Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

The “EU president” meme’s still running…

As such, a letter just sent to Private Eye (aimed at that publication’s always entertaining Pedantry Corner):

In Eye 1254, Brussels Sprouts begins with “The new EU Spanish presidency (not to be confused with the EU’s first actual president, Herman Van Rompuy)”. Dull grey Herman is not “actually” the EU’s first president, for such a position does not exist. He is instead the first permanent president of the European Council – assuming you can call a two-and-a-half year posting with a two term limit permanent – a pretty much powerless post whose duties primarily lie in chairing the (roughly) quarterly EU summits between the heads of government of the EU member states.

The President of the European Council is not the only post in the EU to be styled “president” (heard of José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission? Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament? the rotating six-monthly national presidencies that the Brussels Sprouts piece was actually about?). Indeed it’s arguably the least powerful of the four EU presidencies, as he doesn’t get to initiate legislation (like the Commission president), nor vote upon it (like the EP president), nor does he technically have any power to outline policy plans (like the rotating national presidencies).

Hell, Van Rompuy isn’t even the first President of the European Council – the position used to be filled by the head of government of the member state which held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers, the Consilium, or just the Council – related to but separate from the European Council, and not, of course, to be confused with the Council of Europe), and so the first President of the European Council was another Belgian, Achille Van Acker, from January to June 1958.

I know that the EU’s mind-numbingly boring and complicated (see above), and that “EU president” has become a convenient shorthand in the British press ever since the kerfuffle over Tony Blair possibly getting the post, but it is not “actually” accurate to refer to Van Rompuy in that way.

(Cue even more pedantic people than me to point out that the first European Council meeting took place in 1961, making its first president *yet another* Belgian, Gaston Eyskens. But that’s always the way of these things…)

42 Comments

  1. Was going to write about exactly the same thing today, after hearing Denis McShane refer to Barroso as “President of the EU”…!

  2. If you had an eye for detail rather than being a mere pedant with a rather defensive pro-technocratic outlook(I’m teasing), you would have observed that the significance of the Lisbon Treaty is less the President then the transformation of the European Council into an EU institution for the first time. The consequences of this have never really been widely discussed. One thing is for sure: EU Councils decisions will become more binding on governments notwithstanding any elections that have taken place in the meantime. The significance of the President of Council lies in the growing importance of this forum as the EU’s highest plenary body and the accelerating transformation of politics (and the democratic struggle associated with it) in technical considerations carried out by experts.

  3. Bruno – this whole worry in certain circles about the idea of the EU Council decisions being binding on governments is something else that confuses me. The European Council *is* the governments. You might as well say “government decisions will be binding on governments”, surely? Think of European Council meetings as summits, their decisions as mini-treaties, and there’s nothing scary there at all.

  4. If this “president” has no power to do any of the things u mentioned above, then what was the point? Why did the EU clog its eurocracy up even more with a fourth president? Who’ll recognize him and make his distinction with the other ones, even as he has less power than the other ones?!!

  5. Are names really that important? He is by large a chairman of the European Council and for that post a permanent figure is a good thing. It would have been better of course, if they had got rid of the rotating presidency thing altogether and the Council of Ministers would have got a single chairman as well.

    Anyway, I was never enthusiastic about that part of the Lisbon treaty anyway. I consider the parts about the European Parliament most important, even more than before. Also the not so much debated enlargement of the scope of the European Court of Justice might be a major change. So the EP and the ECJ might be the real substantial winners, plus a potential for a change in foreign policy issues (but only a potential not more)

  6. The European Court of Justice? I didn’t think they were substantial winners personally. How is the ECJ a winner, when its rules apply on a selective basis? For example, the Czechs have a veto on the court righting any wrongs they committed to the Germans. Doesn’t sound to me like something that goes hand in hand with the title “Court of Justice”. Maybe if it was called “European Court of Justice, under circumstances that certain members are MORE equal and have gotten certain appeasements”. Sure, then I’d agree, ECJ,UCTCMAMEHGCA are substantial winners(and so are the Czechs!).

  7. The ECJ is a substantial winner, if I got it right, as the pillar structure is history. That means the former second and third pillar are to be handled in regards to the court as the former first one from now on. Moreover more people can call the ECJ now, as affected individuals can do so now directly.

    You may forgive me if I err, but thats the impression I got. If it is wrong, I am happy if someone could correct me.

    On the other side the exceptions included in the Lisbon treaty are relatively minor or affect only very few member states. The Czechs don’t have a veto as far as I know. They will have the same exemption in regards to the ECHR that the UK and Poland got, which is pretty useless, as there can be only one EU law for all and in nearly all member states there are no exemptions. The ECHR is only about EU legislation not national one (which is not directly derived from EU legislation). For the national legislation the ECHR has been implemented into member states law system long ago.

  8. I didn’t mean “veto” in so many words. They(the czechs) are exempt from people taking them to court and demanding compensation for their property which was forcefully seized when they were forcefully banished from their homeland. If you recall this is what Vaclav Klaus’ concessions that he was waiting to get before signing the Lisbon Treaty. This is what i mean is not justice. And the irish get exemptions when it comes to abortion and taxes. So 1 exemption here, 1 there, 2 more spring up next treaty, and where is the unity? Everyone is their own special case(which they are!), with their own special rules and exemptions. They are minor exemptions but even 1 exemption is a slap in the face to the stated goal of the EU(the words union and equality seem to ring bells) and their institutions. Personally, I’m disgusted that people can’t seek reparations for their seized property, just because…If any other citizens of EUROPE(EU) can, then so should czech germans. Justice is the same no matter who its applied to. But clearly, what differs is the politics of justice.

  9. The exemption does not even exist yet, it is only promised and needs to be ratified by among others the Czech Parliament. Actually its a controversial thing in the Czech Republic and its not sure the Parliament would agree to it. But even if it does, it only affects EU legislation, not national one (except the one directly implementing EU legislation). So what they get an exemption from is that EU legislation is not bound to the ECHR in the Czech Republic. This affects in no way whatsoever Czech laws, so it does not effect the Benes Decrees etc. The Czechs do not gain any rights nor any protection from foreign legal actions, they just voluntarily turned down some rights they had been granted otherwise against abusive EU legislation.

    However: The ECHR is in power already on national level, without exception and the European Court for Human Rights is ruling on it, also for cases in the Czech Republic.

    So in short, this whole argument is just a myth. Created by Czech nationalists and gladly copied and used up side down by non Czech nationalists. That does not change the fact that its just a hoax.

