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Prague in Black

Prague in Black

Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism

Chad Bryant

ISBN 9780674034594

Publication date: 09/30/2009

In September 1938, the Munich Agreement delivered the Sudetenland to Germany. Six months later, Hitler’s troops marched unopposed into Prague and established the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia—the first non-German territory to be occupied by Nazi Germany. Although Czechs outnumbered Germans thirty to one, Nazi leaders were determined to make the region entirely German.

Chad Bryant explores the origins and implementation of these plans as part of a wider history of Nazi rule and its consequences for the region. To make the Protectorate German, half the Czech population (and all Jews) would be expelled or killed, with the other half assimilated into a German national community with the correct racial and cultural composition. With the arrival of Reinhard Heydrich, Germanization measures accelerated. People faced mounting pressure from all sides. The Nazis required their subjects to act (and speak) German, while Czech patriots, and exiled leaders, pressed their countrymen to act as “good Czechs.”

By destroying democratic institutions, harnessing the economy, redefining citizenship, murdering the Jews, and creating a climate of terror, the Nazi occupation set the stage for the postwar expulsion of Czechoslovakia’s three million Germans and for the Communists’ rise to power in 1948. The region, Bryant shows, became entirely Czech, but not before Nazi rulers and their postwar successors had changed forever what it meant to be Czech, or German.


  • Nazi Germany’s bestial cartography divided Czechoslovakia into the incorporated territories, including the Sudetenland, a ‘neutral’ Slovakia, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which were the core Czech lands. Bryant writes well about misery in the last—about, in particular, the deadly essay of the Germans and their local marionettes to apply madcap ethnic and national concepts to what had long been a hopelessly complex checkerboard of identities.

    —Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs


  • 2008, Winner of the Hans Rosenberg Book Prize


  • Chad Bryant is the author of Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism, winner of the Hans Rosenberg Book Prize. He is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Humanities Center.

Book Details

  • 384 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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