Sudeten Germans in Canada - Tomslake, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 55° 33.563 W 120° 05.063
10U E 683875 N 6160902
Quick Description: At the northern edge of the tiny community of Tomslake stands a Roman Catholic Church, its cemetery, a small museum, and a memorial to the Sudeten German refugees who founded the community.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 6/30/2021 2:30:16 PM
Waymark Code: WM14FRE
Views: 0

Long Description:
This is a two part memorial, comprised of a pair of stone steles, one of fieldstone with an angled face holding a large bronze plaque containing the names of the 518 refugees who founded and settled the community of Tomslake. The other, a truncated obelisk of smoothed river rock, has on one face this smaller bronze plaque, relating the story of the migration of the Sudeten Germans to Tomslake, while atop is a sculpture of a refugee family, newly arrived in Canada with their single, battered suitcase. The memorial stands between the Tomslake Catholic Church and the church's cemetery.

In 1939 a group of Social Democratic Sudeten German refugees from the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia arrived in Canada. Betrayed by the international community, abandoned by the Czechoslovakian government, the refugees were then more or less also abandoned by the Canadian government. Though originally urban dwellers who manned large factories in Czechoslovakia, they were forced to settle on farmland in the Peace Country of northeastern British Columbia. With little assistance from either federal or provincial governments, they managed to survive, then thrive, solely through hard work and perseverance.

Prior to the onset of World War II, Nazi Germany had forced Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany. There had been ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland since the 12th century, most having retained their language and culture, remaining essentially apart from Czechoslovak culture. With annexation of the Sudetenland imminent, many Sudeten Germans aligned themselves with the Nazis, setting themselves up to extreme reprisals by the Czechs after the war. The Social Democrats, however, were adamantly opposed to the Nazis, many of them seeing their only avenue to survival being emigration to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, or Scandinavia. Regrettably, however, the Social Democrats who remained after the war were treated the same as were all Sudeten Germans, regardless of their affiliations or beliefs.

Of some 80,000 social democrats in Czechoslovakia, only about 5,000 would manage to flee the Nazis. The rest were incarcerated, and many of them were executed. Many of those who survived the Nazi persecution were later expelled, together with other Sudeten Germans, on the basis of Beneš decrees, a series of laws drafted by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in the absence of the Czechoslovak parliament during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II.

As a result of the Beneš decrees, almost all ethnic Germans and Hungarians whose ancestors had lived in Czechoslovakia for centuries prior to World War II or those who had settled there during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia lost their Czechoslovakian citizenship and property and were expelled from their homes. [Many] of them died during the expulsion process which took place during the late 1940s.
From Wiki
Following is text transcribed from a bronze plaque mounted on the monument.
This monument stands in the honour of the Sudeten German Social Democratic refugees who came to Canada in 1939. In their homeland they kept their faith in freedom and democracy against truly overwhelming odds. Abandoned by the signatories of the infamous Munich Agreement September 29, 1938 to a fate of persecution, imprisonment, torture and possible death in the Nazi concentration camps of the Third Reich, they were among the fortunate who escaped and found asylum in Canada. Of the 1024 Sudeten German refugees Canada accepted, 518 were delivered to the small hamlet of Tupper, now Tomslake. Since their arrival they have worked with their fellow Canadians in building a greater and better land. They have earned acceptance and respect.
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Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: Other

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Large yard surrounds the memorial

What Agency placed the marker?: The Community of Tomslake

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