    You exaggerated the exceptions btw. Most of them affect only the UK. Some singular exemptions effect Ireland (I am having Schengen in mind, as what you mentioned are no real exemptions for Ireland. Taxes are no EU competence nor deciding about laws on abortion), Sweden and Denmark and Poland. The exemptions for Romania and Bulgaria are due to their recent accession and will phase out soon. (The non Euro members I have not mentioned by now are obliged to adopt it as soon as they meet the criteria). So the vast majority of member states and even more so when you look at the number of EU citizens are not effected by exemptions.

    PS: There are hardly any Czech Germans anymore and soon even they will be gone.

  10. For the czech thing, if its as you say, then fine. Actually thank you for clarifying it for me, and I hope it really happens as you say, because you’ll agree to the injustice that happens if its as I stated. I got my information on articles that I’ve read, so it’s not as if I personally have a stake in the issue(I’m neither czech nor german); i just take an issue against the “illusion of justice” that usually prevails, but has no substance.
    And as opposed to your post scriptum, I find it pretty harsh. If there are few left, it’s not for any natural reason, but due to massive expulsion(which is obviously never a good thing). So it seems to me that pretty much what you’re saying is: let’s wait for them to die out, and then the problem/issue will die out with them, and we wont have to solve it anymore. I don’t know, I may have some misplaced notions of justice, but that doesn’t seem right to me. Maybe they shouldn’t all be gone, maybe they should be allowed to go back to their own lands, and their grandfathers’ properties, etc. I’ve heard(read rather) germans originally from poland are already doing this; not because theyre being handed back their lands, but a lot of them are purchasing properties where their ancestors were from, and calling it their ‘return home’. I probably take issue with this more so than you, or that you’d expect someone else to because I have the same issue with my home country where thousands of my natives(let’s not get into that) were expelled from a neighbouring state where they were autochtonous; so you’ll have to pardon me for making a big deal out of this. I realize most present day europeans don’t care, but to move forward the wounds of the past have to be healed, not swept under the rug, because they’ll resurface later on and cause more damage.

    Finally, as for the case of the Irish, then I’m confused. What you say seems right, that abortion and tax laws should not be areas where the laws are made at the EU level. But then I wonder why in the news abortion and taxes were mentioned as concessions that were made to the Irish so they could have another vote on the Lisbon Treaty. And i’m not talking one media or 1 article, this was everywhere where you read about the irish issue with the Lisbon Treaty. So I wonder; maybe the long term plan is that some day the EU WILL make laws to standardize the stand on abortion union-wide, and the Irish got a pass now, way before. I don’t know to be honest with you, maybe you can clarify that. Also, did they not get a concession to have a commissioner represent them(which you’d think each member would have from the get-go), as opposed to not having one at all?

  11. mirakulous – you want to know why abortion and tax (not to menntion neutrality) were brought up in the Irish Lisbon campaigns? Precisely *because* few ordinary members of the public are so uncertain of what it is the EU does. It was devious political nonsense promoted by anti-Lisbon campaigners who knew that it could gain traction.

    Because what the EU actually does is for the most part insanely boring bureaucratic regulation – producing agreed sets of product standards, checking agricultural production and the like. Practically nothing that the EU *actually* does is worth getting worried or excited about.

    But no one ever believes this. They always assume that the EU is *massive* (when the Commission has a staff of only c.30,000, including translators, about the same as a mid-sized UK government department), and so are always inclined to believe any claims that the EU is planning to regulate x, y and z.

    Specifically on the Irish abortion issues, this cropped up largely because some (no doubt well-meaning) anti-Lisbon campaigner got confused between the EU and the European Court of Human Rights. I still have no idea where the tax and neutrality issues came from.

    On the Czech front, yet again all the “concessions” were mostly just public re-assertions that the issues causing a political fuss were not actually covered by Lisbon anyway. The issue of Sudeten (and Polish) Germans is, however, somewhat more complex than you seem to think. The difficulty lies in distinguishing between families with a long historic claim to various properties in both countries (going back several centuries) who were booted out during the post-WWII anti-German backlash, and those who settled there due to German imperial/military expansionism during the 19th and 20th centuries. And in any case, in pretty much all cases the original owners are now dead, and to kick out the present occupants of those properties (who would mostly have had nothing to do with the post-war evictions) would be unjust in itself. I’m unconvinced that any court could sort out the mess, even if they wanted to.

  12. Thank you for the reply.
    As for the Sudetens, I realize the original owners are all dead; i was never speaking about them. Their children and newphews are still around, and reparations could easily go to them, just as they go to the children and nephews of holocaust survivors as well. I’m quite sure the Prussian Trust wasn’t founded by the actual prussians who got kicked out of poland, but by their children and nephews!

  13. But what about the original Bohemians/Moravians/Czechs? Yes, there have been ethnic Germans in the region for several centuries, but – as is often the nature of multi-ethnic border areas – their precise status has often been unclear. The region’s status as German/Czech has been disputed since at least the 17th century.

    The trouble is that the usual accepted way of settling these disputes now is by self-determination – and that includes in cases where an area has become ethnically/culturally homogenous due to ethnic cleansing.

    Precisely because the Sudeten question is so complicated, most European countries would prefer for it not to come up in a court of law, lest it set a dangerous precedent. How do you decide between a legally strong historic claim on a property and depriving a family of their home?

    Generally speaking (though I don’t think there’s an equivalent of an international statute of limitations on this), if something happened more than 50-60 years ago, reparations are now unlikely – because a) most people involved will be dead, and b) if you stretch it back that far, where do you stop? Could other Germans booted out of Poland in ’45 claim reparations, even though they settled after the Nazi invasion? Could Germans from even further back make claims to Polish lands thanks to the Treaty of Versailles? Could Poles forced out by the Germans in ’39 or the Russians towards the end of the war? Could Lithuania make a claim for sizeable chunks of eastern and central Europe due to its historic hold on the region? Could Scots displaced by Enclosures claim back the Highlands? Could England claim back Normandy and Anjou? Could Spain reclaim the Netherlands? Could descendants of Russian aristocrats claim back the steppes – or would there be a counter-claim by descendants of the Mongols or the Huns? And what would happen in the Balkans?

    As I say – dangerous precedents. Which is precisely why I reckon it was always highly unlikely that such claims would ever have made it to court, even before the “concession” to the Czech Republic. It’s not in Europe’s interest to open up old wounds.

