A crisis of democracy : Czechoslovakia and the rise of Sudeten German nationalism, 1918-1938 / Michael Walsh Campbell.
My project starts from the observation that before the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Germans in the Czech lands had never thought of themselves as “Sudeten Germans,” yet, by 1938, many of them would be willing to risk their homeland on behalf of this identity. This study investigates Sudeten German nationalism as a test case for reinterpreting the nationalization of ethnic minorities and the dynamic of irredenta conflicts. By focusing on the primary sculptors of this new national identity, my dissertation reveals how Bohemian Germans in inter-war Czechoslovakia came to think of themselves as “Sudeten Germans.” My work retraces the evolution of Sudeten German nationalism: from its inception within the Bohemian Youth Movement in 1919; to its incubation within the German Turnverband (Gymnastics Society) in the 1920s; and ultimately to its mobilization and assimilation within the Sudeten German Party (SdP) in the 1930s. In each of these phases and organizations, an elite group of young nationalists, known as the Kameradschaftsbund (KB) played a critical role in sculpting this new nationalism and shaping the coming conflict between Nazi Germany and Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938.Although the fate of Czechoslovakia was ultimately decided by the Great Powers, a longer term perspective on the Munich crisis reveals that Czechs and Sudeten Germans still played pivotal roles in determining their own fates in the course of the First Republic. This study argues that Sudeten German nationalism first arose as a reflexive response to the reversal of the nationality competition in 1918 and the state-building project of the Czechoslovak government in the 1920s, In the 1930s, the SdP leadership and the Czechoslovak government became locked in a cycle of provocation and repression, which rapidly mobilized the German minority and ultimately assimilated Sudeten German nationalism into a regional form of Reich German National Socialism. Therefore, this test case concludes that Sudeten German nationalism represented a dynamic new program of nationhood, which rapidly crystallized in response to the developments of the Czech/German nationality competition in the First Republic.
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