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The Czech autonomy movement refers to a disparate movement centered in the Großgermanian provinces of East and West Moravia, Northern Bohemia, and Southwestern Bohemia, which aims to promote the status of Czech people within Großgermania, and often within the Kingdom of Germany, by constitutionally establishing the autonomy of Czechia.
Historical Significance Edit
The Czech lands were first united as a march under the Frank Samo in 623. This state fell quickly after his death in 658, and the decline in the east thereafter of the Frankish Empire, from which most Western European records of the time originate, means not much is known about the area for over a century thereafter. However, Moravia became an independent principality sometime in the late eighth century, and Mojmír I united it with the conquered Principality of Nitra, based in modern-day Slovakia, to form the Greater Moravian Empire in 833.
The dissolution of the Moravian-Nitran union in the late ninth century saw Bohemia gain significant autonomy, eventually becoming an independent state of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Ruled intermittently by Polish and German royalty, the rise of the Hapsburgs in the Austrian Empire saw the consolidation of Austrian power over the territory at the Congress of Vienna. Following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, most Czech territory was represented within the Austro-Hungarian Empire as the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Moravia, and the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia. After the Empire's defeat in the First World War, the three regions united with part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and declared independence as the Czechoslovak Republic, forming the first modern Czech state.
The country was divided, first in 1938 and again in 1939, losing territory to the Großdeutsches Reich, the Kingdom of Hungary, and Poland under the terms of the Munich Agreement, before Slovak independence was asserted by Germany and the Czech rump state was subjugated as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Having escaped annexation into "Greater Germany", Czech resistance to German occupation was minimal, and the country benefited from economic reforms imposed by the German government.
Prague was liberated during the last battle of the Second World War, which ended thee days after the capitulation of the German government in Flensburg. Czecholsovakia reunited, but a pro-Stalinist coup d'état in 1948 saw the extension of the Soviet sphere of influence over the country until 1990 and the emergence of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. The union was dissolved in 1992–1993 and an independent Czech state, the Czech Republic, was formed.
Independence and the German Annexation Edit
The Czech Republic evolved into a parliamentary republic and a welfare state. Slovak was retained as an official language. Despite being more developed than Slovakia, the Czech Republic experienced relative economic stagnation from its independence onward. Czech–German relations developed during this period, with Czech ascension to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and both countries' joining of the European Union.
In 2007, Russian troops invaded Ukraine and Belarus, reasserting sovereignty over both these countries. With the effective collapse of the Slovak government, the Czech Republic appealed to the Federal Republic of Germany for protection in case of a Russian occupation of Slovakia. This culminated in the Prague Declaration, with German Chancellor Michael von Preußen guaranteeing both Czech and Slovak independence. In exchange, the Czech Republic agreed to hold elections in August 2007, in which the Czech Monarchist Workers' Coalition (Czech: České Monarchistická Dělnické Koalice, ČMDK), a Czech National Unionist party established by the German National Unionist Party, came to power.
The Czech Republic joined the Association of Germanic States in January 2008. Initial motions to unite the association into a single state proposed Czechia be placed on par with other member entities; however, disagreements over governmental structure saw these proposals fall through. By early October 2008, Russian incursions into Slovak territory had become routine, as Germany's promise to defend Slovak independence was hampered by the lack of a functioning Slovak government. German troops were stationed in the Czech Republic beginning on 14 October, and Czech representatives to the Germanic Council opted to accept German governmental control under a new Germanic state.
The Kraków Conference, which began on 28 November, saw representatives of the Association of Germanic States, the Russian Government, and the European Union meet in an attempt to secure peace in Eastern and Central Europe. Although the Conference initially made very little progress, the Treaty of Kraków saw the formation of Großgermania, the union of the Baltic states under Borwin of Mecklenburg as the Baltic Duchy, and the guarantee of Polish independence. The Treaty contained a clause which united the Czech Republic with Germany, "subject to the will of the Czech [sic] and Moravian people".
Development and Aspects of Czech Autonomy Proposals Edit
Since the July War and the relegation of Russian influence in Eastern Europe to Romania and the eastern Balkans, Czech dependence on German protection has steadily decreased. While virtually no proposals for Czech autonomy seek complete independence from Großgermania, discontent with direct German rule under the House of Prussia has led many Czechs to desire greater autonomy within the Großgermanian federation. The two main proposals for Czech autonomy differ in opinion over whether to seek status as a Constituent Country of Großgermania independent from the Kingdom of Germany, or whether to seek greater regional unity and autonomy while remaining subject to the German crown. These two schools of thought are commonly referred to as secessionist and anti-secessionist parties by the Großgermanian media.
Proposals for Czechia to become a constituent country of Großgermania are rooted in negotiations to that effect carried out by the Association of Germanic States in 2008, prior to the Unification of Germania. Citing the Treaty of Kraków's article regarding the inclusion of the Czech Republic in Germany, proponents of secessionism argue that their inclusion in Germany may be overturned if a majority of the Czech population decides such by referendum. Proposals for secession from Germany are hampered by disputes over whether a republican government (such as that of Helvetica or Alsace-Lorraine) or a monarchical government should be adopted by the new region.
Although most proponents of anti-secessionist autonomy desire constitutional amendment to secure greater autonomy for the Czechs, proponents of the proposal hold a distinct advantage over secessionists as such an amendment would not be required for autonomy to be granted. Under the Constitution, the King of Germany holds absolute political power within the Kingdom, with the German Witenagemot holding economic power therein. As such, autonomy could theoretically be granted to the Czechs without the approval of the Reichstag or the Imperial Witenagemot, and would, therefore, be easier to obtain than full status as a Constituent Country.
