Czechoslovakia. ( point of view!)

As a result of the Battle of the White Mountain (1620) the Czech nobility was almost completely wiped out and replaced by German Catholic landlords. Thus, when the Czechoslovak Republic was established, there were German landlords and Czech peasants in the Czech areas, and in the Sudetenland - the Border area - mainly German peasants and German landlords. In Slovakia (taken from the Hungarian part of the Hapsburg Empire) there were Magyar landlords and Slovak peasants, and, in the region bordering on Hungary, Hungarian peasants and Hungarian landlords. So that here, the land question and the national question were one, as in other parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire: Magyar landlords exploited Slovak, Rumanian, Croat and Ruthenian peasants; German landlords exploited Czech, Ruthenian, Slovene and Polish peasants.

In 1919 the Land Reform Act was passed. It provided for the dividing up of all large estates of more than 100 hectares. But this law was only partially and half-heartedly carried out. Yet, as a result of the land reform, 1.7 million hectares, or 12 per cent of the area of Czechoslovakia, were expropriated, and by 1 January, 1937, 1,272,934 hectares had been redistributed. At the same time in 1930, 13.8 per cent of the agricultural area still remained in properties of over 100 hectares. It was mainly Hungarian and German landlords who were expropriated, but the German and Hungarian peasants, tenants and agricultural workers not only were not excluded, but even benefited from the redistribution. As Miss L.E. Texter writes: “The German farmer received land even from a Czech landowner”. (Land Reform in Czechoslovakia, London, 1923, quoted by E. Wiskemann, Czechs and Germans, London, 1938, p.152).

In 1945 (as a result of the decrees of 19.5.45, 21.6.45, 20.7.45 and 3.9.45) an area of 2.6 million hectares was taken from Germans, landlords and peasants alike. Practically no land belonging to non-Germans was touched in Bohemia and Moravia. As a result of the agrarian reform in Slovakia, three hundred thousand hectares were expropriated, of which two-thirds belonged to Hungarians and Germans.

For two years the property of Czech and Slovak landowners was left untouched by the government. Land reform was identified with the national struggle of all the Slavs - Czechs and Slovaks alike - against all the Germans and Hungarians.

Later on it was necessary to reduce the maximum holding in order to pave the way for the total annihilation of the bourgeoisie in Czechoslovakia, and the integration of Czechoslovakia in the Russian Empire. On July 11, 1947, the maximum of 100 hectares fixed in 1919 was reduced to 50 hectares, and as a result another 919 thousand hectares were redistributed.

Thus until July, 1947, land redistribution was aimed at achieving an internal colonisation by the expropriation of “foreign” proprietors, and the extent of the second wave of land redistribution was only about a quarter of the first.


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