[soo-deyt-n; Ger. zoo-deyt-n]
Sudetes, Czech Sudety, Ger. Sudeten, mountain range, along the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, extending c.185 mi (300 km) between the Elbe and Oder rivers. It is continued on the W by the Erzgebirge and on the E by the Carpathians. The Sudetes are divided into several groups. Farthest west, bordering on SE Germany, are the Lusatian (Pol. Luzické) Mts; along the border with SW Poland are, from west to east, the Isergebirge, the Krkonoše (Ger. Riesengebirge), the Adlergebirge, and the Jeseniky mts. The mineral deposits of the Sudetes are varied, but working mines have begun to decline in numbers. Industry flourishes on both slopes of the Sudetes; glass and porcelain, paper, and textiles are the chief products. Home industries have long held an important place in the Sudetes. There are also numerous mineral springs and resorts. The region was largely German-speaking until 1945. However, the term "Sudeten Germans" designated all the German-speaking population in the regions of Czechoslovakia bordering on Germany. The Sudetenland, home of these Germans for centuries, has always been a part of Bohemia. The Sudeten German party, founded by Konrad Henlein in 1934, was an offshoot of the German National Socialist party. In 1938 the party became Hitler's chief instrument in the events leading to the Munich Pact and the annexation of the Sudetenland to Germany. The districts were recovered by Czechoslovakia in 1945, and most of the German population was summarily expelled.

The Sudetes (suˈdiːtiːz) is a mountain range in Central Europe. They are also known as the Sudeten (German: [zu'de:tən]) or Sudety (Czech: ['sudetɪ]; Polish: [su'detɨ]) Mountains.

The Sudetes stretch from eastern Germany to Poland and the Czech Republic. The highest mountain is Sněžka-Śnieżka in the Krkonoše/Karkonosze Mountains on the Czech-Polish border. They reach up to 1,602 metres in altitude. The current geomorphological unit in the Czech part of the mountain range is Krkonošsko-jesenická soustava ("Krkonoše-Jeseníky").

The Karkonosze/Krkonoše Mountains have experienced growing tourism for winter sports during the past ten years. Its skiing resorts are becoming an alternative to the Alps.


The name Sudetes has been derived from Sudeti montes, a Latinization of the name Soudeta ore used in the Geographia of Ptolemy (Book 2, Chapter 10) ca. 150 for the present-day northern Czech mountains. Ptolemy said that they were above the Gabreta Forest, which places them in the Sudetenland. Ptolemy wrote in Greek, in which the name is a neuter plural. Latin mons, however, is a masculine, hence Sudeti. The Latin version is likely to be a scholastic innovation, as it is not attested in classical Latin literature.

The meaning of the name is not known. In one hypothetical derivation, it means Mountains of Wild Boars, relying on Indo-European *su-, "pig". A better etymology perhaps is from Latin sudis, plural sudes, "spines", which can be used of spiny fish or spiny terrain.


The exact location of the Sudetes is not very clear, as it has varied over the centuries. The ancient "Sudetenland" meant at least the northwest frontier of today's Czech Republic, probably extending to the north. By implication, it was part of the Hercynian Forest mentioned by many ancient authors of Antiquity.

Role of Sudetes in World War II

The name was used before World War II in (Nazi) German parlance to describe areas of Czechoslovakia with large German populations. A considerable proportion of Czechoslovak/Czech and Polish populace strongly resist to use this term as it harks painfully to the Nazi German times. After being annexed by Nazi Germany, much of the region was redesignated as the province of Sudetenland - Sudetengau. The ethnic Germans living there were called Sudeten Germans. They were heavily clustered, especially along Bohemia's borders to German Silesia and Saxony. These were the descendants of Medieval German colonists invited by the Kings of Bohemia into these previously Slavic areas for agricultural and urban development (see Ostsiedlung). Adolf Hitler redefined the term to mean the entire mountainous periphery of Czechoslovakia, and under that pretext, got his future enemies to concede the Czech defensive border in the Munich Agreement, leaving the remainder of Czechoslovakia shorn of its border fortifications and buffer zone. Germany occupied the rest of Bohemia and Moravia in March, 1939.


After World War II, most of the German population of Czechoslovakia was expelled. Neither Czechoslovakia/Czechia, nor Poland observe this designation officially, in maps etc., using only discrete local names in Czech and Polish for individual mountain ranges (e.g., Karkonosze/Krkonoše, see Subdivisions below).

Occupation of Sudetes by Germany in 1938–1939 is discussed again in 2008 in connection with the South-Ossetian war and Kosovo.


The Sudetes are usually divided into:

Notable towns

Notable towns in this area include:


External links

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