The Verneřice Putsch

Petr Klinovský

On 14 September 1938, a rebellion of the local German population againstthe Czechoslovak state power, now known as the Verneřice Putsch, broke out in the north Bohemian town of Verneřice. Around 9 p.m., Konrad Henlein’s followers sounded the church bells and a fire alarm that served as a signal to launch the attack. Within a few minutes, almost all male residents of the town gathered in the Verneřice square and, using their help, the gendarmerie station, the post office, the railway station and the German Social Democrats’ co-operative were occupied, and the Czech civil servants were imprisoned at the town hall, from where all were to be taken to Germany. This plan failed only thanks to the courage of two German Social Democrats, Josef Gaube and Oscar Schröfel, who managed to ride a bicycle for help in Těchlovice, 10 kilo- metres away. Despite the rapid reaction of the Czechoslovak army, the gendarmerie and the police, the main participants of the putsch managed to escape through Děčín to Germany, joining the Sudetendeutsches Freikorps. The Czechoslovak justice was not given the opportunity to punish them until after the end of the Second World War, when some of the culprits were arrested and brought before the Extraordinary People’s Court in Litoměřice.

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