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Innocent Germans Brutalised and Killed In Czechoslovakia After The War

When Germany lost the war in 1945, it marked the beginning of a long night of suffering and misery for Germans. Germans who had settled in neighbouring countries during the Nazi occupation (also Germans who had lived there for centuries) were systematically persecuted, murdered and expelled. 

One such place was Czechoslovakia. 

Germans were marked with the swastika

Czech revenge began in Prague May 5, 1945. Although the written record documents these atrocities (Giles MacDonogh details them in his book, After the Reich), the German news daily Spiegel revealed June 2, 2010 that a newly discovered film, hidden for years, has been recovered. The events in the film took place on May 10, 1945 in Prague. According to Jan Puhl, writing in Spiegel, the film shows Germans being taken out of a cinema, led to a nearby meadow, and shot. The wounded were crushed to death by a Red Army truck. Cinemas and schools were used to imprison Germans awaiting death or deportation. The collective cry, “Death to all Germans” signaled massive reprisals against all Germans. Giles MacDonogh likens the killing frenzy to the days of the French Reign of Terror. He writes that the Czechs were backed by the Red Army and believed that the Allies “would turn a blind eye to all that happened.”
For decades, the images lay forgotten in an aluminum canister -- almost seven minutes of original black and white film, shot with an 8 mm camera on May 10, 1945, in the Prague district of Borislavka during the confusing days of the German surrender.

The man who shot the film was Jirí Chmelnicek, a civil engineer and amateur filmmaker who lived in the Borislavka district and wanted to document the city's liberation from the brutal Nazi occupation. Chmelnicek filmed tanks rolling through the streets, soldiers and refugees. Then, at some point, his camera also caught groups of Germans, who had been driven out of their houses and into Kladenska Street by Red Army soldiers and Czech militiamen. Chmelnicek's film shows how the Germans were rounded up in a nearby movie theater, also called the Borislavka. The camera then pans to the side of the street, where 40 men and at least one woman stand with their backs to the lens. A meadow can be seen in the background. Shots ring out and, one after another, each person in the line slumps and falls forward over a low embankment. The injured lying on the ground beg for mercy.

Then a Red Army truck rolls up, its tires crushing dead and wounded alike. Later other Germans can be seen, forced to dig a mass grave in the meadow.

The first casualty on the Aussig Bridge was a young German woman with her baby. Surrounded and clubbed to death, she and the baby were thrown into the Elbe River. Writer Douglas Botting states that, “…within three hours up to 2,700 more Germans had been murdered on the bridge or in the main square…”

Other Germans were taken to the former Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt, which was being used to incarcerate Germans. Rhona Churchill, writing in the London Daily Mail, detailed the May 30, 1945 Brno death march when 25,000 men, women and children were marched to the Austrian border but refused entry. Her article begins, “Here is what happened when young revolutionaries of the Czech National Guard decided to ‘purify’ the town.” Unable to go anywhere, the people were placed in a field. With sparse food rations, no shelter, and disease, many rapidly died.

A May 12, 2010 interview on Radio Prague (published on their web site) with Marie Ranzenhoferova, a survivor, details the death march. In many cities, Germans were dispossessed of all assets, forbidden to receive ration cards for food, and held to a curfew. MacDonogh writes that, “There was to be no mercy for old men, women or children – even for German dogs.” Some Germans were used as human torches.

Measures were introduced consciously aping those taken by the Germans against the Jews: they could go out only at certain times of day; they were obliged to wear white armbands, sometimes emblazoned with an ‘N’ for Němec or German; they were forbidden from using public transport or walking on the pavement; they could not send letters or go to the cinema, theatre or pub; they had restricted times for buying food; and they could not own jewellery, gold, silver, precious stones, wireless sets or cameras. They were issued with ration cards, but were not allowed meat, eggs, milk, cheese or fruit. The Germans also had to be ready to work as slaves on farms, in industry or in the mines.From After The Reich P 131


The Brno march, sometimes also called a death march (German: Brünner Todesmarsch) began late on the night of 30 May 1945 when the ethnic German minority in Brno, capital of the Czechoslovak province Moravia, was expelled by force to nearby Austria. The expulsion of the city's 20,000 German inhabitants was directed by the Národní výbor města Brna ("National Committee of the City of Brno").

