Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in Czechoslovak Silesia during the First Republic (1918–1938)
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The study discusses the manifestations of anti-Semitism on the territory of Czech Silesia during the period of the so-called First Republic (1918–1938). It charts its evolution and outlines the motives that led to the development of anti-Semitic moods. In spite of pre-dominantly minor incidents and anti-Semitic manifestations resulting most frequently from the worsened economic situation of the non-Jewish population or from national problems omnipresent in multinational Czechoslovak Silesia, local Jews were respected by the majority society during a considerable part of the interwar period. The majority society was aware of their importance. But in the second half of the 1930s, life conditions started worsening for local Jews. Proportional to the escalating demands of Nazi Germany on cession of the Czech frontier area, anti-Semitism provoked by Nazi propaganda grew stronger. In Opavian Silesia in particular, where the German population prevailed, anti-Semitic disturbances by Nazi sympathizers grew in number. The Jews in the Těšín and Ostrava Regions could not feel completely safe at that time either. Czech and Polish radicals were not immune to accusing Jews of embracing German national consciousness, even though they were being persecuted by the Nazis. The hatred against Jews was intensified also by the influx of Jewish refugees from the Reich and later from Austria, in search of rescue from Nazi persecution. After the Munich Agreement was signed in late September 1938, there was a final turn and any remaining calmness disappeared for all Czechoslovak Jews.
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