THE BENES DECREE

DOCUMENTS ON THE EXPULSION
OF THE SUDETEN GERMANS

COMPILATION AND INTRODUCTION BY
DR. WILHELM K TURNWALD

FOREWORD TO THE ENGLISH VERSION BY F. A. VOIGT

TRANSLATED BY GERDA JOHANNNSEN

FOREWORD

The displacements or expulsions of entire populations or "ethnic groups" from their native soil will surely go down to history as characteristic of our era. It is the expulsions of the eastern, south eastern, and Sudeten Germans which, today, confront Europe with the acutest problem of this nature. The problem created by the expulsion of more than a million Greeks from Anatolia and Eastern Thrace in 1922 was a tragedy which has not been wholly overcome even to the present day. The problem of the "displaced persons" of central, eastern, and soutliern Europe, the flight of Arabs from Israel, and the vast twofold exodus of Hindoos and Moslems resulting from the partition of India, still confront us.

The number of persons affected far exceeds the number of those that made up the great "migrations of the peoples" following upon the breakup of the Roman Empire. The displacements and expulsions in our own day have been accompanied by barbaric deeds and methods that violate natural law, the teachings of Christianity, and the ethical standards of humanism. The foundations of international law and of those human rights, in which the last century took such pride, have been shaken by inhumanities whidi previous generations associated with the barbaric excesses of a distant past.

The first wave of expulsions began during and after the First World War, the second accompanied and followed the second World War. It is noteworthy that these expulsions were not all of a unilateral nature. Some of them were ordered or sanctioned at conferences held by the Great Powers at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, for example.

That this should be so would seem to indicate a deep-seated moral defection of an ominous character. The dissolution of Austria-Hungary did not, in the end, confer upon the original component States the independence they had hoped for. It was followed by an explosive nationalism which operated to the grave detriment of these States by overriding those realities which are determinedby geography, numerical strength, and industrial productivity.

Excessive nationalism, at times concealed beneath doctrines of an ostensible religious or racial character, was amongst the principal forces that engendered the displacements and expulsions. The creation of a truly
organic order in eastern and central Europe was largely thwarted because the right of self-determination was applied in a one-sided manner, to the almostexclusive advantage of the victorious Powers. No "new Switzerland" was established in central Europe, but a region of crises and tensions.

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The bad conscience of the instigators of the crimes committed against the Sudeten Germane can be seen from (he fact that they covered themselves and their accomplices by means of a so called act of oblivion, opposing both to morales and to the principles of right and justice (Law of May 8th, 1946, colleclion of laws and regulations 1946/51). This "law" is in fact nothing but a glorifcation of genocide.

Appendix VIIa

Law of May 8th, 1946

The provisional National Assembly of the Czechoslovak Republic passed the following law:

Article 1

Any act committed between September 30th, 1938, and October 28th, 1945, the object of which was to aid the struggle for liberty of the Czechs and Slovaks or which represented just reprisals for actions of the occupation forces and their accoMplices, is not illegal, even when such actions may otherwise be punishable by law.

Article 2

1. Persons already sentenced by reason of such punishable actions are to be retried according to law.

2. The court in which the first trial took place is competent or, in the case that the court concerned no longer exists, that court which should be now competent in the fitst instance, had the illegality of the action not been cancelled under Art. I of this law.

3. If the action referred to in Art. I should coincide with another action, punishable at law, in respect of which the accused has already been sentenced by means of the same judicial decision, then the court will pass a new Judgement, whereby the verdict passed will be taken into consideration.

Article 3

This law will come into force on the day of its official announcement, those commissioned with the execution of the law are the Minister of Justice and the Minister for National Defence.

signed Dr. Benes
signed Fieriinger
signed Dr. Drtina
signed Gen. Svoboda

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Appendix-- IX

Edict of the President of the Republic, dated May 19, 1945 Concerning the invalidity of Transactions Involving Property Rights from the Time of the Oppression and Concerning the National Administration of Property Assets of Germans, Magyars, Traitors and Collaborationists and of Certain Organizations and Associations

Upon proposition of the Government I decree:

Article 1

1. All transfers and transactions involving property rights regardless of whether they involvemovable or immovable, public or private property are invalid provided that they have been made under the pressure of
the occupation or under the national, racial, or politic persecution after October 29, 1938.