The psychological motivation was in reaction to the excesses of the war time Nazi occupation. The occupying Wehrmacht garrison occupying Brno had not surrendered the city (analogous to Ostrava and Prague), and the Allies had to seize it by force. Shortly after the war ended, the Czechoslovak government began expelling from the country its large ethnic German minority (over 3 million people, mostly along the German and Austrian borders). Those living in Brno were forced on a march 56 kilometres (35 mi) south towards the Austrian border. Few of the victims were men, since most male adults had been conscripted into the Wehrmacht and were by then prisoners of war.

A greater tragedy than expulsion was to befall the expellees after the Soviet authorities refused to allow them to enter their sector of Austria. (Austria had been divided into four occupation zones, and Moravia bordered the Soviet Occupation Zone.) The Brno Germans were marched back to the city and were interned in the village of Pohořelice (today part of Brno). What happened next is controversial. About 700 are confirmed as dying, either by disease (shigellosis) or by murder.

Some German sources claim that between 1300–8000 died, but these figures are not supported by the evidence. The communist agent Bedřich Pokorný, who had organized the 31 July 1945 Ústí massacre of hundreds of ethnic Germans in Ústí nad Labem (German: Aussig an der Elbe), was also behind the Brno event.


During World War II, many gruesome crimes were committed and one would have expected, that the end of the war, would have brought an end to all the inhumanities. But unfortunately, it was not so. 

Let's start with 1944. The war is reaching Moravia, which was spared until now. Bruenn experienced at the end of August it's first heavy air attack. Dead and damage of buildings were the result. In 1945 it became clear, that the end of the war is near. The Allied Army pushed forward and entered German territory. The Soviet Army is closing in on Bruenn. The German military is still in the city, indicating a relatively normal atmosphere. However, the German troops soon begin to retreat before the Soviets, leaving only women, children and the elderly behind. All men were gone, serving the military. The majority of the German people who remained in the city, were not worried about their fate. They never hurt or persecuted any Czech person, and therefore never expected any kind of revenge.

Their ignorance of the real and present danger, was a result of not listening to the foreign radio broadcasts. Listening to these broadcasts was a practice, ruthlessly persecuted by the secret police (Gestapo). Had they listened, they would have heard President Benesch, who had fled to London, urge the Czech population to arm themselves and to slay the Germans, wherever and whenever possible. The Czechs also listened to similar demands from London and Moscow, namely to "collectively liquidate all Germans". Many Czechs followed these orders and complied with extreme force. 

When the Soviet Army occupied Bruenn on April 26, 1945, the situation became much worse and more hatred was ignited. As a result, gruesome attacks, like rapes and severe beatings, began against the Germans. Because Hitler and his army had conquered Czechoslovakia, the Czechs wanted to take revenge and did so on innocent Germans. They justified all these misdeeds as revenge for the actions of Hitler's occupation forces.

Stragglers were beaten with truncheons and whips and those who failed to get up were shot and their bodies stripped and plundered. Survivors were strip-searched before being driven on to a camp at Pohrlitz, about halfway to the Austrian border. The Red Cross nurse claimed that a thousand had already died. Another said that the camp claimed a further 1,700 lives. One mother recounts that two of her three children died on the march. The marchers were lodged in a car factory. The younger women were raped by the guards.

Confinement camps, to house Germans, were set up inside and outside the city. The Germans within these camps were tortured and mistreated. Because there was no medical help available for them, many succumbed and died. The revenge for the actions of Hitler's occupation forces was now taken against the innocent. The sad finale was on Mai 30, 1945, when the remaining Germans were expelled from Bruenn. 

