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PostSudeten Germans and Other Displaced Nationalities of WWII (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 01/19/19 4:18 am)
Very good post from Paul Pitlick, 16 January, and very good comments from JE. However a few observations can be made.
As the great multi-ethnic empires failed in the early 20th century, the criminal victors created smaller multi-ethnic empires such as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland and in a certain way Italy too, as some territories inhabited by Italians were not given to Italy while some territories inhabited by Germans and Slavs were annexed to the Italian state.
The victors of WWII, being even more criminal, did not create small ethnic empires but embarked on a horrible ethnic cleansing with millions of displaced or killed Germans, Poles, Italians, and Hungarians, plus all those from the enlarged USSR, including from the tiny Italian minority in Crimea.
Probably it was a greater tragedy than the Holocaust itself, but it is taboo to talk about this.
It is noteworthy to remember the first criminal who wanted ethnic cleansing: Franz Josef of Austria, who on 12 November 1866 ordered energetic action against the Italians of Trentino-Alto Adige/Sud Tyrol, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia, pushing them out and proceeding with the Germanization or Slavization of these areas.
In Czechoslovakia the Czechs numbered about 7 million. They were democratic for themselves, but at the same time they were oppressors of the Germans, Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenians and Hungarians.
The 1938 Munich Accords brought the liberation of the Germans of the Sudetenland, the Poles of Teschen and the Hungarians of South Teschen. The last two groups are never remembered.
Then on 15 March 1939 the Slovaks proclaimed independence followed by the Ruthenians, who however were annexed to Hungary. At the same time the cowardly Czech President Emil Hacha asked for the protection of the Third Reich, becoming the chief of an autonomous Protectorate within the Third Reich. Therefore except for the last two episodes of Ruthenia and the Protectorate, everything went according the wishes of the concerned peoples, no matter what may be said now.
Regarding the refugees in their new areas, they always had difficult conditions. Let us not forget about the peoples in the newly enlarged USSR, who ended up in Kazakhstan or Siberia. As for the Italians, those who were expelled or escaped from Dalmatia, Fiume and Istria were not welcomed, and many ended up in former concentration camps. I just want to mention the "Shame Train" at Bologna station of 18 February 1947. A train full of refugees from Pola was directed to Ancona, but at the Bologna station the Communists organized a strike to stop it, threw stones at the refugees while the food and milk for the children prepared by the Red Cross was denied to them and thrown on the tracks.
In 2007, "only" 60 years later, a politically correct but nonetheless significant plaque was placed by the Municipality and the Association of Refugees.
JE comments: This week we've been discussing "received wisdom." Eugenio Battaglia rarely fails to challenge our assumptions and expectations for European history.
It's hard for me to conceive of liberation by Nazi Germany, instead of liberation from it. Did the Sudeten Germans think differently? I wonder how many of them regretted being absorbed by Germany, when they had previously lived in an ethnically divided but liberal democracy. By 1945, probably all of them did (regret it).
Eugenio, what motivated the Communists to attack a refugee train? Sheer hooliganism?