 million Europeans driven from their homelands to complement the 60 million killed during the war.<

Australian Journal of Politics and History
The appearance of Chad Bryant's work on the Nazi occupation of the Czech lands, Bohemia and Moravia, from 1939 to 1945, is particularly welcome as it helps to fill a substantial gap in the scholarly literature. It has been well over thirty years since the last major treatments of the topic, and since then the fall of communist rule in Czechoslovakia has resulted in the availability of a wealth of archival sources. Bryant's contribution is thus a timely one...It will set a benchmark for subsequent studies of the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia.
— Andrew G. Boynell
Central European History
Chad Bryant's Prague in Black demonstrates that the Nazis' effort to distinguish between Czechs and Germans in the occupied east were plagued from the start--by tensions between different local administrators, who often upheld conflicting ideals of Gerrnanness; between Reich German and Sudeten German Nazis; and between different Nazi agencies and organizations. This book is thus an important investigation of the making of a racial state in a world in which, as diplomat George Kennan observed, "It became difficult to tell where the Czech left off and the German began." As the first English-language study of the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in thirty years,Prague in Black represents an important contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of Nazi rule in eastern Europe and to the history of nationalism more generally.
— Tara Zahra
Choice
Superbly researched...This fine study traces and analyzes the impact of the Nazi occupation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during WW II. Bryant examines the relationship between Czechs and Germans and shows how the ideals of the interwar period were destroyed. At the heart of the book is a study in nation building, first by the Nazis, whose policies and actions forced a reinterpretation of what it meant to be "German" or "Czech," then by the Czechs after the war.
— P. W. Knoll
Foreign Affairs
Nazi Germany's bestial cartography divided Czechoslovakia into the incorporated territories, including the Sudetenland, a "neutral" Slovakia, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which were the core Czech lands. Bryant writes well about misery in the last--about, in particular, the deadly essay of the Germans and their local marionettes to apply madcap ethnic and national concepts to what had long been a hopelessly complex checkerboard of identities.
— Robert Legvold
H-Net
Chad Bryant's study of the transformation of nationality in the Bohemian Protectorate fills an important gap in the historiography of modern Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and makes that history an essential part of the story of Europe's twentieth century. Bryant mines a variety of rich archival sources in the Czech Republic and Germany, mostly untapped during the Cold War, to tell the story of National Socialist Germany's occupation of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia...This book will prove essential reading for a variety of audiences...This book challenges historians to think across the boundaries of conventional disciplinary categories to reconsider what we mean by German and Czech history, how we tell national histories in general, and what the stories we tell gain and lose by the chronologies we employ. It is a challenge well worth taking up.
— Caitlin E. Murdock
Slavic Review
Chad Bryant's balanced and thoughtful treatment of the evolution of Czech nationalism and of official and popular understandings of Czech and German national identity between 1939 and 1945 is a worthy addition to the spate of new books on the stormy history of Czechoslovakia in the 1940s...Bryant's book is best at synthesizing the development of policies and laws and summarizing changing popular attitudes over the period 1939 through 1947 and well deserves a wide English-reading audience for that...Chad Bryant's book helps considerably by telling us so much of the story of Czech and German nationality politics in Bohemia and Moravia during the tragic era of the 1940s.
— Gary B. Cohen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674024519
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Chad Bryant is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Table of Contents

A Note on Place Names

List of Illustrations

Introduction

1. A Hopelessly Mixed People

2. The Reich Way of Thinking

3. Plans to Make the Czechs German

4. Heydrich Imposes Racial Order

5. Surrounded by War, Living in Peace

6. All the Germans Must Go

Conclusion

A Glossary of Czech- and German-Language Place Names

Abbreviations

Notes

Archival Sources and Document Collections

Acknowledgments

Index

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