There were 25-30 thousand women, children , sick and elderly. It started on the evening before Corpus Christi Day, when within a few hours, all Germans were forced to assemble on the street in several parts of the city. Mistakenly, in addition to the Germans, some Czechs and Jews were also brought forward, because they had German sounding names. Some even were from different countries. The people were only allowed to bring, whatever belongings they could carry. 

At dawn of this fateful day, these people were mercilessly driven by the thousands, towards the Austrian border, without food, water or medical assistance. They were flanked by armed guards, preventing any stopping and driving the people like a herd of cattle. Exhausted elderly were pushed into the roadside ditch to die and nobody was allowed to help them. The first stop was in the small town of Pohrlitz, where the majority of the deaths occurred.This town was completely unprepared for the onslaught of refugees. It was unfair for that town, to have to be faced with the odium of this inhumanity. Most of the people that died, succumbed to dysentery, brought on by hunger, stress and fatigue. Several hundreds died on the way to the Austrian border and over one thousand died upon reaching Austrian soil.

All citizens of Brno, whether they were of Czech or German nationality, lived a happy Easter in early April. But no one could have known that for most of  Brno Germans who stayed here, it was to be the last Easter in their homeland. Even before the war over 58,000 Germans has lived in Brno.

During the retreat of German troops about 60% of them left either voluntarily or in pursuant to the order Nero, Hitler issued, directing the departure of the Germans against advancing Soviet troops. The last special train with the Germans, who fled from the front, left Brno on April 18.

When the city was liberated April 26, 1945, in Brno remained about 25,000 Germans and we can say that those who stayed had a clear conscience. They said it: "Our family has been living here for generations, here I was born, I did not do anything to anyone, so what would happen to me?" A position, which was shortly afterwards to be bitterly regretted not knowing that the end would come to the German part of Brno. Most of them thought that the Czechs and Germans would live together after the war, will live again as before, as they had done so for centuries. Many were connected by marriage and ethnically mixed families spoke Czech and German. Also, most of the other participating members spoke both languages ​​perfectly. Czechs and Germans lived in Brno harmoniously side by side for centuries, and Brno had a bilingual culture.

 What the Reich and the Gestapo did to the Czechs, was suddenly blamed on the Germans and Brno. Systematic mongering Benes saw to it that all the hatred turned against the Germans, who stayed here. And they found themselves virtually unprotected, exposed to the unbridled vengeance. In accordance with the Benes words of collective guilt, they were sentenced  regardless of  guilt. It was enough they were German.

Their end came on the sad evening of 30 May 1945, when Germans who still remained in Brno - 20,000 women, children, invalids and elders, were expelled from their hometown.  The Brno death march was the so-called "wild expulsion". What happened in the following days in Brno, Pohořelice and on the way to the Austrian border, was marked as a crime against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide.

.In his speeches Benes did not appeal for restraint as a wise statesman but he urged  the collective disposal of all Germans. The floodgates opened, and the  the implementation of terrible revenge was put entirely in the hands of  a few perverted Czechs. Do you want German property? Go and take it! He will defend? Kill him! Go, choose a German woman and rape her! Everything is permitted! 

Excesses against the Germans reached drastic proportions. The order of the day was cruel sadistic torture. After the violent occupation of houses and looting houses, and there were rapes and murders. On the streets Germans were hunted down; many people were wounded, beaten, hanged, burned alive or shot. There were Czech witnesses of the German human torches. There were Germans in the street hanging upside down with lamps and gasoline burning below. Flogging their backs and pouring salt into the wounds. The executions also occurred in places of internment of Germans  and even the sick, wounded and disabled were not spared.

Various criminals, including wartime collaborators, gendarmes, soldiers Svoboda and others killed with enthusiasm, because they were guaranteed immunity by self-styled president Benes.

And the legendary Brno death march radiated long-suppressed hatred not only for the Nazis, who, moreover, did not attend the march at all, but especially for the German children, women and old people. In Brno, Germans were herded in concentration camps.

