"It is a question of tactics": cooperation among Czech and Sudeten German Social Democrats in interwar Czechoslovakia
Kopecek, Herman Louis
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This study explores how and why the leadership of two working-class parties defused long-standing national enmities in order to forge a program that promoted solidarity at all levels of the Social Democratic movement, from cooperation in parliament down to the leisure-time activities of the rank and file. It examines the nexus of socialist tenets, national relations, and the realities of the domestic and international political landscapes. Although the focus is on leaders, every attempt is made to portray the attitude of ordinary workers toward the program of national harmony.The dissertation charts the process of cooperation through a period when the Social Democratic movement endured the dual problems of economic depression and burgeoning Nazism among disaffected members of Czechoslovakia's German-speaking population. The narrative ends shortly after the Munich Agreement, when the parties disbanded in deference to the Reich's hegemony over the rump state.Some authors have remarked that solidarity was a basic response to the politics of the republic's right-wing parties. However, my dissertation concludes that throughout most of this period the fundamental consideration for Social Democratic leaders was a perceived threat to democracy, and to their own hold on power, from forces on their left. The danger chiefly emanated from a left-wing opposition within each party that clamored for an anti-fascist united front with the Communists. Party leaders depended upon the program for cooperation largely as a means to undercut these detractors and prevent an alliance with the Communists, who always had pledged to infiltrate and take over Social Democratic organizations.Archival sources delineate party executives' decision-making processes, and the political and fraternal activities that manifested the unity program. The dissertation draws heavily on documentation found in government, police, and party archives in the Czech Republic. Publications of the Social Democratic parties also are used. The "voice" of the rank and file is discernible from sources such as police reports and working-class periodicals.
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