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.
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.
The Czech-German declaration, which was signed 20 years ago to the day, enabled the countries to cooperate and to look into the future, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told the Czech News Agency on Saturday. The significance of the declaration, in which the leaders of both countries pledged not to burden bilateral relations by controversial issues from the past, is still relevant today. Thanks to the agreement, Czech and Germans are not just neighbors, but also significant partners, Mr Zaorálek has said.
It’s probably widely accepted these days that all countries spy on each other, even states on their so-called allies. And a book presented in Prague this week about the former East German secret police, the STASI, shows how it was true of the fraternal Communist countries of the former Eastern bloc, including former Czechoslovakia, as well.
A Prague court of appeal has rejected a property claim by Ernst Waldstein-Wartenberg pertaining to real estate in Prague’s prestigious Lesser Town. The buildings in Malá Strana and Hradčany were confiscated by the state on the grounds of the Benes decrees. The court of appeal upheld an earlier ruling by a Prague district court, according to which the claimant failed to meet the requirements of the law on restitution.
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.
The Czech and German secret services have released a joint publication about the activities of the German Federal Intelligence service during the so-called Prague Spring pro-democracy movement in 1968. It contains original documents and never before published photographs from the archive of the German secret service, concerning Prague Spring and occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops, head of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information Jaroslav Hrbek told the Czech News Agency. The Czech-German document can be downloaded for free from the website of the office.
Germany is to pay compensation to remaining elderly victims of the Roma Holocaust who suffered during WWII in concentration camps such as Lety or the death camp Auschwitz. Each will receive a one-off payment of around 2,560 euros in the coming months. The agreement was reached with the help of the Czech Foreign Ministry and former special envoy on Holocaust issues, Jiří Šitler (now the Czech ambassador to Stockholm).
Exactly 70 years ago, the Czechoslovak government launched the expulsion of ethnic Germans (the so-called Sudeten Germans) to the Soviet zone, which would later become East Germany. The transfer of around three million Germans in retaliation for Nazi atrocities started immediately after the end of WWII, first with the so-called wild expulsions, which were uncontrolled and often violent. The organised transfer, initiated by president Edvard Beneš, proceeded according to the Potsdam Conference from January until October 1946, first to the American and then to the Soviet zone. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people were murdered during the expulsions or died from hunger and illness as a consequence.
On May 31st 1945, in the aftermath of WW II, some twenty thousand German-speaking inhabitants of Brno were driven from their homes and forced to walk the 50 km distance to the Austrian border. Close to 2,000 of them died of exhaustion on the way. On Saturday some 250 people took part in the 10th annual Reconciliation March held in memory of those who suffered and died in the wildcat expulsions of German-speaking inhabitants from the border areas of post-war Czechoslovakia. Jaroslav Odstrčilík, the organizer of the event, explains the significance