And there Benes' countrymen, tortured them, raped women and girls. Self-appointed guards showed the incredible brutality of the not only Czech but also of Russian soldiers. The surviving Germans remember that the Russians behaved more decently with German women, old men and children than the Bohemian civilians.

Mstitelům and self-styled Bohemian robbers managed to rid unwanted population. The people's courts of justice and self-appointed bailiffs tried Germans diligently in all towns and villages and executed them. They  committed other atrocities and brutality - torture, burning alive, electrocution, multiple rape. There were brutal beating with sticks of the German population, their gold teeth punched out, their naked bodies burnt. The Germans were beaten in the streets, beaten with sticks, shot, bayonets and dumped into the river. Gunmen of  the newly formed Red Guards ruthlessly tortured and murdered citizens of German nationality in internment camps.

Many camps became suppliers of women for an orgy of Soviet troops. People died from malnutrition, accidents, epidemics and violence. In all cases there was clearly organized violence and it was not just a case of isolated individuals acting against the excesses of the German population, as some historians try to downplay this period.

The Germans were robbed on the streets, guards conducted unlimited searches, looting, raping, shooting.  No wonder that this mass phenomenon in May and June led to  suicide amongst the Germans and their numbers increased with an increasing sense of danger. There were suicides, often of entire families.

There was brutal multiple rape of German women and girls, regardless of their age, health status and the presence of other persons, including children. Rychlokvašení Patriots hunted women and shipped them off to the Red Army soldiers to satisfy their low appetites.

The Germans in Kladno were subjected to the full severity of the Revolution from 5 May onwards. Erika Griessmann’s father was taken away and never returned. She herself was beaten for refusing to tell the RG where the family jewellery was buried.

A few days later she saw Germans being chased across a field like hares, gunned down by partisans with submachine guns. Her family was thrown out of their house on the 9th and made to run the gauntlet down their street while the crowd lashed out at them. She spotted some of their neighbours weeping at their windows at the sight.

They joined a group of refugees. Many of them were bloody, after Czechs had hurled grenades into their midst. For the second time the seventeen-year-old Erika heard that she and the better-looking Germans would be raped by the Russians. They apparently had first refusal. The Russians, however, treated her well. She fainted, and was pulled into a car by the hair. She woke on a sofa bound hand and foot. Five high-ranking Soviet officers asked her if she were hungry, and where she wanted to go. She said she wanted her mother. They took her to the football stadium where she found her mother and younger brother.

After threatening to shoot them all, Czechs took the Germans to Masshaupt where they had to stand in a ditch while a crowd spat on them and pelted them with stones. They were then returned to the football stadium on a lorry. There were German soldiers lying all around with bullet wounds in their stomachs and heads. Erika’s party were stripsearched and taken to a barracks. Bodies were strewn everywhere, even small children whose parents had cut their throats to save them from further tortures. 


Germans were beaten bloody with iron bars and lead pipes by a civilian mob and made to remove their shoes and run over broken glass.

Anna Seidel was a sixty-seven-year-old engineer’s widow living in Prague-Smichow. On the 9th she was rounded up with three other ladies, two of them of her age. They were robbed and beaten black and blue; their hair was shorn, their foreheads daubed with swastikas; they were then paraded through the streets on a lorry, shouting ‘My jsme Hitler-kurvy!’ (We are Hitler-whores!). If they did not shout loudly enough they were beaten again. After four weeks in Pankrác they were taken to Theresienstadt, where they remained for a year. Helene Bugner was taken away to Hagibor, which was seen as one of the better camps. From there she went to Kolin where the younger women were raped by Russians, some of them as many as forty-five times in a night. A Czech woman working for the Red Cross had set herself up as the talent-spotter. The women returned from these nightly sessions badly bitten by their paramours.