  14. I think its fair to say that you’re going way back with the huns, being as they hardly exist as huns anymore. Same with spain claiming the netherlands, because the dutch arent ethnic spaniards, so no reason why spain should have a claim over them. Clearly we’re discussing nationality issues, which surfaced much after the huns you’re speaking of.
    I think reason could be used on this. Germans that settled due to nazi population policy obviously have no claim on land they were settled in because they werent autochtonous; that should be the keyword to this, or ethnic of that region. So I was speaking only about the 3-4 million(if memory serves) ethnic native germans, of the sudeten who were expelled. True, precedent would be dangerous, but also the precedent of expulsion that some EU members have used in the past(czechs, poles, greeks, that i know of) can’t be that good! Old wounds have to be healed, not swept under the rug because they cause a headache. That hardly seems just. If there is a will by people to reclaim what they lost(like the Prussian Trust for e.g. tries to do) even 50-60 years ago, then there should be no reason why their case shouldn’t be heard and repaired to whatever extent possible. But giving a concession that protects a certain country from court cases about their previous crimes(expulsion i believe is a crime, in this case a hate crime too because it was based on ethnicity) closes the door on any kind of healing or repair.

  15. “the dutch arent ethnic spaniards” – but neither are the current inhabitants of the Sudetenland ethnic Germans. Spain used to own (parts of) the Netherlands, ethnic Germans used to own (parts of) the Sudetenland. Possession is nine tenths of the law, and all that – especially when the original legal owner is dead.

    “Old wounds have to be healed, not swept under the rug” – I agree entirely. But by allowing court cases for reparations for properties seized by (understandably) angry, newly freed from Nazi tyranny peoples, all that’s going to happen is that the old wounds will be getting thoroughly poked with a legal stick. If any ethnic Germans return to the Sudetenland, no matter how good their legal claims, they will be resented by those who have settled there in the interim. If any of them are granted financial compensation from the Czech state, there will likewise be resentment – and, no doubt, counter-claims by the Czech state for damage caused by the German/Russian occupations. All of the worst experiences of the last century will be brought up again, and examined in minute legal detail.

    But again, the Czech Republic hasn’t been given a concession of the kind you seem to believe – as far as I understand it, it has just had confirmed that the Lisbon Treaty could not, in itself, enable such cases to be brought.

  16. True, but the dutch arent ethnic spaniards not because the spaniards were expelled from the netherlands, but because they never existed there.The sudeten germans were expelled from their homeland of sudeten; so i think the parallel you’re drawing is unfounded.
    A big part of property law is also inheritance. Like I said, children and nephews have gotten reparations of inheritances in the past, this case would not be a precedent setting case. Just because the actual expellees are dead, doesn’t mean their descendents should not be tried to be righted of the wrongs wrought upon them.
    Nephews of germans who lived 70 years ago(in fact all germans) paid and pay reparations to the newphews of holocaust survivors (through their taxes). Neither party took place in the holocaust. One side are descendents of the wrongdoers, or even just regular germans who werent involved in government, and the other side are nephews of the people to whom wrong was done. And each side inherits what happened then. Why should there be anger if czechs today pay reparations for what their ancestors did; and pay it to the descendents of those to whom wrong was done? Its the exact same case, with the gravity of the situation being the only differing factor. Consistency, consistency, thats all I ask for in how politicians today treat touchy subjects like this. You can’t attempt to right one wrong, but not another, for whatever political reasons behind the scenes.
    Going the other way I think pretty much everyone wronged by the germans during WWII got a piece of reparation; I mean everyone took a piece from the Germans, what else could they counter claim for? The fact that the Sudeten is currently in the Czech Republic, and that its ethnic cleansing was allowed is enough reparation for Nazi damages to the Czechs(in fact, its too much reparation, which is why we’re even debating this).

    That’s fine, just confirmation of Lisbon not being able to enable such cases, but every other kind of case. The point still stands that justice is being treated case by case, and obviously not all cases “are built the same”.

  17. P.S. I get the impression that I’m the only one here who wrongly thinks that ethnic cleansing is not cool. Forget legal, is there no moral substance to what i’m arguing for? Should the precedent set by Greece, Poland and the Czech republic not be taken responsibility for and something done to resolve this? If not, I see no reason why Austria should not expel its Slovenians, Bulgaria its Turks, etc etc!

  18. Just to make it clear. I am from Austria, one of my former teachers was born in Brünn and sent as child on the Brünner death march. I was impressed when I heard his story, even though sadly enough it was at his funeral. He had no bad feelings towards the Czech and looked into the future rather the past.

    My own opinion is that the expulsion, that ethnic cleansing was a massive crime a crime that can’t be legitimized by crimes committed by the Nazis first (I do not believe in weighing up crimes against each other, two wrongs don’t make a right). However: Let it rest. No one is served by unleashing the nationalist reflexes once more. Both sides should stand up for the crimes their fathers or grand fathers committed, but there is no reason to spoil the future of our children for it.

  19. Ok so you don’t believe in talking about things openly; I guess we’re not at that point yet. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you with my nationalist fervour, or made this uneasy. All the best to you.

  20. Come on, let’s not be silly.

    The key point that’s being missed here is that the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the Sudetenland (not all forced, either – some fled of their own accord) is nowhere *near* equivalent a crime to those of the Nazis. Were any of them rounded up and shot? Shoved into cattle trucks for dys on end, allowed to starve, forced to perform hard labour for months, and then gassed?

    We’re talking the loss of *property*, not lives. It was enthnic cleansing in its least offensive form (though all forms disgust me, naturally).

    There was so much propety lost, stolen and destroyed during the 1940s, where do you start? When does my grandmother get reimbursed for the set of bedroom furniture that was destroyed during the Blitz? When do Belgian peasants get reimbursed for the crops the Wehrmacht appropriated? When do the French railways get reimbursed for the bridges blown up by the Resistance?

    Hell – did anyone receive any compensation when my uncle’s plane was shot down over Egypt? How many individual families who lost people during the war have received any money from the country whose actions killed them? Have the people of Coventry? Of Dresden?

    It’s not about ignoring anything, or sweeping anything under the carpet – it’s about priorities (and practicalities). There is hardly a person in Europe whose parents or grandparents were not in some way affected by WWII, even if they weren’t themselves – you’re talking tens of millions of people with a claim to some form of compensation, using the same criteria you use for the Sudeten Germans.

    If you really want to try to right the injustices of that period with money (and I’m pretty sure that no amounts of money would be enough to make up for the trauma suffered on all sides), then you certainly wouldn’t start with a bunch of Germans who lost their houses in ’45 because the enthusiastically welcomed Hitler’s tanks in ’38. It’d be like going to a dog pound and rescuing the pitbull that savaged a small child rather than the cute little labrador puppy.

  21. @mirakulous

    You have not offended me in any way. I just openly laid out my own position and I think its backed by serious arguments. It’s of course not the only possible or justifiable position which exists. I’d be a damn genius otherwise ;)

  22. Nosemonkey- I did clearly say that the analogy stands, but the gravity of it changes. I didn’t claim that what the Nazis did was less grave, but I will say that not all germans are responsible for what the nazis did, and not all should be labelled as “pitbulls”, and not all Czechs were innocent, to be labelled “Labrador puppies”! Sure, many lives weren’t lost in the expulsion of germans, but as you said earlier, there are hardly any czech germans left, so a peoples WERE wiped out. Too bad Brunn doesn’t even exist anymore. Pepole will have to make do with Brno. Anyway, I won’t argue for this much longer.

