Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

For Nation and Gain: Economy, Ethnicity and Politics in the Czech Borderlands, 1945-1948.

Gerlach, David (2007) For Nation and Gain: Economy, Ethnicity and Politics in the Czech Borderlands, 1945-1948. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (2MB) | Preview


FOR NATION AND GAIN: ECONOMY, ETHNICITY AND POLITICS IN THE CZECH BORDERLANDS, 1945-1948David Gerlach, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh, 2007This dissertation investigates the post-World War II expulsion of approximately three million Sudeten Germans from the Czech borderlands and the settlement of nearly two million Czechs and others in their place. While studies of the Sudeten German expulsions and of ethnic cleansing generally focus on violent conflict, I argue that officials' and settlers' efforts to control confiscated German property and labor overwhelmingly shaped the economic, ethnic and political transformations of the borderlands. I examine the actions of and debates within local governments, called national committees, as well as their interaction with central government organs from 1945 to 1948. Expulsion, confiscation and settlement created competing objectives in the borderlands. During the summer of 1945, military units and national committees began expelling Germans and seizing their property. While the army prosecuted expulsions, and plundered in the process, national committees strove to manage expulsions and settlement to benefit their communities, for example, attempting to retain German workers for local production. Despite these committees' efforts to stabilize the borderlands, widespread looting and the settlers' quest for social mobility precluded order. Material gain was often more the goal than the physical removal of Germans. Thus Czechs worked with Germans to find and seize property, and they fought with other Czechs over the spoils. In addition to local conflicts, expulsion and settlement spurred disputes between Prague and borderland officials, and among political parties. The confiscation of Sudeten German property dovetailed with the Communist-dominated government's land reform and nationalization policies. The Communist Party utilized the distribution of confiscated German farms to win political support in the borderlands, and it allocated confiscated factories to nationalized enterprises. However, the Party's efforts to consolidate and liquidate borderland industries faced considerable resistance from national committees even after it took over the state in 1948. While this dissertation studies the economic motives and imperatives that drove ethnic cleansing in postwar Czechoslovakia, its significance extends to other cases of forced migration in which property confiscation and labor issues played central roles.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gerlach, Daviddwgst11@pitt.eduDWGST11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLivezeanu, Irinairinal@pitt.eduIRINAL
Committee MemberGerlach, H Christianhcg3@pitt.eduHCG3
Committee MemberPrizel,
Committee MemberWingfield,
Committee MemberTroesken, Wernertroesken@pitt.eduTROESKEN
Committee MemberChase, Williamwchase@pitt.eduWCHASE
Date: 20 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 February 2007
Approval Date: 20 June 2007
Submission Date: 24 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Communist Party of Czechoslovakia; forced migration; state formation; Sudetenland; Volksdeutsche
Other ID:, etd-04242007-204032
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item