Many Germans spent a prolonged period in Pankrác Prison. Wagner claimed that a special treat for visiting Russian bigwigs was to be taken over the prison and witness a German being beaten to death. Another was to toss a prisoner from a second-floor parapet and shoot at him while he plummeted to the ground. Some boys from Reichenberg were accused of being Werewolves. They had to fight one another until they were bloody and then lick up the blood. When that resulted in vomiting, that too had to be licked up. When they had cleaned up the mess they were stripped and beaten with whips until the skin hung from their bodies. Then they were tossed into a cellar. Those who did not die from their wounds were later hanged.


Many witnesses attested to the stringing up and burning of Germans as ‘living torches’, not just soldiers but also young boys and girls. Most were SS men, but as the Czechs were not always too scrupulous about looking at the uniforms, a number of Wehrmacht soldiers perished in this way too. In part this savagery was a response to a rumour that the Germans had been killing hostages. There was reportedly a repeat performance on the day when Beneš finally arrived in Prague: Germans were torched in rows on lampposts.


In Landskron the fighting stopped on the 9 May. The Russian liberators were chiefly interested in the townswomen, whom they pursued into the night. There were few Czechs to speak of, and they were mainly concerned to protect their own property from plunder.

This idyll changed when on the 17th some lorry-loads of armed Czech partisans arrived. All the male German inhabitants were hunted into the main square. By the early afternoon there were as many as a thousand. The Czechs amused themselves by drilling them, forcing them to lie down and get up, all the while walking among them, spitting and kicking them in the groin and shins. Those who fell during this humiliation were taken to a water tank and drowned. Any who bobbed up were shot.

Meanwhile a ‘People’s Court’ had been established with a jury composed of local Czechs. The Germans had to crawl to the bench. Most of the men then had to run a 50–60 metre gauntlet. Many fell and were beaten to pulp. The next day the chaos 138 survivors were reassembled. One man was strung up from a lamppost. The court adjourned only when a horrified woman set fire to her house which threw the crowd into a panic. Twenty-four Germans had been killed. An even greater number committed suicide.

One wounded German officer had been in the Oko cinema since the 6 May. After helping tear down the barricades that day he was taken back to his temporary prison. There was no peace that night: the Russians and Czechs came for the women. Men who tried to protect them were beaten up, children who would not let go of their mothers’ skirts were dragged out with them and forced to watch. Several women tried to commit suicide. The officer remained in the cinema until Whitsun. That day the cries of tortured Germans coming from the Riding School mingled with the voices of churchgoers next door, ‘praying for mercy and neighbourly love’.

...three naked bodies hanging by their feet from a billboard. They had been covered with petrol and set alight, their faces punched in and the teeth knocked out – their mouths were just bloody holes.


Germans Killed and Expelled From Czechoslovakia After WW2

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Forced Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1950

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May 1945 - If hell on earth existed, than it existed in Prague after May the 5th. 1945. Old men, women and children were beaten to death and maimed. Rapes, barbaric cruelties, horror-scenarios of hellish proportions - here they had been let lose.

- Ludek Pachmann, Czech Chess-Grand Master and publicist, forty years after the fact.

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Paulus didn't give the order to 6th Army to surrender, but his troops no longer had much fight left in them. Resistance faded out over the next two days, with the last die-hards finally calling it quits. One Red Army colonel shouted at a group of prisoners, waving at the ruins all around them: "That's how Berlin is going to look!


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Points to Ponder: Why Is China Unstable?

The aim of individuals in any society is money and power. Societies that give equal chance to all its members to get them will be the most stable. That is why democracies are more stable than other systems of governance.

China after Deng's reform gave the chance to get rich but power is in the hands of an elite; the Communist Party of China. Membership to the party is at the whims of the local party bosses. This leaves out many people who crave political power dissatisfied and disgruntled. There in lies the roots of instability. The Party suppressed these demands once at Tiananmen in 1989. But force is hardly the way to deal with things like these.

READ MORE: Tiananmen Square Massacre