The Defense Ministry has filed a criminal complaint against a man who attended a commemorative ceremony honouring Czechoslovak war veterans wearing an SS uniform. The ceremony took place in the town of Rakovník on Veterans' Day, November 11, and the man wearing a Nazi uniform stood next to the guard of honor at a memorial to Czechoslovak pilots from Rakovník who served in the British Royal Air Force. The incident caused public outrage at the event itself and was later widely commented on in the media and on social networks. The mayor of Rakovník and the town council distanced themselves from the ceremony and the Defense Ministry slammed the police for failing to take action.
Former Czechoslovak diplomat Vladimír Vochoč, who helped hundreds of Jews escape from Vichy, France during the Holocaust, has been recognised as “Righteous among the Nations”, the highest Israeli tribute to non-Jews who saved the lives of Jews during the Second World War. Mr Vochoč is the 116th Czech to receive the tribute, sponsored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Several commemorative events are being held across the country on Friday to mark the International Veterans Day. In Prague, war veterans, in particular Czechoslovakia’s RAF pilots, will be remembered on Náměstí Míru square at an event organized by the local town hall in cooperation with the Association of Veterans of the Czech Republic, the Czech Army Military History Institute and the Czechoslovak Legionnaires Community. The day will end with an open-air mass paying tribute to fallen soldiers. Veterans Day is celebrating all around the world to mark the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, which ended World War I.
For years now, the Czech Army has been selling off, or in some cases donating, concrete military bunkers built in the 1930s. Originally, they were to have served as key fortifications against Nazi Germany but were never put to use. There are some 5,000 such pillboxes in the Czech Republic, one-fifth of which are now in private hands. More than 360 bunkers were sold in the last year-and-a-half alone.
Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman has indicated significant progress made in negotiations aimed at removing a pig farm from the site of a former Romany concentration camp. The presence of the farm at Lety, south Bohemia, has plagued several administrations and elicited sharp criticism from the European Commission.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, wants the government to discuss on Wednesday an agreement he says the cabinet made in 2014 not to meet officially with the Dalai Lama. The arts minister, Daniel Herman, recently received the Tibetan spiritual leader in Prague, sparking a row between the two ministers. Referring to that meeting, Mr. Zaorálek said on Tuesday that people would also be annoyed if somebody had met the Sudeten German leader Konrad Henlein while there was a legitimate Czechoslovak government in the interwar period. He later apologised for the Henlein reference.
A book written in Terezín concentration camp by Otto Weiss, who later died at Auschwitz, is being presented at Prague’s Maisel Synagogue on Tuesday evening. Copies of the book entitled I viděl Bůh, že je to špatné (Even God saw it was bad) will be signed by the author’s painter daughter Helga Hošková-Weissová, who illustrated it in Terezín at the age of 13. Mrs. Hošková-Weissová, now aged 86, is herself the author of Helga's Diary: A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp.
Czech-born Holocaust survivor George Brady received a commemorative certificate from the mayor of Brno Petr Vokřál on Monday. The mayor thanked him for his work in educating students about the Holocaust and supporting Czech expats abroad. Brady, who was reportedly crossed off the list of nominees up for a state award because his nephew Culture Minister Daniel Herman met with the Dalai Lama against the president’s wishes, has been at the center of media attention since arriving in Prague. He received numerous distinctions and awards including the Karel Kramář Medal from Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday bestowed the Karel Kramář Memorial Medal on Holocaust survivor George Brady in recognition of his life-long work for democracy and human rights. The Auschwitz survivor, who was reportedly crossed off the list of nominees for a state award from President Zeman, has become a central figure in the Czechoslovak Independence Day celebrations getting recognition from institutions around the country.
George Brady, who is 88, currently finds himself at the centre of one of the most divisive political affairs seen in the Czech Republic in some time. Amid the hullabaloo, it might be easy to overlook the remarkable life story of the 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, whose family’s fate featured in the book Hana’s Suitcase. Ian Willoughby has more.
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