A Czech noble has weighed into ongoing talks about whether the Czech state should sell one of Prague’s Baroque architectural masterpieces to its current tenants: the German embassy. For the Germans, the building is more than a 17th century architectural jewel, it is also part of their recent history.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the Austrian daily Die Presse on Sunday that the post-war Beneš decrees, which legalized the expulsion of around three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, could not be abolished. Mr Schwarzenberg admitted however the decrees were a breach of human rights, but could not be lifted retroactively. The Czech foreign minister also said it was not necessary for the Czech Parliament to pass a resolution about the decrees as a symbol of reconciliation but that the Czech society was engaged in a public debate about sensitive issues in recent Czech history.
Contrary to popular belief, the legendary 15th century Czech military leader Jan Žižka allegedly fought alongside the Teutonic Knights against the Poles in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, a representative of the order told the daily Lidové noviny on Thursday. Žižka, who later became the leader of the Hussite army fighting against the Catholics in the Czech lands and beyond, was hired as a mercenary, the order’s representative said, citing archive documents. Most Czech historians believe that Jan Žižka did take part in the battle, but on the side of the Poles against the German knights; some point out however that Bohemian and Moravian mercenaries fought on both sides.
In May 1945, millions of Czechs could breath freely again after six years of Nazi occupation. The German defeat brought about the end of the Nazi rule of terror, and the re-establishment of Czechoslovakia. But for thousands of ethnic Germans, the end of the war meant the beginning of a new ordeal. They were expelled from the country, and many of them were killed during the first day of peace. In this edition of Czech Today, Radio Prague talks to Marie Ranzenhoferová, who survived one of the violent expulsions, known today as the Brno death
The south Moravian town of Mikulov, located just on the Austrian border, was for many centuries the seat of the aristocratic family of the Dietrichsteins. After the Second World War, Mikulov chateau together with the rest of the family property was confiscated by the state. Ever since the fall of communism, Mercedes Dietrichstein, who was born in Mikulov and lives in Buenos Aires, has fought to get the family estates back. But last week, a court in nearby Břeclav dismissed the claim. Radio Prague spoke to Mercedes Dietrichstein and asked her how
A regional court has rejected Mercedes Dietrichstein’s claim to extensive family property in Mikulov, Moravia. The property was confiscated in 1946 on the grounds of the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of close to three million Germans from Czechoslovakia and the confiscation of their property. A lawyer representing the state argued that the confiscation had been legally justified since Mrs. Dietrichstein’s father had been a German national and a member of the SdP and NSDAP.
Public broadcaster Czech TV will screen a documentary film on Thursday entitled Zabíjení po česku, or ‘Killings Czech style’. It features unique footage of a massacre of over 40 ethnic Germans that took place in Prague in May, 1945, shortly after the end of the war. The authors say they want to draw attention to the atrocities committed on German civilians in post-war Czechoslovakia, though some historians believe this particular murder was carried out by Soviet troops.
German journalist and historian Andreas Wiedemann is the author of a book about the resettlement of the Sudetenland following the expulsion of the German population at the end of World War II. The title translates from German as ‛Come with us to the borderland: resettlement and new settlers in the former Sudetenland 1945-1952.’ Unlike the expulsion, the resettlement has been given scant coverage although the consequences still scar large parts of the country. I asked him why he seized upon the subject.
The Austrian president, Heinz Fischer, has lashed out against the Beneš
decrees, legislation that sanctioned the expulsion and confiscation of
property of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from post-war Czechoslovakia.
In an open letter to the Sudeten German Landsmanschaft in Austria,
President Fischer said the decrees had been a gross injustice imposed on
the Sudeten German community in post-war Czechoslovakia, and should not be
sanctioned by the European Union. He said he would fight for human rights
to be respected within and outside Austria’s borders and firmly believed
that the chance of justice being done in the present day EU was far greater
than it had been in 20th century Europe.
After the fall of communism politicians in Austria and Germany called for the decrees to be revoked, opening the way for compensation claims. President Vaclav Klaus tried to block this possibility when he demanded an opt-out from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights before signing the Lisbon Treaty late last year. In reaction to the letter, President Klaus said it was essential that the opt-out should be approved as soon as possible.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Iconic Czech brands that survived competition from the West after the fall of communism
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Cold War “king of Šumava” story brought to life in new film by Irish director
Unions: Strike Wednesday will hit most Czech schools