The Deportation of Sudeten Germans: a Forgotten Tragedy

Commemoration of the Victims of the Benes Decrees in the Church of Homecoming

Sudeten Germans deported and slaughtered following the introduction of the Benes Decrees in Czechoslovakia were commemorated in the Church of Homecoming on Sunday, 27 June. The Benes Decrees came into force between 14 May and 27 October 1945. Out of the 143 discriminatory decrees, denouncing both Germans and Hungarians as collectively guilty, 13 directly and 20 indirectly affected the two ethnicities.

The many million Sudeten Germans deported from Czechoslovakia, as well as the exiled victims were commemorated in a Sunday service celebrated in the Church of Homecoming in Budapest. The representatives of the deported Sudeten Germans also took part in the ceremony.

The retired bishop Lóránt Hegedűs stressed that after the II World War many million innocent Germans had to leave their homes as they were labelled as a collectively guilty nation. As opposed to the imprisoned, the persecuted have the freedom of movement, however they are deprived of security by losing their home and nest. This results in the state of hopelessness, he added.

Reverend Lóránt Hegedűs jr. pointed out that it is the sin of Europe that even today the European Union does not officially commemorate some of the most shameful tragedies, amongst others the horror of the deportations of the Sudeten Germans. It is sad that none of the Hungarian churches, and also within the Calvinist community only the Church of Homecoming remembered the victims of the deportations and celebrated a Sunday service in remembrance, he pointed out.         

In his speech of commemoration Márton Gyöngyösi, an MP of the Hungarian political party Jobbik, vice-president of the Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, touched upon the long decades of silence in Hungary, when the tragic fate of the Sudeten Germans, the Hungarian and the German victims of the Benes Decrees and the deportations of ethnic Germans living in Hungary for centuries, were prohibited topics. The politician rejected the wide-spread politics of double standards in today’s Europe, which declares as absolute the sufferings of one nation and thereby relativises all other tragedies. Remembering the 18 million German victims, out of which 2 million were killed and 16 million deported and exiled between 1944 and 1948, is a long-outstanding liability of European nations, he added. He declared: as a politician he and his party will continue to strive against the silence surrounding the shameful tragedies of history. The sufferings of the Sudeten Germans, as well as the deportations of Hungarians will yet have to gain their position in the collective national remembrance, he added.                   

Horst Rudolf Übelacker and Erich Högn took part on the commemoration as the representatives of the Sudeten German victims of the deportations. In their speech of honour they expressed their gratitude to all Hungarians and the community of the Church of Homecoming for their support in the tragedy of their people. They highlighted that numerous European countries still today do not remember the tragedy of Germans as they judge the events of the past and the innocent victims on the basis of collective guilt.   

Following the service the community wreathed the memorial plaque commemorating the 1944-45 terror against Hungarians, the victims of the 1947 Paris peace-dictate, and the German victims deported and exiled from their homeland in 1944-48.