It's 55 years since the end of the Second World War, but in a number of cases the issue of punishment for war criminals remains unresolved. Few new cases have emerged in recent years, but now the spokesman of the leading Sudeten German organisation, the Landsmannschaft, has come up with a new angle, demanding that a Czech, Frantisek Foukal, be prosecuted for the massacre of German civilians after the war. Olga Szantova has the story.
Czechoslovakia's Sudeten Germans, who were forced to leave the country's border regions after the war, have been stressing that any compensation of Czechs for forced labor, for imprisonment in concentration camps, etc. should go hand in hand with the compensation of Germans who lost their property which they had to leave behind after the war.
On Saturday the organization's spokesman, Johann Bohm, criticized the Czech government on a separate issue, demanding the arrest of Frantisek Foukal, a Czech who served as commander of the Mirosov camp in West Bohemia, where, in 1945, Germans were interned awaiting transportation to Germany. Some 220 of them, Bohm said, died due to maltreatment and poor conditions in the camp.
This was only one example, he said, of Czechs killing Germans after the war. Unless the Czech government came to terms with these cases, he added, it would throw a shadow onto the whole country, an undesirable situation in view of the Czech Republic's aspirations for EU membership. Bringing Frantisek Foukal to court should be the first concrete step in this direction, Johann Bohm said.
Historians and Czech Television have examined the case and have come up with the following verdict: Frantisek Foukal really was the commander of the Mirosov camp. And he certainly did not treat his inmates well. There are even photographs showing him taking part in the killing of German prisoners. In that respect the Sudeten German spokesman's demands are well founded. But he is wrong when he says that Foukal has even had the audacity to apply for compensation for time spent in forced labor in Nazi Germany. Frantisek Foukal could not apply, and neither can he be tried, simply because, as Czech TV discovered, he died in an old pensioners' home in 1988.