THE ZAOLZIE DISTRICT IN CZECH POLITICAL OPINION (1934-1938)
The beginning of 1934 signified growing interest on the part of the Polish authorities in the situation of the Polish minority in the Zaolzie (trans-Olza) district of Czechoslovakia. The foreseeable disintegration of Czechoslovakia was envisaged as an opportune circumstance for incorporating Zaolzie into Poland. For the time being, the Polish government demanded a guarantee of equal rights for the Polish minority. These calls were accompanied by an anti-Czech campaign initiated by the Polish press which, in turn, incited polemical commentaries in the press organs of assorted Czech political environments. The journals associated with the 'Hrad' group as well as the publications of the social-democrats and the peasant parties stressed the negative outcome for Poland of the territorial claims addressed to Czechoslovakia. The most vehement critical response to the Polish stand was made by the Czech national democrats. Nonetheless, aware of the threat posed by Germany, this party supported the retention of correct relations between Warsaw and Prague. A successive occasion for expressing opinions about the Zaolzie district was created by the anti-Czech demonstrations held in Poland in the summer of 1935. The Polish policy towards Czechoslovakia was criticised by the national socialists, the social-democrats, members of the peasant parties, the communists and even the pro-Polish supporters of the agrarian parties. The authorities in Warsaw were accused of firing irredentist strivings among the Polish minority and of hoping to incite an armed conflict with Czechoslovakia. In 1936, when the Czech authorities increased their harassment of the Polish minority, Czech political circles called for presenting the conflict caused by the Zaolzie district to the Council of the League of Nations or to reinitiate suitable negotiations. This attitude was influenced by French attempts at improving the relations between both states. In 1937, the interest of Czech political circles suddenly waned despite the fact that the government in Prague announced an improvement of the situation of the Polish minority. Greatest attention was paid to the Zaolzie question by the communists for the purposes of criticising Poland in accordance with directives received from Moscow. Even lesser interest was disclosed by Czech political opinion in 1938. At that time, all attention was concentrated on the postulates formulated by the German minority and the policy pursued by the Third Reich in relation to Czechoslovakia.
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