2. The manner in which claims arising by virtue of the provision of Subsection 1 shall be raised will be prescribed in a particular edict of the President of the Republic provided that It has not been prescribed
in this edict.

Article 2

1. The property of persons upon whom the country cannot place reliance, being within the territory of the Czech Republic, will be placed under national administration in accordance with the further provisions of this
edict.

2. Property transferred by such persons after October 29, 1938, shall also be deemed to be property of persons upon whom the country cannot rely unless the person acquiring such property had no knowledge
of the fact that property of such nature was involved.

Article 3

All enterprises and all property assets shall be taken under national administration wherever this is required in the interest of continuous production and economic life. This applies especially to production plants and other enteiprises which have been deserted and to property assets relinquished or to such facilities or such property assets which are in the possession of, or administrated by, or leased to persons upon whom the country cannot rely.

Article 4

As persons the country cannot rely on shall be considered:

a. Persons of German or Magyar nationality,
b. Persons, whose activities have been directed against the governmental authority, independence, integrity, democratic-republican system, security and strength of the Czechoslovak Republic, who Instigated such activities or tended to induce other persons to take such actions, and intentionally supported the German
and Magyar occupiers in any manner whatsoever. As such supporters shall be considered for example; The members of Vlajka Rodobrana, the Advance Batalllons of the Hlinka-Guard, the leading officers of the
Association for Cooperation with the Germans, of the Czech League against Bolshevism, of the Curatory for Education of the Czech Youth, of the Slovak-Catholic Hlinka party, of the Hlinka-Guard, of the Hlinka
Youth, of the national Central Association of Employees, of the Association for Agriculture and Forestry, of the German-Slovak Association, and of other fascist organizations of similar nature.

Article 5

Those juristic persons shall be deemed as persons upon the country cannot rely, whose administration has served intentionally and knowingly the Germans or Magyars in carrying on the war or has served fascist or Nazi purposes.

Article 6

As persons of German and Magyar nationality shall be considered those who on the occasion of any census since 1929 acknowledged their German or Magyar nationality or who became members of national groups or organizations or political parties In which persons of German
or Magyar nationality were united.

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Appendix X

Edict of the President of the Republic dated June 21, 1945

Concerning the Confiscation and early Re-allotment of agricultural Property of Germans,Magyars, as well as of Traitors and Enemies of the Czech and Slovak People.

Compilation of Statutes and Enactment's No. 12

Following the demand of the Czech and Slovak people without land for an effective implementing of the land reform and led by the desire once for all to take Czech and Slovak soil out of the hands of the foreign German and Magyar landowners as well as out of the hands of the traitors to the Republic and to give it into the hands of the Czech and Slovak farmers and persons without land I decree upon proposition of the government as follows:

Article I

1. With immediate effect and without compensation and for the purpose of the land reform such rural property shall be confiscated as is owned by a) all persons of German or Magyar nationality, without regard to their
citizenship, b) traitors and enemies of the Republic without regard to their nationality and citizenship especially those who demonstrated their hostility during the crisis and during the war in the years 1938 to 1945, c) corporations, partnerships and other associations the management of which knowingly and intentionally supported the Germans in carrying on the war or which served fascist or Nazi aims.

2. The agricultural property of persons of German or Magyar nationality who participate in the combat for the protection of the integrity and for the liberation of the Czech Slovak Republic shall not be confiscated under the provisions of subs. 1.

