Germany is to pay compensation to remaining elderly victims of the Roma Holocaust who suffered during WWII in concentration camps such as Lety or the death camp Auschwitz. Each will receive a one-off payment of around 2,560 euros in the coming months. The agreement was reached with the help of the Czech Foreign Ministry and former special envoy on Holocaust issues, Jiří Šitler (now the Czech ambassador to Stockholm).
Exactly 70 years ago, the Czechoslovak government launched the expulsion of ethnic Germans (the so-called Sudeten Germans) to the Soviet zone, which would later become East Germany. The transfer of around three million Germans in retaliation for Nazi atrocities started immediately after the end of WWII, first with the so-called wild expulsions, which were uncontrolled and often violent. The organised transfer, initiated by president Edvard Beneš, proceeded according to the Potsdam Conference from January until October 1946, first to the American and then to the Soviet zone. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people were murdered during the expulsions or died from hunger and illness as a consequence.
On May 31st 1945, in the aftermath of WW II, some twenty thousand German-speaking inhabitants of Brno were driven from their homes and forced to walk the 50 km distance to the Austrian border. Close to 2,000 of them died of exhaustion on the way. On Saturday some 250 people took part in the 10th annual Reconciliation March held in memory of those who suffered and died in the wildcat expulsions of German-speaking inhabitants from the border areas of post-war Czechoslovakia. Jaroslav Odstrčilík, the organizer of the event, explains the significance
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has justified a government minister attending a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft association last weekend saying that given today’s state of Europe the Czech Republic needed allies. Sobotka’s comments came in an interview with the daily Právo. Christian Democrat Minister for Culture, Daniel Herman, attended the meeting in Nuremburg last Saturday. The Prime Minister said the leadership of the Sudeten association has signalled it wants to drop claims for the return of property after around 3 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII. This, he added, was a significant sign the association wanted to focus on the future. Sobotka stressed though that it was the Sudeten Germans that contributed initially to the break up of Czechoslovakia and the expulsion of Czechs from border territories where the Germans were in the majority in 1938.
The annual meeting of the Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft in Nuremberg over the weekend is perceived as a turning point in the reconciliation between Czechs and Sudeten Germans. For the first time ever the Czech government sent an official representative to the gathering –Culture Minister Daniel Herman - who addressed the assembly as “dear compatriots”, expressing regret over the injustices that had broken up long years of fruitful coexistence.
Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman on Sunday addressed a gathering of the
Sudeten German Landsmannschaft in German, greeting participants as “dear
compatriots” for which he received a hearty round of applause. The
minister said that the identity of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia had long
been formed by Czechs, Germans, Jews, Romanies and Poles; a fruitful
co-habitation broken up by the tragic events of the twentieth century. The
minister expressed regret over all acts –both on the Sudeten German and
Czech side – which undermined trust and mutual understanding.
This is the first time that the Czech government has sent an official representative to a meeting of the Landsmannschaft association. Relations between the Czech government and the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft improved after the association confirmed that it would no longer strive for financial compensation or the return of property confiscated from the 2.5 million Sudeten Germans driven from post-war Czechoslovakia under the Beneš decrees.
Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman is to address a weekend gathering of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft on Sunday. This is the first time that the Czech government has sent an official representative to a meeting of the Landsmannschaft association. Relations between the Czech government and the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft improved after the association confirmed that it would no longer strive for financial compensation or the return of property confiscated from the 2.5 million Sudeten Germans driven from post-war Czechoslovakia under the Beneš decrees. On Saturday the association awarded Hans-Adam II, the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, the Charles IV Prize for fostering understanding among European nations.
Minister of Culture Daniel Herman is the first government member to take official part in the Sudeten German congress, which is to take place at the weekend in Nuremberg. According to the head of the Sudeten German Homeland Association, Berndt Posselt, Herman’s presence will contribute to further progress in the reconciliation between Sudeten Germans and Czechs. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Herman’s participation at the congress "is fully within the context of the present very good Czech-German and also Czech-Bavarian relations."
The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, an organization representing Sudeten Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, dropped the passage from its statuses stating it would fight for the return of confiscated Sudeten German property. The decision was made during the Landsmannschaft's conference in Munich at the weekend. The same change had laready been approved at a conference last year, but it was later revoked by a court. The possibility of Sudeten German restitutions have been a major issue of contention between the Czech Republic and Germany in the past.
In this special programme on Czech Independence Day I am joined by noted historian Jan Rychlík, and we will also be hearing from Jan Hartl of the STEM polling agency. We will examine the influence of foreigners and minority groups in the Czech lands throughout history and try to gain a greater understanding of contemporary Czech attitudes in this regard.
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