Okupace pohraničí a nucená imigrace v letech 1938-1939
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THE OCCUPATION OF THE BORDER REGIONS AND FORCED EMIGRATION BETWEEN 1938-1939
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This study draws attention to methodological problems conntected to the study of emigration of the Czech, German and Jewish population from the ceded Czech-Moravian-Silesian border regions of Bohemia and Moravia shortly before the outbreak of World War II. When studying this topic, it is not possible to reduce the population that migrated to a mere group of so-called refugees because a large number of migrants who were fleeing their homes, also comprised civil servants on active service. The study further evaluates the results of earlier historical research. It expands earlier knowledge by the inclusion of newly acquired facts from the archival materials of the Ministry of Interior kept in the National Archives in Prague. Their analysis made it possible to fill in the missing elements of contemporary knowledge on the structure and quantity of refugee streams in the territory of the Second Czechoslovak Republic. Archival documents show that the forced desertion of homes in the border regions affected more than 370 000 inhabitants of all nationalities, the majority of whom were Czech nationals. The movement of inhabitants was not a one-way process. In connection with an expected plebiscite, the holding of which was envisaged by the Munich Agreement, refugees were returning. The inhabitants of the border regions were urged not to move into the Republic. Thereby the Ministerial Council wanted to prevent the flight of citizens from disputed territories and potentially the loss of further territories. Reasons which the refugees stated in questionnaires they completed, were later used to map their motives for deserting their own homes. The analysis showed that economic reasons predominated with the Czechs, whereas the Germans were primarily fleeing for political reasons. Yet, the roots of the flight might have been concealed even in these reasons and the historical reality in this sense could have been multifaceted.
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