For many decades, a train station located right on the Czech-German border was a symbol for the division between Germany and communist Czechoslovakia. The train station once connected a Bavarian and a Czech town that both carried the same name in Czech - Železná Ruda. After World War II, it was defunct and even set to be demolished. Its re-opening in 1991 was one of the most significant events in Czech-Bavarian history after the Velvet Revolution. Now, both towns are once again collaborating – on a celebration of the twenty-year-anniversary of the
A small group of people commemorated on Saturday the victims of the
“Brno death march” during which hundreds of ethnic Germans died who had
been expelled from the city at the end of May 1945, in the wake of WWII.
Twelve people took part in the event, walking some 30 km along the route of
the march to Pohořelice, towards the Austrian border. Organizers said
rainy weather probably deterred more participants.
On May 30 and 31, 1945, some 20,000 Brno’s German-speaking citizens were rounded up by Czech paramilitaries and walked off to the border. Estimates on the number of victims vary between 1,600 and 10,000. This and several other outbursts of anti-German hatred preceded an organized and more humane expulsion of around three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.
On Wednesday, archaeologists found a skull near the site of an alleged mass grave where some 15 Germans are said to have been murdered by Czech locals at the end of World War II, in the town of Dobronín, in the Jihlava region. According to criminal police investigators, the victims’ relatives and descendants in Germany welcome the Czech effort to shed light on post-war murders of Germans on Czech lands. The search locations were determined on the basis of scientific measurements of soil, as well as documents gathered by the police. Last summer, anthropologists found the bodies of at least 13 victims in the nearby town of Budínka. Criminal police are investigating the case.
In 1939, the chairman of the German Social Democratic Workers Party in the Czechoslovak Republic, Wenzel Jaksch, saw himself forced to escape his native land after it was invaded by Germany – staying would have put him, who opposed the growing influence of the Nazis in Sudeten-German politics, in grave danger. Wenzel Jaksch successfully escaped to London, via the Beskydy Mountains and Poland. He later shared his amazing story – and based on his written account, his children, George and Mary Jaksch, have set out for a pilgrimage in their father’s
In the run-up to the 66th anniversary of the end of WWII Czech public television featured a documentary throwing more light on events that have received little publicity in the past – the atrocities committed on German civilians in post-war Czechoslovakia. The subject has been avoided for years, but film director David Vondráček says Czechs need to hear about what happened and face up to events they may not be proud of.
This week we continue our look into the dramatic events in Czechoslovakia just before World War Two. By the summer of 1938, Hitler’s Germany was demanding nothing less than the immediate annexation of the entire Sudetenland – all parts of Bohemia and Moravia with a German speaking majority. The Sudeten German Party had made big gains among German speakers in local elections earlier that year, and the Nazi rhetoric of their leaders was unambiguous.
In the last couple of weeks we have looked at the growing tensions in Czechoslovakia in the second half of the 1930s, as pressure from Nazi Germany grew. The period leading up to the Munich Agreement in September 1938, when Britain and France gave Hitler the green light to annex vast areas of Czechoslovakia, is extremely well documented in the Czech Radio archives. The archives also reveal that this was one of the first international diplomatic crises to be played out on the airwaves. Through radio, the Munich crisis became a battle of international
A court in Prague has lifted a ban imposed by the Czech Interior Ministry on a Sudeten Germans’ association in the Czech Republic, the news website lidovky.cz reported on Thursday. The ministry refused in 2009 to register the association; officials argued that the group would try to breach the so-called Beneš decrees which stripped around three million ethnic Germans of the citizenship and property after WWII. However, the court said this alone was not sufficient ground to refuse registration.
“Hello, hello! Prague, Czechoslovakia calling. Good evening ladies and gentlemen”: Radio Prague welcomes listeners to its English programmes back in 1937. The tone may be a little more formal, but it is not so different from today. Yet much has changed since the troubled times of the later 1930s. Nazi Germany was breathing down Czechoslovakia’s neck and tensions in the mainly German-speaking Sudetenland were rising rapidly. The young British historian Hugh Seton Watson was in Czechoslovakia in September that year, attending an international summer
The head of Germany’s biggest and most important region, Bavaria, is making a landmark visit to the Czech Republic. The two-day trip by minister president Horst Seehofer is the first ever being made by a Bavarian premier to its neighbour since the end of WWII. While relations have been complicated by recent history, this visit is putting the accent on the present and future.
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