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Czechoslovakia (Transfer Of Germans)

Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 13 June 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the expulsion of the Sudeten Deutsch population from Czechoslovakia is a unilateral action on the part of the Czechoslovak Government; and whether it has the endorsement of the major Allied Governments.

His Majesty's Government have no detailed information as to the extent to which such, expulsion is taking place. They consider that the transfer, to whatever extent may be agreed on, of Germans from Czechoslovakia to Germany should be carried out in an orderly fashion as an integral part of the plans of the controlling Powers for the post-war settlement of Germany. They have made this view known to the other controlling Powers and to the Czechoslovak Government.

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take any steps in the matter, because, according to official information coming from Czechoslovakia, there is wholesale forcible transference of the Sudeten Deutsch population from Czechoslovakia? Is not such unilateral action dangerous, and should not action of this sort be taken by the Peace Conference?

I have made the attitude of the Government clear in my answer. With regard to wholesale evacuation of population to which the hon. Member refers, as far as I know, no such evacuation has taken place in the part of Czechoslovakia where United States troops are. As to the part where Soviet troops are, I have no confirmation of the reports.

Will it not be a great embarrassment to the Allied Powers in control of Germany if large numbers of Sudetenlanders are suddenly driven into Germany, possibly without even being allowed to bring their movable possessions with them; how in that case are their necessities to be provided for?

The point which the hon. Lady has raised is probably one of the reasons why we have adopted the attitude which I described in my original answer.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is not a unique transfer of population and that it has been done by the forcible removal of Bessarabians from Rumania into Soviet Russia?

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the distinction between those Sudetens who loyally supported the Czech Government against Hitler, and who were never Germans but were previously Austrian subjects, and those Germans who came into Bohemia from Germany?

It is not for me to bear it in mind, but I have no doubt that the Czechoslovak Government will do so.

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in close touch with Sudeten Germans in this country, to ascertain what is really going on?

Arising out of the original answer, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any transfers have already been agreed upon, and, if so, by whom?

The phrase I used was not "transfers that had been agreed upon," but "transfer to whatever extent may be agreed on." That gives the hon. Member the answer.