  23. @Nosemonkey

    Thats what I meant above. If there is a mass murderer in town who does not only shoot dozens of peoples but afterwards cuts them into pieces and forces others to eat them, does this make the act of a simple murder any less severe? In other words, is ethical behavior relative? Thats actually pretty philosophical, but I’d say: no. The Germans have to get clean with the crimes they committed and the Czechs have to come into the clean with theirs.

    But if you want to compare both crimes, the Czech one was of course not nearly as severe as the industrial mass murder committed by the Germans and Austrians, not even close.

    But maybe one should clarify what they did nonetheless. The Brünner Todesmarsch for example was the ethnic cleansing of pretty much all German speaking inhabitants of Brünn or Brno. In May within a matter of hours without any warning all were rounded up at squares and forced to start walking with only minimal luggage allowed (and hardly any time to pack anyway). The men were still far away in POW camps, so the huge track of people consisted of women, children and elderly – nearly exclusively. After 55 km of forced walk the Russian occupied lower Austria had the borders closed. So these 27.000 people were forced into barns in a village close to the border by the Czech. The death of 2000 people is proven, recent studies estimate the total number of victims that can be assumed safely to be at least 5200. Thats a death toll of at least 20% within a few days. The deaths were caused by starvation, dehydration, typhus and its supposed that a number of them were shot as well.

    The organisator of the Brünner Deathmarch shortly afterwards was promoted to Minister for internal affairs. He also was responsible for the Aussig Massaker (likely death toll 40-220 people, killed by sheer lynching). He also lead the investigative commission on this incident to clarify any possible wrong doings.

    You know German speaking people had to wear white armbands back then and after an explosion took place (according to Czech documents staged by the interior ministry) it was easy to find those whose fault it obviously was (The victims were drowned, shot etc). The whole massacre happened already after Benes promissed due to British pressure to stop violence against the German speaking population. Its supposed aim was to show that the Germans were a danger.

    Of course, if you put the German crimes during WWII and the Czech crimes after WWII next to each other the latter look laughably small. That does not change the fact that also these were severe crimes against humanity and it was not just terrible accidents that no one wanted. I think this fact is not given the due respect by many people.

  24. Also, the hardship of those people who all of a sudden had these ‘immigrants’ from the czech republic and poland to share their towns and cities with. The population of a war torn Germany (and austria too i guess) increased by millions in a matter of days because of these expulsions. Can’t imagine that was easy either. Again, not to say the holocaust was easy!!

  25. There are two phrases that spring to mind: “can of worms” and “sins of the father”. I’ve already focussed on the first, so now the second.

    There were so many horrific crimes committed – by all sides – during the war that justice is almost impossible. How do you judge the German conscript, forced to take part in the massacre of innocents? How do you judge the British bomber pilot, sent to devastate cities? How do you judge the actions of peoples who, after the war, acted in a spirit of (often mistaken) revenge?

    This was war and its immediate aftermath. It cannot be judged by our present standards of laws, ethics or morals.

    Plus, on a more practical point, when it comes to Europe, looking to the past can only ever cause strife. One of the things soon learned after the war (by the mid-1950s, at least) was that to punish all those who participated in the Nazi atrocities would lead to even more long-term harm to the innocent people of Germany. Partially because the party had been in power for well over a decade, and most important positions were filled by party members (meaning there were few capable of taking on their jobs due to lack of experience), but also because it was effectively impossible to judge that many people fairly. We’re talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Nazis – some of whom enthusiastically participated in the regime’s crimes, some of whom were entirely passive. We’re talking degrees of guilt – and degrees of guilt that were practically impossible to judge.

    The same goes with the post-war backlash. Were innocent Germans forced from their homes? Certainly. Did the backlash go to far? Undeniably – especially in those areas occupied by the Red Army (but also, despite their expert PR campaigns, in those parts occupied by the Western Allies). There were some genuine horrors perpetrated by the liberated peoples of Europe, just as they had horrors perpetrated upon them by the Nazis.

    Which all makes justice impossible. Both sides did bad things, and innocent Germans suffered along with innocent Czechs, Poles, French, Jews and whatever. The only way to deal with this, in the immediate post-war period, was through concepts of collective guilt – which were soon deemed to be largely unjust, hence Germany swiftly being accepted back into the international fold, and hence so many former Nazis being allowed to escape without punishment.

    Because to determine the justice or injustice of individual acts perpetrated during times of war – especially a total war as widespread and chaotic as WWII – is impossible. It just can’t be done. Were some Sudeten Germans expelled from their homes having done nothing to support the Nazis? Yes. Undoubtedly. And were some expelled who *had* helped the Nazis? Likewise, undoubtedly.

    How do you distinguish? All you need to do is look at the various trials of suspected ex-Nazis in recent years to see the difficulties. Take John Demjanjuk as a prime example – identified now as *two* Nazi war criminals in war crimes trials, and yet still – plausibly – able to maintain that he was forced into killing people against his will.

    There are no records of what most German civilians got up to during the war. So how can you be certain that you’re not returning land to a war criminal or their descendants?

    In short, strict legality and strict property rights may be on the side of reparations, but it’s really not that simple.

    (Probably less coherent than I’d like as I’m a bit drunk – but hopefully you get the point…)

  26. That’s awesome. If you could come up with that a bit drunk, I will like your blog so much more in the future (as I am a recent reader here :D).
    Yes it’s all very difficult to decide, you’re right. Let’s just leave it at that as this could drag on longer than the war did!

  27. @Nosemonkey
    Actually I agree on a lot of what you say, but I can’t help myself but get the impression that you tend to be a bit relativist. However only towards one side, not so much the other. I think no one wants to relativize the crimes of the German side (not just the huge and the large ones but also the smaller ones), but I get the impression you do so a bit when it affects the other Czech side.

    You write “Were some Sudeten Germans expelled from their homes having done nothing to support the Nazis? Yes. ” Some? Pretty much all of the Sudeten Germans were ethnically cleansed, completely independently from any arguments of guilt. The only reason that was effectively applied and the only one that counted was if they were German speaking or not. If they had to wear the white armband or not. The only principle was “guilty! no matter if innocent”. Massacres were encouraged or even actively instigated by the state power of the new Czechoslovakia (and I would not put any guilt and force it on the Russians, it wasn’t the Russians that were the driving force here, it was Czech politicians).