3. The District National Committee is competent to decide upon application of the competent farmers committees whether an exception according to subs. 3 shall be made. Doubtful cases shall be submitted by the District National committee to the Provincial National Committee which shall forward them with an opinion to the Ministry for Agriculture for final decision. The latter shall decide by agreement with the Ministry of the Interior.

Article 2

1. Those persons shall be considered as of German and Magyar nationality who on the occasion of any census since 1929 acknowledged their German or Magyar nationality or who became members of national groups, organizations or political parties in which persons of German or Magyar nationality were united.

2. Exemptions from the provisions of subs. I will be laid down in a
special Edict.

Article 3

1. Those persons shall be considered as traitors and enemies of the Czech-Slovak: Republic

a) whose activities were jointly or separately directed against the sovereignty, the independence, the integrity, the democratic-republican system, the security and the defensive power of the Czech-Slovak Republic, who instigated such activities or seduced other persons thereto, and, in any manner, intentionally and actively supported the Germans and Magyar occupiers.

b) Such juristic persons whose activities intentionally and actively served the Germans carrying on the war or served fascist or Nazi purposes.

2. The authorities competent to decide whether or not a natural or juristic person is subject to the provisions of subs. I a) b) are: the Provincial National Committee in the area which the rural estate concerned is
located, upon application of the competent District National Committee. Doubtful cases shall be submitted by the Land National Committee to the Ministry for Agriculture for final decision. The latter shall decide by agreement with the Ministry of the Interior.

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Appendix XII

Constitutional Edict of the President of the Republic of August 2, 1945, Compilation of Statutes and Enactment's No. 33/1945, concerning the right to Czechoslovak citizenship of persons of German and Magyar nationality.

With regard to the proposal of the Government and in accordance with the Agreement with the Slovak National Council, I decree:

Article I

1. Czechoslovak citizens of German or Magyar nationality who acquired German or Magyar Citizenship under the regulations of the foreign occupational forces shall have lost their Czechoslovak Citizenship by so doing..

2. The other Czechoslovak citizens of German or Magyar nationality shall lose their Czechoslovak citizenship on the day this edict comes into force.

3. This edict does not apply to Germans or Magyars who, during tho period of increased threat to the Republic (Article 18 of the Edict of the President of the Republic, dated June 19, 1952 concerning the punishment of National Socialist Criminals, Traitors and their Accomplices and concerning the Special People's Courts) registered as Czechs or Slovaks during the official census.

4. Czechs, Slovaks and persons of other Slav nationalities who during that time professed thcroselves Germans or Magyars under pressure or under extenuating circumstances shall not be adjudged Germans or Magyars insofar as the Ministry of the Interior, after a thorough examination of the particulars quoted approves the attestation of national reliabilty as issued by the appropriate District National Committee.

Article 2

1. Persons to whom the provisions of Article I are applicable, and who prove that they remained loyal to the Czechoslovak Republic, that they never committed any offence against the Czech and Slovak people, and that they either participated actively in the fight for liberation or suffered under the National Socialist or fascist terror, shall retain Czechoslovak citizenship.

2. The application for a certificate stating that Czech citizenship my be retained can be submitted to the appropriate District National Committee within 6 months of the day this Edict comes into force and, if the applicant resides abroad, can be submitted to the appropriate consular authorities. The result of the application shall be decided by the Ministry of the Interior after considering the recommendation of the Provincial National Committee and, in Slovakia, the proposal of the National Council. The persons in question shall be considered as Czechoslovak citizens until a final decision is made, provided that the District
National Committee or the authorities representing it Issue a certificate stating the circumstances mentioned above.

3. The retention of Czechoslovak citizenship in the case of Czechoslovak military persons of German or Magyar nationality shall be decided on ex officio in the shortest possible time by the Ministry of the Interior after considering the recommendation of the Ministry of National Defence. Until the official decision
is made they shall be considered as Czechoslovak Citizens.

