With the 80th anniversary of the Munich agreement coming soon, Tom McEnchroe focused on the Czech side of Munich. Talking to the deputy director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Ondřej Matějka, about what it was like to live in the region that lay at the heart of the conflict, as well as how Munich is remembered in the Czech Republic today.
This Sunday will mark the 80th anniversary of the infamous Munich agreement - the deal between Hitler, Mussolini and the two western European powers, which cut off the German speaking borderlands from Czechoslovakia, including a significant part of its industry and protective ring of forts, thus rendering the young republic defenceless to any future German invasion. Munich is often seen as a betrayal of the Czechoslovak state by western powers and the French were famously ashamed for breaking their alliance. But why did the Great powers act as they
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.
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