The Czech Republic’s minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, bestowed Medals of Merit for Diplomacy on 12 individuals on Monday. Nine of them, including the late Jiří Dientsbier, the country’s first post-communist foreign minister, received the honour for helping advance diplomacy and foreign policy in the period since the Velvet Revolution.
There is a magical place in South Bohemia. You walk or drive along a river and suddenly you feel like you are in England, more precisely at Windsor. You check the map, make sure that the river is the Vltava and you are still in Bohemia. Yet the outlines of the castle you see before you look remarkably like the Royal Castle of Windsor near London! That’s because you have arrived at Hluboká, where the aristocratic Schwarzenberg family built one of their family seats in the neo-Gothic style.
A new memorial marking a postwar massacre of Carpathian Germans was
unveiled on Sunday afternoon on the Švédské šance hill near the
Moravian town of Přerov.
Shortly after the end of WWII, in June 1945, Czechoslovak soldiers shot more than 260 Carpathian Germans on the site, most of them women and children. The event is considered one of the worst acts of revenge taken on German-speaking inhabitants in postwar Czechoslovakia.
The monument, a four meter high wrought-iron cross, was created by artisan blacksmith Jiří Jurda.
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.