    Lets come to the bright side, yes it was “only” bloody ethnic cleansing. Most of the ethnically cleansed people survived it, even though I would ask not to ignore a death toll of 20 000 to 30 000 people either who had to die by large solely due to their ethnicity. In Yugoslavia something like this was enough to create a whole international court and jail the responsible for similar ethnic cleansing activities.

    But don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about justice at all. Whom would it really help and at what costs? No, I am talking about dignity. The dignity to admit the crimes ones forefathers have committed. Without consequences except of saving the own dignity. Without all the relativism around it. I recognized that you stopped short of calling the ethnic cleansing in Czechoslovakia (which hit Hungarians as well even though on a smaller scale, what was the relativist argument here?) a crime or even a crime against humanity? Why? On the other side no one would stop calling a crime a crime if it was one; rightfully. One would stop short of punishing all Germans for all crimes, thats something different, I am against punishing the Czechs either. But just because of that, no one relativizes crimes committed by Nazis, even if many probably never were brought to justice.

  28. Yes, but Germany – and the ethnic Germans of the Sudetenland – started it.

    And it really is that simple.

    Was the punishment disproportionate? Possibly. But a majority of the Sudetenland Germans *were* in favour of the Nazi ocupation (97% voting in favour in December 1938, half a million joining the party), and therefore *were* comlicit in the almost immedate persecution of the region’s Jewish population, and *did* support the subsequent unprovoked Nazi invasion (and destruction) of the rest of Czechoslovakia.

    Should the Sudetenland have been included in Czechoslovakia after WWI? Perhaps not – hence Chamberlain backing the Munich agreement in ’38. But did that justify the Sudeten Germans backing the persecution of the region’s Jews and invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia? Definitely not.

    So – was the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans a crime, or a punishment? I’m in no position to judge, but would say a bit of both. All I do know is, if you’re talking about acknowledging and trying to rectify the injustices of the Second World War era, you don’t start by goin “oh, those poor Germans”.

    Are the less than pleasant actions of the Allies and liberated peoples after WWII largely unknown? Yes – but only because they came in the shadow of far, far greater crimes.

    And in any case, who’s now responsible? Can Vaclav Klaus and the modern Czech state be be held to account for something that the Benes government and Red Army organised 60+ years ago? Why should the modern Czech state – or modern Czechs – compensate former Sudeten Germans for something they had nothing to do with?

  29. “Why should the modern Czech state – or modern Czechs – compensate former Sudeten Germans for something they had nothing to do with?”

    Because the modern West Germany, and currently Germany, and modern Germans compensate former European Jews for something they had nothing to do with, and still live with that shame,and will for many more generations! Czechs should also live with the shame of what they did, regardless of its gravity!

  30. Post-war compensation from Germany to the victims of Nazi aggression was primarily set by the Potsdam conference. The same Potsdam Conference that agreed to the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans. The expulsion of the Sudeten Germans was effectively compensation to Czechoslovkia for the Nazi invasion, which the Sudeten Germans primarily supported. So you’re effectively asking for compensation for compensation.

    As I say, Germany started it – and the Sudeten Germans, despite having a right to self-determination (which was finally granted with the Munich agreement, and with Czech agreement) pulled the rest of Czechoslovakia in as well by backing the invasion of the rest of the country – despite having already got what they wanted.

    They picked the fight with the rest of Czechoslovakia, not the other way around. They lost. Serves them right. Because, let’s face it, if a bully starts a fight with you and you end up beating the crap out of them, you have no reason to feel shame.

    Give the figures for Sudeten Germans killed and forced from their homes in isolation, yes – it’s shocking by today’s standards. By the standards of the 1940s, and compared to what the Nazis (who the Sudeten Germans supported) got up to, it’s nothing.

    I’ve been hunting around and the absolute top end figure I could find for the number of Sudeten Germans who may have died during the expulsions is c.270,000 – with most estimates seeming to suggest c.20,000 deliberately killed. The number of Czech Jews killed by the Nazis? c.277,000. Plus another c.43,000 Czech civilians and another c.25,000 Czech military personnel on top of that.

    If anything, in other words, they got off lightly. And say what you like – the Sudeten Germans voted for the Nazi occupation in 1938, and supported the invasion of 1939. They started it.

  31. “Post-war compensation from Germany to the victims of Nazi aggression was primarily set by the Potsdam conference. The same Potsdam Conference that agreed to the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans. The expulsion of the Sudeten Germans was effectively compensation to Czechoslovkia for the Nazi invasion, which the Sudeten Germans primarily supported. So you’re effectively asking for compensation for compensation.”

    No I’m not. You can’t right a wrong, with creating another wrong, because it ultimately doesn’t solve anything. Conflict in Palestine is the ultimate proof of this!!The only reason Czechs are getting away with it easily is because clearly the Sudeten Germans aren’t rising up massively to ask for whats theirs. That still doesnt mean that the Czechs (and Poles for that matter) shouldn’t accept what they did, as all history knows they did it. This the least they could do (if we’re to forget monetary compensation altogether)!

  32. As the Sudeten Germans started it, how about they put up their hands first and admit their own guilt? Then perhaps the Czechs might be more inclined to accept that they went too far. Reconciliation is the way forwards, not recrimination.

    Unsurprisingly, though, the idea of a bunch of former Nazi party supporters and/or their descendants going “Oi – give us back our stuff” to a country that the Nazis invaded is not going to go down to well.

  33. What you think the Germans have been doing for the past 65 years??? COLLECTIVE GUILT!!Whether they were individually guilty or not. The Germans can’t even think about concepts like patriotism or nationalism, because of this taboo and guilt! And that’s why they haven’t asked for reparations(officially)! But I thought that everyone would agree that all parties to WWII did things they should not be proud of. There are no innocent parties in a conflict as big as WWII. In that case the Czechs and Poles should accept responsibility for SOME things at least!

  34. “And it really is that simple.”

    Are you serious? That sounds like kindergarten and its in my opinion also as justified. We all know, the history, the Czechs had all reasons to hate all Germans. But I think I have made my case already above. Being victim of crimes, no matter how terrible does not constitute the right of ruthless revenge, especially in times when the “good ones” have already won and the bad guy lies unconscious in front of you. Well, it might be satisfactory its barbarian at the same time and I can’t except that its a sufficient excuse.

    [quote]
    Was the punishment disproportionate? [/quote]

    I could not trust my eyes fully when I read the rest of your response. You call it “punishment” and are not sure if it was “disproportionate”?

