Former senior Communists such as one-time party general secretary Milouš Jakeš and prime minister Lubomír Štrougal are among 67 Czechs and Slovaks who face charges over the deaths of five German citizens who were killed trying to cross the Iron Curtain from Czechoslovakia to the West, the ctk news agency reported. Charges were pressed by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, a group that pushes for the punishment of perpetrators of communist-era crimes. According to the organization’s director Neela Winkelmann, it had decided to seek justice in Germany since only a few former rank-and file border guards had been convicted of killing people on the country’s borders in the Czech Republic. According to German lawyer Konrad Manz the said crimes were crimes against humanity that are not bound by a statute of limitations.
The Defence Ministry has so far recognized 1,350 people who actively fought against the communist regime and are entitled to a special financial contribution from the state as members of the so-called Third Resistance. The law on the Third Resistance, which stipulates the criteria which need to be met for the state to recognize active opposition to the former regime, came into force at the end of 2011. Those who are recognized as having been part of the active opposition are entitled to one-off payments and top-ups to their pensions. So far the Defence Ministry has registered over 4,400 applications and processed over 3,500.
The country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes is putting the final touches on a new educative portal mapping 40 years of communism in the former Czechoslovakia. Entitled Socialism Realised, the website is aimed at English-speaking audiences, from high school to university students with no experience of what it was like to live in the former system.
Russian performance artist Peter Pavlensky gave his Havel Prize for Creative Dissent to a businessman who pledged to fund a Russian group whose members have been found guilty of killing policemen, Reuters reported. Mr. Pavlensky presented the award to Yevgeni Chichvarkin in Prague on Monday. The latter pledged to donate USD 42,000 to the group Primorsky Partisans, some of whose members have been convicted of killing police officers. That amount corresponds to the cash prize that goes with the Havel award; it is bestowed by the Human Rights Foundation, which rescinded the award and the money over Mr. Pavlensky’s support for the Primorsky Partisans.
Czech singer of Greek descent Statis Prusalis, a lifelong supporter of communism who made no secret of cooperating for years with Czechoslovakia’s former secret police, died on Saturday at the age of 67. The news was confirmed by the Communist Party on twitter. In documentary testimony, Mr Prusalis said that he had worked as a chauffeur for top Communist Party dignitaries in the 1970s; he also studied music and founded the Greek-Czech folk-rock group Atény (Athens). According to news website iDnes, Prusalis, a fixture at Communist party meetings, released an album in 1999 dedicated to communist revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Several hundred people gathered in the Želiv monastery on Sunday to commemorate the 464 priests and monks, who were imprisoned there under the Communist Regime. The gathering started with a mass celebrated by Cardinal Dominik Duka and abbot Jáchym Jaroslav Šimek. The Monastery in Želiv was turned into an internment camp in the 1950s. Among the people who were interned there was Cardinal František Tomášek and Archbishop Karel Otčenášek.
This week in our series to mark Radio Prague’s 80th birthday we feature a recording made in the summer of 1946, when Radio Prague was exactly ten years old. A. J. P. Taylor was one of the best known and respected historians of mid-twentieth century Britain, and on a visit to Czechoslovakia he predicted a future for the country that would combine pluralist, parliamentary democracy with communism. David Vaughan has more.
The Constitutional Court on Thursday backed the claims of a Nazi concentration camp survivor to reclaim his parent’s home at Mimoň in the north of Bohemia. The court said that although the deadline for reclaiming property had past, the claim should be allowed and that lower court’s refusal to do so were formalistic. The claimant is the sole survivor of his family in spite of four years in Nazi camps. The family home was first confiscated as Jewish property by the Nazi regime and then by the Czechoslovak authorities after the war as German property,. The man said he only found out that his family owned the property, now a police station, during searches of archives for scant details about his family’s past.
Investigators charged three former members of the Communist-era secret police, the StB, for their role in intimidating or using violence against former Czechoslovak dissidents under Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Among those charged are former officers. All three suspects were investigated in the past; the current charges are based on new evidence.
Several dozen people took part in an event commemorating the victims of the communist regime in the hard-line 1950s in the town of Jihlava on Sunday. Eleven people sentenced to death in political trials were executed in the courtyard of the local jailhouse between 1950 and 1952, hundreds of others were jailed and thousands of families suffered at the hands of the regime. The event was organized by Jihlava City Hall, the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters and the Confederation of Political Prisoners.