The Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile and the Jews
during World War 2 (1938-1948).
University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities,
The thesis analyses Czechoslovak-Jewish relations in the twentieth century using the case study of the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile in London and its activities during the Second World War. In order to present the research in a wider perspective, it covers the period between the Munich Agreement, when the first politicians left Czechoslovakia, and the Communist Coup in February 1948. Hence the thesis evaluates the political activities and plans of the Czechoslovak exiles, as well as the implementation of the plans in liberated Czechoslovakia after 1945.
In comparison with previous contributions to the theme, this thesis is based on extensive archival research. It examines how the Czechoslovak treatment of the Jews was shaped by resurgent Czech and Slovak nationalism/s caused by the war and the experience of the occupation by the German army. Simultaneously, the thesis enquires into the role played in the Czechoslovak exiles’ decision making by their efforts to maintain the image of a democratic country in the heart of Europe. An adherence to western liberal democracies was a key political asset used by Czechoslovakia since her creation in 1918. Fair treatment of minorities, in particular the Jews, became part of this ‘myth’. However, the Second World War brought to the fore Czechoslovak efforts to nationally homogenize the post-war Republic and rid it of its ‘disloyal’ minorities. Consequently, the thesis evaluates how the Jews as a minority were perceived and constructed.
The thesis is divided into five chapters, following the developments in chronological, as well as thematic order. The first chapter analyses the influence of people in occupied Czechoslovakia on the exiles’ policy towards the Jews. Chapter two and three document the exiles’ policy towards the Jews during the war, including the government’s responses to the Holocaust. Chapter four enquires into the wartime origins of the post-war Czechoslovak policy towards the Jews. Finally, the last chapter analyses the influence of public opinion abroad on the Czechoslovak policy towards the Jews during and after the war.
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