In the late summer of 1938, the fate of the Czechoslovak Republic was being decided. The Sudeten German-speaking minority wanted to split from the country and join Nazi Germany. Hitler threatened war on Czechoslovakia if their demands were not met. Britain and France were bound by treaties to help the Czechs but wanted desperately to avoid the war. So, they sent a special envoy to the country – Walter Runciman, 1st Viscount of Doxford, in short, Lord Runciman. Vít Pohanka found an episodic but fascinating story connected with Lord Runciman’s historic
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.
Around 250 people took part in a 32-kilometre Pilgrimage of Reconciliation
from the town of Pohořelice to Brno on Saturday to commemorate the victims
of the post-war expulsion of Brno’s German-speaking population. The route
followed the one that the expellees must have taken but symbolically went
in the opposite direction, organisers said.
The pilgrimage, which began at the site of a May 1945 holding camp for German speakers in Pohořelice, was part of a festival entitled Meeting Brno. The first such commemoration took place in 2006.
Franz Fühmann (1922-1984) was one of East Germany’s most widely read writers. He is also one of few that have stood the test of time. He grew up in Czechoslovakia in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, a small town in the mountains close to what was then the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. This provided the setting for several of his stories, drawing from his pre-war memories of the Sudetenland. They form part of his 1962 collection The Jew Car which is now available in English, published by Seagull Books and translated by Isabel Cole. David Vaughan
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.