Article 3

Persons, who have lost their Czechoslovak citizenship under Article I may apply to the appropriate District National Committee or the authorities representing it for restitution within 6 months of the date which will be appointed in the promulgation of the Ministry of the Interior and published in the Compilation of Statutes and Enactmcnts.

The Ministry of the Interior after considering the recommendation of the Provincial National Committee in Slovakia, after considering the recommendation of the Slovak National Council shall decide the result of such an application after an objective consideration of the case, it shall not approve an application, however, if the applicant has violated his duties as a Czecho-Slovak citizen. Provided that no Government Decrees stipulate otherwise, the general regulations concerning the acquisition of Czechoslovak citizenship shall apply also to these cases.

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Appendix XIII

Edict of the President of the Republic, dated October 25, 1945, Concerning the Confiscation of Enemy property and the Funds of National Regeneration (Compilation of Statutes and Enactment's No. 108)

With regard to the proposal of the Government and in accordance with the Agreement with the Slovak National Council, I decree:

Part I

Confiscation ol Enemy Property

Article I

Extent of the Property Confisciated

1. Any immovable and movable property shall be confiscated without any compensation to the benefit of the Czechoslovak Republic, and to the extent that this has not been effectuated until now, in particular properly rights (as claims, securities. immaterial rights) hich on the day of the factual termination of the German and Hungarian occupation was owned or which is still owned:

(1) by the German Reich, the Kingdom of Hungaria, by juristic persons incorporated under the public laws of Germany or Hungaria, by the German National Sozialist Party, by the Magyar political parties and other groups, organizations, enterprises, institutions, associations, funds and property of these regimes or connected therewith as well as of other German or Magyar juristic persons, or
(2) by natural persons of German or Magyar nationality with the exception of persons
who prove that they adhered faithfully to the Czecho-Slovak Republic, that they
never committed any offense against the Czech and Slovak people and that they either
participated actively in the combat for their liberation, or suffered under the National
Socialist or fascist terror, or
(3) by natural persons, who have displayed activities directed against the sovereignty,
the independence, the integrity, the democratic-republican system, the security and
defense of the Czechoslovak Republic, who have instigated such activities or have
solicited other persons to carry on such activities, who, by any manner, have intentionally supported the German or Magyar occupants or during the period of the Increased threat to the Republic (Article 18 of the Edict of the President of the Republic, dated June 19, 1952, Compilation of Statutes and Ordinances No. 18, Concerning the Punishment of National Socialist Criminals, Traitors and Their Accomplices and the Special People's Courts) have favored the Germanization or Magyarization within the territory of the Czecho-Slovak Republic or who have taken a hostile position against the Czecho-Slovak Republic or against the Czech or Slovak people, as well as by persons who have tolerated such activities by persons who have administered their property or enterprises.

2. The provisions of Subsection I, No. 3 apply also to juristic persons to the extent that natural persons who are members thereof or share in the property or in the enterprise (shareholders) are responsible for the steps taken by the board representing the iuristic person or that these persons have failed to use the appropriate diligence in the selection and supervision of the board.

3. Likewise subject to confiscation is any property which during the period subsequent to September 29, 1938, has been owned by persons mentioned in subsections I and 2 and which during the time set forth In subsection I, sentence 1, has been owned or is still owned by persons in the possession of which it would not be subject to confiscation unless the inclusion of such property in the confiscation would not comply with the
principles of equity.

4. The competent District National Committee shall determine whether or not the prerequi sites of be confiscation under this edict exist. The decision can be served by publication, even if the prerequisites of Article 33 of the Governmental Ordinance, dated Januar 13, 1928. Comp. No 8, Concerning the Procedure in Matters Which Do Not Fall Within the Competence of Political Authorities (administrative procedure) are not complied with. An appeal can be filed from the decision of the District National Committee with the Provincial Committee, in Slovakia, with the competent authority of the Slovak National Council. The Provincial National committee (in Slovakia the competent authority of the Slovak National Council) may even in the course of the proceedings assume the carrying out of the procedure and decide the matter as the first instance.