    Well maybe we can agree on the facts, you can tell me if you do so. The “punishment” was carried out not based on the question if someone was a Nazi party member but if someone was German speaking, ie purely on ethnic grounds. German speaking Czechs (after all, they were citizens of the same country with similar legitimation as the rest) had if they were given the chance at all (many were not) to prove that they were not guilty in order to be innocent and not guilty meant one was provenly involved in insurgency against Nazi Germany which I dare to claim a lot of Czech speaking citizens could not have proven either at court. The whole legitimation of what happened was based on the sole principle of “collective guilt” based on ethnicity which was made sure to be marked by forcing all German speaking Czechs to wear a white armband in public.

    So much to the legitimation, what happened based on it was systematic ethnic cleansing of German speaking Czechs, not just in the Sudetenland, in the entire country. And while they were at it, a considerable number of Hungarians were ethnically cleansed in the Slovakian part as well, I guess based on similar arguments of being traitors, but I am not sure. The ethnic cleansing was in many extends just ripping off the people of pretty much all their property including moveable goods, but at least kept them alive, some larger acts stand out for their ruthlessness however, like the Brünner Deathmarch, where 20% of its victims (nearly exclusively women, children and elderly people; Sounds like the very people who committed the most severe crimes against the Czech and the Jewish people, right?) died from it. You have cases massive lynch mob murder provoked under faked pretense by the state itself as well.

    So lets take all these aspects of this “punishment” together. Do you acknowledge it so far?

    Ok, in case you do so I ask you, how you can be not sure if this “punishment” was “disproportionate” and if it was not rather a “crime against humanity” than justified “punishment. And last but not least? Do you think cases of punishment based pretty much solely on collective guilt can be justified?

    Just a last remark. You said its “you don’t start by goin “oh, those poor Germans”.” Which is kind of interesting. No one started with the “poor Germans”, actually nearly every German will be more than ready to talk hours about the crimes their own forefathers committed and actually in the 60’s the student unrests were also dubbed the revolution against the own fathers (and grandfathers) for a reason. We are pretty much talking already for 60 years about these crimes (and thats right to do so, btw), yet it seems for some its still not acceptable (at all) to talk about crimes of the other side that happened after the war was already over , because “you don’t start by goin ‘oh, those poor Germans”.

    PS: I am not making the case for any punishment of any Czech (nor about any compensation payments at all). I know some Czechs, the last thing I’d do with them is speaking about long gone crimes. We have better things to do than that, haven’t we? I am just debating here because this is in the blogosphere, does not insult any Czech and no one cares about this little debate anyway ;) To your question who is responsible nowadays? For the crimes no one, for making a clear table in respecting also the dark chapters of the own history its children of those who were responsible for it. But again thats not about punishing anyone nor can it be forced on them. It has to be a voluntary act by themselves. By doing so I am not expecting from the Czechs anything more than I expect from my own countrymen. And seeing how much smaller and how much brighter the dark chapters of the Czech history are, it should not be that hard after all do do so. (To be correct, the Czech state has already come a long way in doing so)

  35. @ Slartibartfas. You said:
    “And while they were at it, a considerable number of Hungarians were ethnically cleansed in the Slovakian part as well, I guess based on similar arguments of being traitors, but I am not sure.”

    And you’re right. The same pretext was used in many places, even countries far from the region we’re discussing. Greece(which I mentioned earlier) used the same pretext to expel or kill tens of thousands of Cham Albanians from northern greece! Similar deal in poland(prussia) and the baltics i believe (memel). It was a great time to do things that would otherwise be impossible. A great time for the nationalism of smaller nations, as their actions were shadowed by the failed nationalism of the germans, and they had a great scapegoat!

    P.S. The only place that I havent heard expel germans is Denmark. I guess its part of western european culture not to collectively blame and punish a whole nation!

  36. Slartibartfas – But the original suggestion in this (now lengthy) sidetrack was specifically about court cases likely to be brought. Of course we all accept that assumed guilt is wrong, and of course we all accept that the deaths of women and children for crimes committed by others is wrong. And yes, the backlash against Germans in the immediate aftermath of the war (not to mention during the Allies’ advance – especially on the Eastern Front) was extreme enough in some cases to count – by today’s standards – as a crime against humanity.

    However, in the immediate aftermath of the war, the collective guilt of the Germans as a people (and their allies – hence, no doubt, the backlash against Hungarians in Slovakia) was the first, widely-accepted approach of the victorious side. In the case of the Sudeten Germans, their 97% vote in favour of the Nazi occupation in ’38 is enough to indicate that they weren’t, as a group, exactly reluctant. But the scale of their complicity in the Nazi crimes was simply impossible to determine on a case-by-case basis. The problems with this approach were soon acknowledged – which is why so few German Nazi party members ended up facing punishment.

    Which is why – specifically on the question of whether there should be any legal recourse for the descendants of Germans expelled from the Sudetenland after the war – I don’t think it’s either likely to happen or possible. It was a chaotic time, and it’s hard enough to work out the guilt even of acknowledged death camp guards like Demjanjuk this long after the event. How do you judge the justice of a German family’s expulsion – an expulsion that was explicitly in response to what the Germans had done (explicitly on an ethnic basis) over the preceding decade – without being able to determine their involvement with what the Nazis did?

    Plus, of course, the mass expulsion of Germans and other citizens of the Axis powers was explicitly excluded from the UN’s postwar charter condemning such moves (because the Axis powers and their peoples were deemed to have brought it upon themselves by – as I say – starting it), even while the Nazis were explicitly condemned for their own mass expulsions at the Nuremburg trials. (So, mirakulous, it wasn’t a “pretext” – they were given explicit permission by the UN.) By modern-day standards of international law the Czech expulsions would be considered a crime (and if they happened today, most certainly a crime against humanity, and possibly a genocide) – but at the time, it was legal.

    So yes – approach this as a moral issue, and the Czechs were flat-out wrong. An eye for an eye is satisfying, but only makes the pain and suffering worse. As a legal issue, though, (the point we were originally addressing) unless modern laws are made retroactive, there’s not a case to answer.

    And even if you did make modern laws retroactive, and a concerted effort was made to go back and seek justice for all those in the 1940s who committed acts that would now be deemed crimes against humanity, as I say, you wouldn’t start with the backlash against the Germans – you’d start by hunting down every former Nazi party member and working out just what it was they got up to. This proved an impossible task in the 40s and 50s, which is why it was abandoned and so many Nazis allowed to walk free – it would be even more impossible now.

  37. Nosemonkey, its also how you interpret things. The devil is in between the lines. You say:
    “In the case of the Sudeten Germans, their 97% vote in favour of the Nazi occupation in ‘38 is enough to indicate that they weren’t, as a group, exactly reluctant.”

