As the Second World War came to an end in 1945, numerous atrocities were committed in towns across Czechoslovakia, as the Czech people rose up against Nazi occupation. Investigations into the Nazi massacre which occurred in the final days of the war in Leskovice have revealed that those responsible for several of these crimes are still living in Germany today. Now, police have made a number of discoveries about another such slaughter in Velke Mezirici, which have brought detectives closer than ever before to finding out the truth about events.
Czech police have been collecting evidence regarding atrocities committed by three Second World War criminals in Czechoslovakia for some time now. Investigations into the 1945 massacre at Leskovice, allegedly conducted by former SS officer Walter Hauck, began late last year when tenacious TV Nova investigative reporter Standa Motl prompted police to examine the case. Discoveries led detectives to look into the involvement of Hauck along with two other Nazi criminals in massacres which took place across the Czech Republic just before the War ended. Hauck along with Hildegarde Mende, previously a guard in the Terezin ghetto, and Rudolf Malik, a former Hitler Youth member, are still living in Germany as free citizens today. Now, investigations into a slaughter at Velke Mezirici, which took place on the 7th May 1945, have finally yielded results and police suspect Malik's involvement. I asked Igor Crha, the officer in charge of the case, about the investigation:
"We progressed using materials we found in various archives: the National Archives, the Police Archives and others, where we put together events that took place on May 7, 1945 in Velke Mezirici. I can say that we did discover who was executed. We selected those who had been executed by our perpetrators, who were identified on the basis of statements taken in 1945 and 1946."
59 people died in the massacre at Velke Mezirici, which was carried out by a commando of Hitler Youth members, who decided to punish those joining new local authorities in the town. Rudolf Malik was only 17 at the time but was well trained in commando tactics, and according to witnesses, he himself killed no less than two of the victims. He later confessed that he was in possession of a pistol but denies firing at anyone. Igor Crha:
"We know that this individual is living in Germany and we have asked our German counterparts for help in finding Malik and other individuals involved in these events, provided they are still alive. Right now we are waiting to see if these individuals are indeed still alive so that we can proceed to questioning them."
Although the recent findings will aid police in discovering the other members of the Hitler Youth responsible for the slaughter, they will not be sufficient to bring the alleged perpetrators to trial. It still remains for police to question other potential eye witnesses living in Germany, but with Malik now 88 years old, even then it is debatable whether any legal action will actually be taken against him. Igor Crha again:
"Currently, it is difficult to say whether the case will go before the court because we don't have statements from the other side. We only have statements from the archive. If we are able to complete the questioning and other tasks, then it will depend on how the questioning will correspond to the events of the time. Then the decision will be made whether to prosecute certain individuals."
But with a long time having passed since the events in question, it seems that there is still a long way to go and many legal obstacles to overcome before those responsible for the massacre in Velke Mezirici can be brought to justice.
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