Stirring resistance from Moscow: the German communists of Czechoslovakia and wireless propaganda in the Sudetenland, 1941–1945
German History, 24, (2), . (doi:10.1191/0266355406gh372oa).
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This is a study of the radio propaganda campaign targeted at the Sudetenland from the USSR from November 1941 to May 1945. Under the supervision of the Czechoslovak communist party and the Comintern, the broadcasts were composed and conducted by Sudeten German communists stationed first in Ufa and then in Moscow. At first, on the basis of limited information, they strove simply to divide Sudeten Germans at home from the Nazi régime. But from May 1942 they stepped up their appeal for active resistance alongside that of their Czech 'brothers' in the Protectorate. Through 1943 the appeal remained positive, assuring all German anti-fascists that they would be secure and treated equally in a future Czechoslovak state. By 1944, however, the message subtly altered in tune with Moscow's decision to expel most Sudeten Germans. The broadcasts failed to spell this out, but tried to warn their listeners of what might happen if they did not resist. In reality, though many in the Sudetenland were disillusioned with Nazism, the level of active resistance seems to have been small and the broadcasts probably had a minimal effect. Nevertheless, they alarmed the Nazi authorities and some of the propaganda arguments certainly matched the growing anxieties of many Sudeten Germans. By 1944 the Sudeten communist broadcasters themselves were divided over what tone to adopt. Some still felt a certain Sudeten allegiance and vainly resisted a policy line based on presumed Sudeten 'collective guilt'. The majority bowed before the official, more critical line, accepting that most Sudeten Germans would be expelled after the war. The article seeks for the first time to probe the mindset of Sudeten German communists, and to set this alongside that of their target audience in the wartime Sudetenland.
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