The German embassy in Prague will open its doors to schoolchildren and other visitors on Thursday to mark 25 years since communism in Europe began to collapse. The embassy will recall what grew into a flood of East German refugees in 1989 travelling to Prague and climbing over the then-West German embassy walls to escape totalitarianism. By September, thousands had done so, camping on the embassy grounds, before they were allowed to seek refuge in West Germany. The embassy will be open to the public on Thursday afternoon and will see discussions with former East Germans who fled, former officials who helped them, and others including author Jaroslav Rudiš and artist David Černý.
Addressing a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft on Sunday, Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer said more time and patience would be required to overcome the injustices of WWII. He said Bavaria was opening a representative office in Prague which pointed to above-standard relations and expressed the hope that more high-placed Czech government representatives would attend meetings of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft in the coming years. This year’s meeting heard calls, among others from Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller, for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The appeal was rejected by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who said that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected an appeal by Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said at a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft that the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The Czech prime minister countered that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.
Much of the border areas of the Czech Republic still bear the scars of the expulsion of some of the estimated three million ethnic Germans at the end of the Second World War. Many of the towns and villages were only partially repopulated, often with people who lacked the basic skills of the people they replaced. The result has often been the slow death or disappearance of communities altogether or their continued existence in conditions which lag behind the rest of the country. A project to try and put some of these areas on a new path has now been
German President Joachim Gauck on Wednesday concludes his official three-day visit to the Czech Republic. Together with his host, Czech President Miloš Zeman, Mr Gauck paid homage to the victims of Nazism at the former concentration camp in Terezín. But he also recalled the fate of millions of ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War.
The German president, Joachim Gauck, visited the former WWII ghetto and concentration camp at Terezín in central Bohemia on Tuesday afternoon. He was accompanied by his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, who said Mr. Gauck’s visit followed logically from his 2012 visit to Lidice. The German head of state viewed the small fortress at Terezín, which the Prague Gestapo used as a prison. Around 155,000 people, almost all of the Jewish, passed through Terezín in the course of the war; nearly 120,000 died, around 35,000 of them at Terezín itself. Prague’s Rabbi Karel Sidon, who brought Tuesday’s memorial ceremony to a close, said he regarded Mr. Gauck’s visit not as a mere gesture but an expression of interest. The German head of state is on a three-day state visit to the Czech Republic.
The German occupation of the Czech lands was the sad culmination of the two nations’ coexistence, the German president, Joachim Gauck, said in Prague on Tuesday. Speaking to students at Charles University on the second day of a state visit, Mr. Gauck said the post-war expulsion of ethnic Germans had been the final act of that drama. He praised the work of young Czech academics and others in exploring that subject, and commended the Czech recognition of Sudeten German resisters in 2005.
Justice Minister Helena Válkova has apologized for making an insensitive statement relating to WWII events. In an interview for the news site Echo 24 Mrs. Válkova strongly condemned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia, saying that while the expulsion was in response to what had taken place before, nothing much had happened to Czechs under the protectorate. The statement sparked a storm of protests from opposition MPs. The center-right TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats said the words were an insult to the thousands of Jews who had suffered and died in concentration camps and a slight to the memory of the victims of Lidice and Ležáky, two villages raised to the ground by the Nazis. Mrs. Válkova explained in a statement that she had uttered the phrase as a comparison to what had happened in Poland or the former Soviet Union and said she should have expressed herself more clearly.
On a working visit to Germany, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on
Friday paid homage to 677 Czech Nazi resistence fighters who were executed
in the Plotzensee jailhouse. Laying a wreath at the Plotzensee Memorial
Centre the prime minister said it was important that the heroic deeds of
resistance fighters should not be forgotten. Almost 3,000 executions were
conducted in the Plotzensee jailhouse between 1933 and 1945.
The Czech prime minister is on a two-day working visit to Germany, his first since taking office. His talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials on Thursday focused on bilateral ties, European integration and the crisis in Ukraine. The Czech prime minister also visited the Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg; the German firm owns the Czech carmaker Škoda Auto.
The coalition Christian Democrats have announced they last month held talks with representatives of the Sudendeutsche Landsmannschaft, an organisation associating ethnic Germans expelled from post-war Czechoslovakia. In a statement, the Christian Democrats said that party leader and deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek, Culture Minister Daniel Herman and other party officials met with four Landsmannschaft officials to discuss cooperation between the Czech Republic and the German state of Baden-Württemberg, particularly in the area of science and research.
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