Demographic History of Bohemia

Note : this page is conceived telegram-style and selective (lists of wars deemed destructive, lists of epidemic diseases, years of famine etc.)

Aging Society
Due to a decrease in the birth rate and increasing life expectancy, since the 1960es the average age of the Czech citizen has gradually increased.

Deportation & Genocide
Episodic expulsion of Jews
1620-1775 : Expulsion of Protestants (at first, of teachers and priests)
1745-1748 : Explusion of the Jews from Prague
1938-1945 : Deportation of Bohemian Jews. mostly to German Concentration Camps in Poland
1938-1945 : Deportation of Bohemian Gypsies, mostly to German Concentration Camps in Poland
1945-1948 : Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans

Emigration to the U.S.A. (since 1870), with peaks in the late 19th century, the early 1920es, the late 1940es

Ethnic or Religious Minorities : Gypsies
In 19th century France, Gypsies were identified with Bohemia to such an extent that the term "Bohemien" came to describe French artist conceived to life a Gypsy-like lifestyle. The first Gypsies arrived in Bohemia in the 15th century. The German authorities, in the Sudetenland 1938-1945, in occupied core Bohemia and Moravia 1939-1945, pursued a policy of genocide against the country's Gypsy population.

Historic Ethnic or Religious Minorities : Sudeten Germans
Descendents of agrarian and urban settlers called into the country in the 13th to 15th centuries. The Bohemian Germans, for the larger part, maintained their ethnic German identity. Few ethnic Germans joined the Hussite movement; later, Lutheranism spread among Bohemia's Germans, less among the Czechs. The Habsburg revenge and the Catholic Counterreformation, after 1620, hit Bohemia's Czechs harder than the country's Germans. The 19th century saw a rift develop between political organizations representing the country's German and Czech population. In 1918 Bohemia's Germans found themselves reduced to an ethnic minority in a state where Czech was the official language; the political organizations representing Bohemia's Germans had opted for remaining with Austria. In 1938 Czechoslovakia was coerced into ceding the Sudetenland to Germany. Many Sudeten Germans served in the German army or were members of German political organizations. Upon liberation in 1945, the mass of Bohemia's Germans, as well as of those of Moravia and formerly Austrian Silesia (overall c. 3 million), were forcibly expelled; most of them settled in the FRG. Today, 0.4 % of the population of the Czech Republic is listed as German.

Historic Ethnic or Religious Minorities : Jews
The presence of Jews in Prague is recorded for 970 A.D. Pogroms against the city's Jews are recorded for 1096, 1142, 1389. In the 16th century, Prague attracted Jewish refugees from elsewhere, and the Jewish ghetto was established. The Jewish community, one of the largest in Europe, enjoyed religious toleration until 1745, when Prague's Jews were expelled again. During the rule of Joseph II. (1780-1790) Jews again moved to Prague; from c. 1830 to c. 1870 Bohemia's Jews assimilated into German culture, and some converted to Catholicism. In 1849 they were granted emancipation; the ghetto was dissolved in 1852.
The German authorities, in the Sudetenland 1938-1945, in occupied core Bohemia and Moravia 1939-1945, pursued a policy of genocide against the country's Jewish population; of 92,000 Jews living in the occupied Czech lands (Bohemia, Moravia) in 1939, 13,000 survived the war. During the Holocaust, Terezin (Theresienstadt) functioned as a transit camp; from there the surviving Jews were sent on to the death camps in German-administrated Poland.

Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
1348 Bubonic Plague
1380 Bubonic Plague
1431-1434 Typhoid Plague
1680 Plague
Early 1780es
1832 Cholera
1866 Cholera
1918 Spanish Influenza

1282 Great Famine
1366 Great Famine
1431-1434 Famine
1679 Famine
1771 Great Famine
1845ff Potato Famine
1866 Famine caused by the War
1914-1918 Food Shortage in WW I
1939-1945 Food Shortage in WW II

Labour Migration : Immigration
13th to 15th centuries : German peasants, craftsmen, miners
1620ff : German, Italian Catholic nobles
1960es-1980es : Trainees from Vietnam, Mongolia, Cuba, Angola, Poland

Labour Migration : Emigration
from early 19th century onward : emigration of Czechs to the U.S.

Political Refugees : Emigrants
Bohemian Jews, exposed to ostracism, anti-Semitism and episodically to pogroms
1620- Protestants (Bohemian Brethren; Czech, German Lutherans)
1939-1945 Czechs fleeing German occupation
1945-1989; especially 1948 and 1968 Czechs fleeing Communism

Political Refugees : Immigrants
Jews, exposed elsewhere to ostracism, anti-Semitism and episodically to pogroms
1933-1939 German Jews, Social Democrats, Intellectuals (B. Brecht, H. Mann)

Population Statistics
First conducted in the Habsburg lands in 1754. Laws on population censi 1857, 1869; censi conducted 1869, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910, in Czechoslovakia in 1930, 1981, 1991

Rural Population
Early Middle Ages : Slavic settlement of Bohemia, entirely rural. 13th/14th century : immigration of ethnic German farmers who cleared land, established new villages, brought with them improved farming techniques. A period of sustained population growth 1200 to c.1400, then stagnation until into the late 18th century. Again sustained population growth due to the Agricultural Revolution (potato). With the beginning industrialization and the abolition of serfdom 1849, migration of Czech villagers into the cities, or even abroad.

Prague, seat of a bishop since 970, was an early urban center. From 1200 onward, a number of cities (towns with the status of a city) emerged, mostly founded by immigrant German settlers, some of them mining towns. During Hussitism, Tabor became the center of the radical faction (Taborites). In the 19th century (Industrialization) the cities experienced immigration; this phenomenon, in combination with an extension of the franchise, resulted in a number of cases in the shift from a German-dominated administration to a Czech-dominated administration. The elimination of the country's mainly urban Jewish community during the Holocaust (1938-1945) and the expulsion of the country's ethnic German population 1945-1948 greatly changed the character of Bohemia's cities. However, Bohemia's cities suffered comparatively little destruction during World War II.

Volunteers in foreign Wars
1918-1919 : Czechoslovak Legion, in the Russian Civil War

Wartime Destruction : Battlefield Bohemia
1420-1433 : Hussite Wars
1433-1434 : Hussite Civil War
1448-1452 : Bohemian Troubles
1464-1471 : Bohemian Troubles
1465-1478 : Bohemian-Hungarian War
1546-1547 : Schmalkaldic War
1618-1648 : Thirty Years War
1680 : Peasants War
1740-1748 : War of Austrian Succession
1756-1763 : Seven Years War
1775 : Peasants War
1778-1779 : War of Bavarian Succession
1792-1813 : Wars of the Coalitiions
1848 : Prague Revolution
1866 : Seven Weeks War
1938 : German annexation of the Sudetenland
1939 : German occupation of core Bohemia and Moravia
1945 : Liberation
1968 : Invasion of Warsaw Pact forces

Article Demographics of the Czech Republic, from Wikipedia
Article Prague, from Jewish Virtual Library
Minorities in the Czech Republic, from Radio Prague
Czech Republic, from Migration Information Source
Jana Vobecka, Population Development of the Jewish Population in Bohemia between the Years 1850 and 1939, 2006 paper
DOCUMENTS Historical Population Statistics : Czech Republic, from Population Statistics at Univ. Utrecht
Lizzie Selena Eden, A Lady's Glimpse of the Late War in Bohemia, 1867, posted by M.M. Ockerbloom
REFERENCE B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted om July 30th 2006, last revised on June 2nd 2008

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