Barbara Coudenhove-Kalergi was born in Prague in 1932. As a member of the German-speaking minority in Czechoslovakia, she and her family were forced to flee the country at the end of the Second World War. She later settled in Vienna, where she became a journalist and author – ever with an eye on events happening in her old homeland. I joined Barbara at her home in Vienna to discuss her life and work.
Czech Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek told a meeting of the Sudeten German Homeland Association (Sudeten German Landsmannschaft) in Augsburg, Bavaria, that never again should be allowed the expulsion of people for their nationality, beliefs, or racial origin.. Bělobrádek, the highest ranking Czech politician to address the meeting of exiled Sudetens and their descendants, was referring to the expulsion of around 3.0 million German speakers at the end of WWII from Czechoslovakia. Bělobrádek adressed his audience as fellow countrymen, explaining that the Sudetens had also shared a love for the same country as the Czechs. He added that he had not come to apologise for past events but to make peace. Bělobrádek said that in the future he hoped attendance at the event would not attract such great attention in the Czech Republic.
The 68th meeting of the Sudeten German Homeland Association (Sudeten German Landsmannschaft) started in the Bavarian town of Augsburg. One of the main targets of the meeting is reported to be a further deepening of relations between the former Sudeten Germans and their descendants and Czechs. The meeting should be attended by Czech Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek on Sunday. He will be the highest placed Czech politicians so far to attend such a meeting. The head of the association, Bernd Posselt ,said on Saturday that Sudeten Germans could be a bridge between Czechs and Bavaria and the rest of Germany.
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.
The minister of culture, Daniel Herman, says he will join the leader of his Christian Democrats, Pavel Bělobrádek, in attending an annual meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft at the start of June. Mr. Herman told Czech Television that it had been 70 years since the war and that people ought to look forward. MPs from the Communist Party have described the top Christian Democrats’ attendance at the event as “provocation” at a time when Czechs will be marking the anniversary of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the atrocities that followed. As deputy prime minister Mr. Bělobrádek will be the most senior Czech politician ever to attend. Mr. Herman spoke at the meeting last year.
Christian Democrat party head, Pavel Bělobrádek, has stirred controversy with his declaration that he will attend a meeting of the Sudeten ethnic grouping in Augsburg at the start of June. The grouping represents the interests of Germans and their descendants expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII. The meeting was last year attended by Christian Democrat culture minister Daniel Herman. Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek stressed that Bělobrádek was attending as party leader and not as deputy prime minister. Communist leader Vojtěch Filip condemned the move.
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.
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.