    That 97% voted YES on the extermination of czech jews, on opening concentration camps, on wiping a whole peoples out?? Or was that vote a YES to joining their homeland and unifying their nation in a democratic manner of self-determination; which you also interpret as “in favour of Nazi occupation”?! One can’t be “occupied” by his own country! So clearly, I think they voted 97% for the latter, as a show of their will towards self-determination, and I don’t think they voted for the holocaust.

    “(So, mirakulous, it wasn’t a “pretext” – they were given explicit permission by the UN.)”

    I’m sorry, I’m confused. This makes it better or worse for justice?? The UN deemed expulsions of millions of people legal, and I’m supposed to answer back and say “Oh ok, well if the UN said so, then it must’ve been the just, fair thing to do”?? THAT’S EVEN WORSE THAT AN ORGANIZATION SUCH AS THE UN, NOT ONLY SAT ON THE SIDELINES BUT ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN KNOWINGLY AND NOW DOESN’T PRESSURE THE STATES THAT DID IT TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT!!

  38. Nosemonkey, its also how you interpret things. The devil is in between the lines. You say:
    “In the case of the Sudeten Germans, their 97% vote in favour of the Nazi occupation in ‘38 is enough to indicate that they weren’t, as a group, exactly reluctant.”

    That 97% voted YES on the extermination of czech jews, on opening concentration camps, on wiping a whole peoples out?? Or was that vote a YES to joining their homeland and unifying their nation in a democratic manner of self-determination; which you also interpret as “in favour of Nazi occupation”?! One can’t be “occupied” by his own country! So clearly, I think they voted 97% for the latter, as a show of their will towards self-determination, and I don’t think they voted for the holocaust.

    “(So, mirakulous, it wasn’t a “pretext” – they were given explicit permission by the UN.)”

    I’m sorry, I’m confused. This makes it better or worse for justice?? The UN deemed expulsions of millions of people legal, and I’m supposed to answer back and say “Oh ok, well if the UN said so, then it must’ve been the just, fair, right and normal thing to do”?? THAT’S EVEN WORSE THAT AN ORGANIZATION SUCH AS THE UN, NOT ONLY SAT ON THE SIDELINES BUT ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN KNOWINGLY AND NOW DOESN’T PRESSURE THE STATES THAT DID IT TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT!! Eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind! I think my calling it a pretext made it seem a little better than how horrible the situation is.

    I am not arguing that we should legally do something about this anymore (although I can’t say that I’ve totally changed my mind about that), but I’m saying the least that can be done is those states that participated in massive expulsions, go out in public and accept responsibility in a literary form, in the spirit of decency, in the spirit of union( as in European Union), in the spirit of co-operation, and in the future sharing a common history.

  39. @Nosemonkey

    I dare to claim that the ethnic cleansing which took place in Czechoslovakia after the war was already over and lasting victory secured beyond any doubt, was not only by todays standards severe crimes, but also by the standards of the Nürnberg trials as well. Just that the Nürnberg trials never had the intent to handle anyone else than German criminals. (I am impressed by the trials and the American idealism to try something else than the usual victory justice way of dealing with the looser nonetheless)

    Maybe it helps if you imagine, there would have been a German occupied territory and the Germans in command there would have done exactly the same that the Czechs did in a similar situation and then imagine them in fron of the Nürnberg trials and imagine how the court would have ruled. (That shall in no way clean Germans from anything or throw mud on the Czechs, the purpose is to change the perspective while the actions remain the same)

    Having that said, I can’t accept collective guilt. Its nothing else than racism (in lack of another word, is there something like “ethnicism”? I hope you know what I mean). Ethnic cleansing based on “collective guilt” is little better than the earlier and not very long living Nazi concepts of ethnic cleansing of Jews without killing them to some foreign country, like Madagaskar. Sounds far fetched? Well, Czech resistance groups happily called for a “Final solution of the German question”.

    In regards to voting behavior of the Sudeten Germans. You seem to refer to “elections” in a region under Nazi control. It seems to me that you have to be an utter cynical person to use such an argument. Austria also had a great referendum under Nazi control and while a majority certainly supported the Anschluss the result was something around these 97% as well. its fascinating because it seems the one third of society which was socialist (leftist, with little sympathy for Nazis in general) and the other third that was christlich-sozial (staunchly catholic and Austrian nationalist) must have overnight turned all into model Nazis. But maybe the fact helped, that the referendums or elections of these sort, were, neither free, nor fair, nor secret. One of my grandgrandmothers voted “Nein”. She could be glad that it she lived in a village in the middle of nowhere, where the people new each other and obviously, the officials had mercy and looked away. As easily she could have ended up in Mauthausen. But don’t be bothered, just go on using this percentage number for your arguments, or instead, you can use the number of 2/3 being in support of an Anschluss of the Sudetenland to the Reich. Which was what the respective party in the Sudetenland got at the last fair election.

    Just go ahead then and set all these who voted like asame with those who supported or even actively took part in all or most of the crimes of Nazi Germany. The situation was the following, the Czech State discriminated the German speaking society and at the same time unemployment was vast (30% or so) with the share of those who did not get any social help from the state being very substantial. At the same time they saw unemployment rapidly falling in the Reich. And you want to tell me that people voted like they did because they wanted to exterminate the Jews and kill bloody Czechs? Because that is what your argument of collective guilt is implying. Of course in the whole argument there is no place for aspects like companies pushing their workers into party membership if they don’t want to join these 30% above either.

    Btw, I know of only roughly half a million of Sudeten Nazi party members. thats maybe 15-25%. But you seem to believe in a misconception, not the party members were ethnically cleansed, all German speaking Czechs were, unless married to a Czech speaking person, being important for the Czech industry (what hypocrisy isn’t it?) or those “anti fascist” ones, these lucky enough who could no only prove that they fought against he Nazis but were forgiven being German speaking therefore. It was not Party membership, it was not what they did, it was only and exclusively their bloody ethnicity that was their crime. Why they had to be ethnically cleansed. And you have to excuse me but I can’t accept that as legitimate action, not under todays principles, nor under those from back then.

    In my opinion, a possible thing one could do today is that the Czechs acknowledge everything that historical evidence has produced and call crimes, crimes without “but” or “it was right therefore”. On the other side, Germany and Austria could agree with the Czech Republic to rule out any demands for compensation. But thats a merely theoretical question as the Czech Republic has come already a pretty long way anyway to excuse for the crimes it committed. I am not sure but I think it committed already more guilt than you are ready to.

    PS: I doubt the massacre of Aussig was legal under the own laws. It was not punished appropriately, little surprisingly. The largest rest of the ethnic cleansing was of course legal, after all, the Czech state MADE it legal. It could have had legalized pretty much anything.

