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Jews in Modern Europe Study Group

From Assimilation to Elimination: The Exclusion of Jews from Czech Society in the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia


March 27, 2017
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Goldman Room, Busch Hall
March 27, 2017
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Goldman Room, Busch Hall

In 1938 the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia were full and free citizens of a democratic Czechoslovak Republic. In the country’s western regions Jews lived interspersed among gentiles and intermarried to a degree greater than anywhere else at that time. Despite the relatively low level of public antisemitism and the extraordinarily high degree of integration, after the German occupation of March 1939 the Nazis met little resistance in their mission to destroy the Jewish community through forced emigration abroad and mass deportation to ghettos and killing centers. Before the transports commenced the occupation authorities and local Czech officials isolated the region’s Jews through a regime of more and more repressive sanctions which deprived them of their civic rights, property, and freedoms of association, movement, and religion. Officials first restricted and then barred Jews from libraries, public baths, parks, pubs, and eventually from certain streets, their homes, and even entire towns. Other measures included greater and greater limits on shopping for food and other goods, humiliating restrictions on riding public transportation, and blanket prohibitions on using radios, telephones and bicycles. Jewish adults lost their jobs and were kicked out of civic organizations; their children were expelled from the schools.Based on new research in archives in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, this presentation explores how local Jews and gentiles responded to the imposition of antisemitic persecution and seeks to answer how a community so well integrated could be so thoroughly eliminated with so few acts of opposition and rescue.

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