It is entirely up to the Czech Republic whether it will see fit to scrap
the post-war Benes decrees, the head of the Sudeten German Homeland
Association (Sudeten German Landsmannschaft ), Berndt Posselt said on
Friday on the eve of the association’s annual meeting. Mr. Posselt said
that he personally hoped to see the decrees scrapped one day. The said
decrees sanctioned the expulsion of Sudeten Germans and Hungarians from
Czechoslovakia after World War II and the confiscation of their property.
The leader of the Czech Christian Democratic Party, Pavel Bělobrádek, will attend the meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft together with Culture Minister Daniel Herman. MPs from the Communist Party have criticized the decision describing it as a “provocation” at a time when Czechs will be marking the anniversary of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the atrocities that followed.
For the second year now the city of Brno has hosted a week-long festival commemorating its rich multicultural past. The Moravian capital, once home to large German and Jewish communities was deprived of its minorities during and in the aftermath of the Second World War. Under the umbrella title “Meeting Brno” the festival’s multiple events try to shed light onto some of the glorious as well as painful moments in the city’s history and discuss the issues of guilt, revenge, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the end of WW II, I speak with well-known historian Matěj Spurný about the Sudeten Germans whose future in post-war Czechoslovakia was sealed when many lined up with Nazi Germany ahead of the Munich Agreement. Most of the ethnic German population was forced to leave – spelling the end of what had been a largely peaceful coexistence going all the way back to the 13th century.
Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg has attacked the current foreign minister of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, for populism. Schwarzenberg singled out Kurz’s comments attacking any EU talks with Turkey. The Czech politician said that it was clear at the moment that Turkish entry into the EU is not on the agenda. Schwarzenberg’s comments were given in an interview with the Austrian paper Die Presse Am Sonntag.
At the start of this year historian Matěj Spurný came in for a great deal of online abuse – and even death threats – after an interview he gave a magazine headlined This country is not just for Czechs. Spurný’s work is focused on issues of nationalism and identity and he is a co-founder of Antikomplex, a group advocating for a more critical look at the post-war expulsion of the country’s German minority. When the Charles University academic visited our studios I was curious to know, given his specialisation, about his own family background.
A series of eight programmes on public broadcaster Czech Television called Modrá Krev or Blue Blood is already around half way through. The series looks at the modern Czech aristocracy, in many cases families which have returned from exile during the Communist era, with each episode focusing on one particular noble family.
Researchers at the Brno-based Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) say they have identified the structure of several viruses that affect bees and can now determine how the infection takes place. The worldwide breakthrough follows around two years of research at the unit of Masaryk University. The research gives some hope that a cure for some bee viruses could now be within reach. Bee populations across the world have plummeted in recent years with around 25 viruses that threaten them pinpointed by scientists.
Karel Schwarzenberg says it is highly likely he will stand for election to the Chamber of Deputies as the electoral leader of TOP 09 in Prague next year, iHned.cz reported. Mr. Schwarzenberg, who turns 80 next year, previously led the party and is its honorary chairman. He said he would not stand for president in elections in early 2018, saying he had lost once – to incumbent Miloš Zeman – and that was the end for him. TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek said the Schwarzenberg noble family had been serving the country for 700 years and his party colleague was continuing that tradition.
A group of young Czechs are currently raising funding to bring now elderly Germans expelled from the Czech lands after WWII to Prague in November for events including a concert and an exhibition. Unlikely as it may sound, they also want to highlight friendships between expelled Germans and the Czechs who today live in their former homes. I discussed the project with one of its initiators, Vlaďka Vojtíšková of Smíření (Reconciliation) 2016.