  40. I agree with everything above, except one thing. Just throwing this out there. Maybe a lot more austrians were for the anschluss Slartibartfas for the same reasons that you mentioned the sudetens were for it (unemployment,no discrimination against them, powerful economy etc). And I would like to add my own reason there, that you didn’t mention, either purposely because you disagree or just forgot, but patriotism I think plays a part, and wanting to unify one’s homeland and nation in 1 state is and was especially then a big dream of nationalist europeans. Austria tried hard to join germany ever since the austro-hungarian empire fell apart, but the allies didn’t allow it. Well the anschluss came only 16 or 17 years later after Austria was forced to not be part of germany and not to call itself “Republic of German Austria”. (I believe that name was finally dropped in 1921/1922). So in 17 years that same generation of people who wanted the union were still alive for the most part. Anyway, not to drone on and on, but I believe that nationalism played a part too and maybe even leftists and catholics would agree to an anschluss although they disagreed with the ruling party of their future unified homeland, but ruling parties come and go (think of this in their perspective, governments change all the time). That being said, as I’ve mentioned above I do not believe that anyone that was german, or liked their unified germany was a nazi or was supporting the holocaust. People cannot be held responsible for liking their own country and wanting it to have some more dignity; that doesn’t make them guilty with the few that committed the attorocities.
    But like I said, just throwing this out there. I don’t speak for austrians (as i’m not from austria) and about their national sentiments. I just know what I’ve learned in my studies of history.

  41. I have to correct you a bit. The first Republic of Austria never looked for an Anschluss to my knowledge, quite the contrary, it tried to create some sort of Austro-nationalism. By Austria I mean the whole time governing Christlich-Sozialen, todays conservative party. In the beginning rightfully, in the latter years in the self created Austrofascist regime.

    In this whole time if Austria was oriented towards a foreign country, it was Italy. Actually the Anschluss became only feasible to think about in the first place after it bought Mussolini and after he therefore let Austria fall, as well as his protection for its sovereignty.

    The Christian-socials had support among 1/3 of Austrian society. You can gladly count nearly all of them to the anti-Germany camp. The socialists however, todays Social Democrats, were pro Anschluss. But only until the Nazis putsched to power. As Hitler came to power they turned more and more away from that prospect until they finally concluded that they will oppose any Anschluss with Nazi-Germany. Leaves the last third, the “illegals”, ie the Austrian Nazis. Well, I guess I don’t have to comment on them.

    The Austro-fascists wanted to hold a referendum on the question of the Anschluss… just in time to prevent it an ad hoc extremely badly prepared but hastily accomplished Anschluss was forced onto the country by the German army. The Austrians did not oppose it on the streets but actually cheered to the German army passing by. Hitler himself was surprised that his invasion was welcomed so friendly.

    Its hard to say how many wholeheartedly supported the Anschluss after it was clear that its going to come and stay anyway. Even though the “first victim” theory was popular for the longest time of the 2nd Republic, it was most likely a lie to make post WWII Austrians sleep better.. (supported by the allies to prevent new pro Anschluss sentiment)

    Speculations about how the referendum under Austrofascist control would have turned out are varied, but its pretty much a fact that the German Reich did not want to wait for finding out and invaded first. I dare to claim the Austrofascist regime had justified hopes of mobilizing a majority against an Anschluss. With a Nazi style referendum they could have easily achieved an 97% result against the Anschluss as well ;)

    You are perfectly true that a huge motivation for supporting the Anschluss was that the Reich was thriving but Austria was just getting gout of full grown bankruptcy. People probably liked that the most, than a number of them might have liked the German nationalist aspects, anti semitism and racism certainly was welcomed as well, those dreaming of the final solution of the jewish race hardly were more than 1/3 of society and from these many probably had ethnic cleansing in mind not extermination. Going to war was probably hardly what was securing support for the Nazis. Planned Holocaust unknown, at least at that time. Having that said, people did not moan when the Reich actually launched its war (under the pretense of defending itself against Polish aggression). Isn’t it interesting that even the Nazis had to fake an attack but did not dare to launch a war all by themselves?

    PS:
    Among the devote catholics the support for the Reich might have been the lowest, the were the core supporters of the Austro fascists (don’t confuse them with the Nazis, they were actually fiercely anti Nazi. Facist, but anti Nazi). Rot-Weiß-Rot bis in den Tod was their slogan andthey thought of Hitler of being the Antichrist… actually not that far off from reality. Among the leftists some supporting the Anschluss remained propably, obviously some of them had to change sides to the Nazis as well, otherwise they could have never established majority. Many of them probably hoped however that the nazi regime may pass by sooner than later as they wanted a unification, not the Nazis.

  42. I think it may have been the other way around. Italy was placing great importance on austria, so much so that hitler went to italy to test the waters first before making any moves towards austria. Here is the wikipedia page on the Republic of German Austria.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Austria
    Besides the name being intuitive as to what they were going for, when they named it that I’ll call your attention to Article 2 of the constitution of the Republic of German Austria which stated: “German Austria is a component of the German Republic” (Article 2). This is in the 2nd paragraph under history (in case you don’t have an interest in reading the whole page). Also, it goes on to say: “Later plebiscites in the provinces of Tyrol and Salzburg yielded majorities of 98 and 99% in favor of a unification with Germany. “. So like I said before, only a year after this republic existed in kind of a gray area, thinking itself part of germany the treaty of st.germain (1919) was signed which forced “german austria” not to join germany and to drop the word german from its name. So I think it’s clear that they had an intent to create a unified germany up until the nazis came around and actually did it.

    It seems to me that you’re making it that everyone was against it, or at least 2/3s. I don’t know, because I don’t know internal austrian politics of that time that well. All I know is what I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot on nationalism, and I clearly stated that I was just putting the idea out there, that maybe many austrians wanted unification and they put political ideology aside to make that happen (leftist, rightist, christian social, etc etc). And maybe others wanted it because of the security and stability that a big country brought, and succesful economic policy that the nsdap had made work in germany, etc etc.That’s all I’m saying.

    As to the speculation on the result of the referendum, opinions are varied you’re right. When I took a course in university (in canada) called “The History of the Third Reich”, we were told by our professor that “there was no doubt” that unification would’ve won, but hitler just panicked and thought maybe he wouldnt…and we all know what he did after that. I realize that may be biased, but he was still an accredited prof.

    As to your PS, I agree, and I said it before, I don’t blame the austrian germans (if you allow me to use that word, I think its taboo nowadays towards austrians right?) for wanting unification, and I believe that that’s as far as their aspirations went. And I think they just hoped that eventually power would change hands and theyd keep their unified country under another leadership. So the compromise may have been worth it even for someone who is anti-nazi(if we put ourselves in their position, and if unification is the greater goal of the nation).And there is nothing wrong with them having that aspiration at any time (even today if they choose, but of course its denied ;).