In contrast to the secessionist movement, the overwhelming majority of anti-secessionist advocates are in favor of the restoration of the Czech monarchy, and a large portion of the anti-secessionist movement were former members of the ČMDK. Internal division of anti-secessionist autonomists does exist, however: who the legal claimant to the throne of Bohemia, and thus of Czechia, is hotly contested by Czech monarchists. See List of rulers of Bohemia for further information.
Current Status Edit
On 12 May 2010, a petition was delivered to Emperor Michael von Preußen, the Reichstag, and the Witenagemot, asking them to investigate the possibility of passing amendments to the Constitution of Großgermania to allow for greater Czech autonomy. The petition, which was ratified by the provincial assemblies of the four Czech provinces, as well as being signed by a majority of the Czech members of the German Witenagemot, numerous non-governmental organizations, as well as over a million citizens of Czech nationality or living in the Czech provinces, does not specify whether a secessionist or anti-secessionist approach is preferred by the signatories. On 20 May, the Office of the Emperor issued a press release stating that he would be taking the petition seriously, and that he planned to meet with Czech Reichstag members in the following week to discuss possibilities for greater Czech autonomy.
The meeting occurred on 26 May at the Imperial Palace. In addition to Czech Reichstag members, the four Czech representatives to the German Witenagemot attended, as did the Chancellors of the Bohemian and Moravian provinces. Although the meeting itself was held in curia, none of the attendees were barred from discussing the meeting publicly, and several of the participants later issued press releases regarding it. The meeting produced no consensus on the future of Czechia or Czech autonomy, though numerous proposals were discussed. Northern Bohemian Chancellor and former Czech President and Prime Minister Václav Klaus expressed concern over Michael von Preußen's insistence upon the historical significance of the Sudetenland to the German people, despite its having been depopulated of its German inhabitants following the Second World War.
Liechtenstein Plan Edit
On 31 May, the first meeting of the entire Imperial Council and interested Czech advocates was held in Prague, and the minutes of the meeting were published in the Imperial Observer the following day. Several Czech politicians present walked out of the meeting following comments made by Minister for National Unity and Großgermanian Heritage Wenzeslaus von Liechtenstein und Rietberg which decried forced expulsion and execution of Czechoslovak Germans following the Second World War as a crime against humanity. Liechtenstein argued that because of this, while establishing Czech autonomy was important under the Treaty of Kraków, land today populated by Czechs which was forcibly seized from German owners should not be included in any plan for establishing such autonomy.
Von Liechtenstein's proposal for establishing Czech autonomy is anti-secessionist. In his continuation of his statement, he proposed that areas of Czechia which were depopulated of Germans in the late 1940s be separated from the current four Czech provinces to form a new Sudeten province. The territorial boundaries of the remaining Czech territory would be redrawn to consolidate exclaves created by the Sudeten separation, though von Liechtenstein did not propose any similar measures to consolidate the three separated areas of the proposed Sudeten province itself. The four Czech provinces would then be placed under political control of a Czech monarch, with the legitimate successor to the Bohemian throne to be determined by a committee appointed by the Ministry for Großgermanian Heritage.
Unlike the autonomous status of the Kanarische Inseln, which is not subject even to laws passed by the Imperial Government, von Liechtenstein's proposal would not grant complete autonomy to Czechia. Laws passed by both the German and Großgermanian crowns would continue to override Czech legislation. Furthermore, Czechia would not have its own economic council, and would not send a delegate to the Imperial Witenagemot. Instead, it would continue to send delegates to the German Witenagemot.
7 June Referendum Edit
Following von Liechtenstein's statement to the 31 May meeting, the remaining Czech delegates agreed to put the motion to a referendum in the affected territories one week following the meeting. Public reaction in the Czech provinces upon the publication of the meeting's minutes was mixed. While areas slated to be included in the Sudetenland province overwhelmingly opposed the motion, with protests taking place across the territory, informal opinion polls taken in areas which would be granted autonomy under the Liechtenstein Plan—including the two largest Czech cities—showed a significantly divided population where a large portion of those surveyed agreed that "částečná suverenita" (English: "partial sovereignty", the name adopted to refer to the Liechtenstein Plan by Czech media outlets) was an acceptable solution to the Czech autonomy debate.
On 6 June, the Office of the Greffier announced that the referendum agreed upon by the meeting would not include the Sudetenland, which the Interior Ministry deemed unaffected, since it would not be included in the Liechtenstein Plan for establishing an autonomous Czech government. The referendum was held on 7 June in the other Czech areas. With a voter turnout of approximately 57% of the population, the motion to establish an autonomous Czechia under the Liechtenstein Plan passed referendum, with 69% of the voting population supporting the proposal.
Despite opposition to the plan by Czech residents of the Sudetenland, the success of the 7 June referendum paved the way for the creating of an autonomist Czechia within the Kingdom of Germany. As an anti-secessionist proposal, constitutional amendment is not required for the implementation of the Liechtenstein Plan. However, many advocates of the proposal seek such constitutionalization, as it guarantees the perpetuity of Czech sovereignty, regardless of the stance of the German monarch. On 13 June, Michael von Preußen instructed von Liechtenstein to proceed with the appointment of a committee to determine the legal successor to the Bohemian throne. Ministerpräsident Horst Köhler delivered copies of the Czech Autonomy Act (German: Tschechische Autonomiegesetz), his proposal to amend the Constitution of Großgermania in line with the Liechtenstein Plan, to von Preußen, the Reichstag, and the Witenagemot later that day.
The Emperor issued his intent to ratify the Czech Autonomy Act 15 June, and the Witenagemot approved the amendment two days later. A final vote of the Reichstag is expected to occur on 29 June.