Scientists from Brno’s Masaryk University are engaged in a research project aimed at studying the effects of stress on the psyche of Holocaust victims. According to the internet site Novinky.cz which posted the story on Monday the team of psychologists, neurology experts and genetics experts are studying possible changes to the brain as a result of long-term exposure to extreme stress. The head of the research team Ivan Rektor said 30 survivors had agreed to cooperate and has asked others willing to do so to come forward.
The former head of the Hungarian police during World War II in the now Slovak city of Košice and convicted war criminal, László Csizsik-Csatáry, died in Budapest over the weekend at the age of 98. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Mr. Csatáry was in charge of transports of thousands of Jews from the Košice ghetto to the death camp in Auschwitz in 1944 and was given a death sentence, in absentia for war crimes by a Czechoslovak court in 1949. In the same year he fled to Canada, where he stayed until his Canadian citizenship was revoked in 1997. He was discovered to be living in Budapest last year by a reporter and was subsequently placed under house arrest. In June of this year Csatáry was indicted for war crimes in Hungary, but the Budapest higher court suspended the case a month later, since he had been already sentenced in Czechoslovakia.
Remains of twelve ethnic Germans were put to rest on Saturday in the city of Jihlava in the Vysočina region. The remains were taken from a mass grave two years ago in the Budínka field near the town of Dobronín. The mass grave allegedly contains the remains of victims of the “revolutionary guards”, murdered in the final month of World War II. The service at the St. Jacob’s Church in Jihlava was attended by approximately 200 people and was led in German by reverend Dieter Lang. Reverend Lang, whose own family comes from the Vysočina region, called for reconciliation between Czechs and Germans in his sermon. In May and June of 1945, some Czech towns and villages saw spontaneous violent acts committed by the Czech-speaking population against ethnic German residents. Between 1945 and 1947, three million ethnic Germans and Hungarians were forced to leave Czechoslovakia by the government, based on the so-called Beneš Decrees. It is still unkown how many ethnic Germans perished as a result of the deportation and sporatic violence that took place in the wake of the Allies‘ victory.
An elite police unit from Brno has headed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to clear vestiges of the war in Bosnia 17 years ago: unexploded mortar bombs in the winding Sava River. Divers from the elite squad – working in poor visibility, underwater – will understandably have to proceed with extreme caution: an estimated 150 mortar shells litter the river bottom.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has welcomed the news of the arrest of Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb suspected of war crimes who was detained on Thursday by the Serbian police after 16 years in hiding. Mr Schwarzenberg congratulated the Serbian police and security forces, and said that the Serbian government proved it acted in full accordance with the rule of law. The Czech foreign minister added he hoped the fugitive war crimes suspect’s arrest will “accelerate Serbia’s approximation” to the European Union.
Meanwhile, the leader of the displaced Sudeten Germans, Bernd Posselt, welcomed the efforts of the Czech authorities to cast light on crimes relating to the displacement. In a statement to the press, Mr Posselt also called upon Prime Minister Nečas to support investigations into post-war offences and annul so-called impunity laws that sanctioned numerous offences again German civilians in the aftermath of the war.
The excavation of a field where over a dozen Germans civilians are thought to have been murdered and buried immediately after World War Two has resulted in the discovery of six bodies. Local police investigating the event in the village of Dobronín near Jihlava say the remains have been removed for DNA identification and that the dig is now over. Local journalist Miroslav Mareš, who requested the investigation, said Thursday that he was surprised that more bodies had not been uncovered, but that he had full confidence in the work of the police. Testimonies given by the children of the alleged victims suggest that between 11 and 15 Germans were beaten to death by local Czech residents in May of 1945, just weeks after the end of the war. Police detectives opened the case as a murder investigation in September of last year.
A gruesome find has made headlines in the Czech Republic: police have uncovered human remains in what appears to be a mass grave in a field near the village of Dobronin, in the Jihlava region. Fifteen Germans are said to have been brutally murdered there by the locals in the turbulent days after the end of World War II. The discovery is the first piece of evidence pertaining to this long-forgotten massacre and has once again re-opened a dark chapter of Czech-German history.
Thousands of Polish army officers, teachers and intellectuals were killed by the Soviet NKVD in the notorious Katyn massacre during World War II. But the fact Czechs were also murdered there has for long been an untold aspect of this dark chapter of history. Now Czech researchers are piecing together the story of several hundred such victims, while there are also plans to unveil a memorial to some of them.
A Czech Radio reporter and colleague from the Los Angeles Times in a joint interview have helped uncover evidence which could prove crucial in the current trial of John Demjanjuk, a man accused of involvement in Nazi death camp crimes. The evidence – the testimony of a witness – could help pin Demjanjuk down as a guard who participated in the murder of thousands of Jews at an infamous Polish camp.