An exhibit that was first shown in May 2007 in the Bavarian parliament is a possible centerpiece of the Sudeten-German Museum. It was initiated by the Sudeten-German Council, an institution that sees itself as being "above party lines" - half its members are chosen by the Sudeten-German Territorial Association, the other half from the parties in the German Federal Parliament. The exhibit received financial subventions from the state, particularly from the budget of the state of Bavaria. This exhibit was on display not only in Bavaria, but also in other states, including Baden Wuerttemberg (Stuttgart) and Hesse (Wiesbaden).
Munich Dictate: "Valid"
The exhibit revolves around internationally recognized declarations concerning the Munich Dictate (September 30, 1938) as well as the Peace Treaties concluding the First World War. The founding of Czechoslovakia was sealed with these peace treaties, the Munich Dictate - with the approval of Nazi Germany's taking control of the Sudeten Region - led to its temporary suspension. "Interesting, from the point of view of international law," one reads in the exhibit, "is that in the operative part of the agreement, there is no mention of 'cession' but rather of 'evacuation' of the border region." This choice of words hints that the "Sudetenland is interpreted as occupied territory, that had never been a legitimate part of Czechoslovakia." Seen in this light, the lack of Prague's signature on the Munich Dictate would not impinge upon "the validity of the agreement." The argumentation about the alleged validity of the Munich Dictate calls to mind that no West German government has ever characterized the dictate as "null and void from the outset."
The organizers of the Munich exposition openly place the legitimacy of the founding of Czechoslovakia into question. They claim that the Prague government's measures to stabilize the new state in 1919, were aimed at "occupying the Sudeten territory", an expression normally used to describe the Wehrmacht's invasion into the neighboring country in early 1938. They write that with these measures in 1919, the Prague government violated the "International Convention Concerning the Law and Customs of War on Land concluded in 1907." While characterizing measures to stabilize the Czechoslovak state as war crimes, the organizers of the exposition praise the laws on minorities of the Habsburg Empire, which collapsed in 1918. Concerning Czechoslovakia, they speak of the "discrimination of Sudeten Germans", using historical references, submitted to the public without comment, including a 1936 document published in Carlsbad and Leipzig by the Karl Hermann Frank Publishing House. A few years later, Frank became a member of the inner circle of the Nazi rulers of the Prague protectorate.
Attacks on the Czechoslovak post war legislation supplement the attacks on Prague and the Paris Peace Treaties. Of the Beneš Decrees, which have constitutional status in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, one reads: "Not all of the Decrees' provisions are in violation of international law." Verbal attacks are particularly directed at those Beneš Decrees regulating the expropriation and expulsion of Nazi collaborators and profiteers. The organizers of the exposition are obviously convinced that reparations must be paid to the expellees and the expropriated or their descendants. There are numerous abandoned villages in the Czech Republic that expelled Germans could take over, they say.
The invectives are not only directed at international law but also at Prague, particularly at the former Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš. He is accused of "grave errors" for saying - during his exile in London - that "the Nazis treated Jews and Slavs similarly or in the same manner". The organizers of the Munich exposition are accusing Beneš of complicity in the death of hundreds of thousands of European Jews: "It was also because of this false information that the Western allies failed to provide even simple aid to the persecuted Jews - for example granting refugees unlimited admission or bombing the routes leading to the concentration camps."
The Sudeten German Museum that could house the exposition should be constructed at a "central location of urban development in Munich". It is sponsored by the "Sudeten German Foundation," that was created though the financial support of various state administrations, including the federal government. In the description of the Museum, one reads that "particularly the second and third generation of the Sudeten Germans and Czechs" - in other words those who were born long after resettlement - should be exposed to the historical events. The memory of resettlement is to be kept alive - even if the resettled have long since died. This revisionist project is using the resettled to maintain state claims on the Czech Republic even with a European camouflage: "As a centre for cooperation in central Europe," the planned museum "could serve European integration."