One of the darkest chapters in modern Czech history has just been reopened, with the news that police in north Bohemia have named two men responsible for the killing of Sudeten Germans in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Though the alleged culprits are long dead, some have welcomed the fact that the matter has finally been investigated.
The Prime Minister of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, has asked the Czech government to start a dialogue with the Sudeten Germans, a community whose members were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the end of WWII. Speaking at a Sudeten German conference in Augsburg, Germany, on Sunday, Mr Seehofer said the motto of the Czech presidency of the EU “Europe without barriers” meant no one should be excluded from a dialogue, particularly those who became “victims of the 20th century history”. Spokesperson of the Sudeten German association and MEP Bernd Posselt said that Czech politicians should finally scrap the Beneš decrees. These were issued by President Edvard Beneš after the war and became the legal basis for the expulsion of some three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.
Before the Second World War, the Czech capital was home to several ethnic groups – the Czechs, the Germans, and the Jews. Their co-existence in the modern era was often a source of conflict that only deepened after the 1918 foundation of Czechoslovakia. The question of identity in the multi-ethnic environment posed considerable challenges for leading intellectuals of the time; among them was the Prague writer, journalist and composer Max Brod. In this edition of Czechs in History, we talk to the Prague-based French historian Gaelle Vassogne, the
Pre-war Prague with its multi-national and multi-cultural environment has inspired many scholars and writers who explore the life of Czechs, Germans and Jews in the city of a hundred spires before it was swept away by the two totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Our guest in this edition of One on One is Professor Peter Demetz, the author of Prague in Black and Gold, Stage: Prague, and other works. Mr Demetz was born in Prague in the 1920s to a German and Jewish family but left the country after the communist takeover of 1948 and later became
Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, of the Civic Democrats, has dismissed as “aggressive rhetoric” a call by Bernd Posselt, the leader of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, for the Czech Republic to rescind the Beneš decrees. The decrees led to the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's Sudeten German population of around 2.5 million after World War II. On Friday Mr Posselt said the Czech Republic should take advantage of its EU presidency to lift the decrees and, in his words, “come to terms with its own history”. But Mr Zahradil responded by saying that the Czech EU presidency would definitely not deal with matters which he said had already been addressed – and closed - on bilateral as well as multilateral levels.
Bernd Posselt, the leader of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, has called on the Czech Republic to rescind the Beneš decrees that lead to the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's Sudeten German population after the war. Mr Posselt said the Czech Republic should take advantage of its EU presidency to lift the “anti-European and racist” decrees. He added that the act would enable the Czech Republic to come to terms with its own history. Landsmannschaft is the largest organisation representing Sudeten Germans.
You are not very likely to wander into Svitavy by chance. Located on both the major road and railway line connecting Moravia and eastern Bohemia, for most people Svitavy is just a name on their itinerary. But if you do come and take a closer look, you’ll find a little town proud of its past and working for a better future. Once an important town for Moravia’s textile industry, re-populated after the expulsion of Svitavy’s German speaking inhabitants, it only recently showed its pride in perhaps its most famous native personality – Oskar
The Czech Transport Ministry is set to take over several buildings and plots of land in the German port of Hamburg, the daily Právo reported on Thursday. The property, which once belonged to a bankrupt Czech shipping company, was disputed at Czech and German courts; last week the Czech state reached an agreement with the company’s bankruptcy trustee which paved the way for the takeover. The disputed facilities were rented out to Czechoslovakia after WWI; the lease will expire in 2027. The ministry has yet to decide on the use of the property.
Exactly 90 years have passed since the founding of Czechoslovakia on October 28 1918, a date that is still celebrated as a national holiday in the Czech Republic. In this programme we look at the legacy of Czechoslovakia’s “First Republic”. It survived for just 20 years, brought to an abrupt end with the Munich Agreement of September 1938, followed six months later by the German occupation of what remained of the Czech Lands. During the 40 years of communist rule, the pre-war republic and its founding father, President Tomáš Masaryk, were virtually
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