The Brno council has made a declaration of regret for events in the city at the end of May 1945 when German citizens were expelled as part of post-WWII reprisals. Around 20,000 Germans were forced to march from Brno to Austria at that time, with around a tenth dying of exhaustion along the way. After the passing of the Declaration of Reconciliation and Common Future on Tuesday evening, the mayor of the Czech Republic's second city, Petr Vokřál, said he and his fellow councillors hoped all past wrongs could be forgiven.
The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, an organization representing the interests of Sudeten Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, on the grounds of the so-called Benes decrees, will no longer strive for the return of property to the expellees and their descendants, according to a statement the organization released to the press on Sunday. At a weekend conference the SL amended its statutes, dropping the passage stating it would fight for the return of confiscated Sudeten German property and replacing it with a commitment to strive for a European arrangement where basic human rights, including the right to a homeland and self-determination would be fully respected. The organization says it will strive for the Charter of Fundamental Rights to be valid across the EU. Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus demanded an exemption from the charter for his country on the grounds that it could open the door to a wave of Sudeten German property claims, but the present centre-left government said last year it no longer wanted the opt-out. The possibility of Sudeten German restitutions have been a major issue of contention between the two countries.
In this week's Panorama, I am joined by Vilém Prečan, the chairman and founder of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre. Along with photographer Karel Cudlín, he is the co-author of a new Czech-German book called Německý podzim v Praze 1989, or The German Autumn in Prague, 1989. This book chronicles a very particular set of events, namely the 1989 exodus of East Germans via the West German embassy in Prague, which ultimately led to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
President Miloš Zeman is attending freedom celebrations in Leipzig marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism.The celebrations opened on October 9th on the day when, 25 years ago, 70,000 people gathered on Leipzig square for a peaceful demonstration against the communist regime in then East Germany. The event sparked similar protests in towns around the country that ended in the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th. The freedom celebrations attended by an estimated 150,000 people, including heads of state from the former Eastern block and VIP guests from around the world, will include a prayer for peace and a festival of lights highlighting a ring-road around the historical town center.
Twenty-five years ago, the West German Embassy in a normally quiet part of Prague’s Malá Strana became a refuge for hundreds of East Germans, desperately trying to escape from communism. On September 30 1989, they got the news they were hoping for, when West Germany’s foreign minister stood before them and announced they were free to emigrate to the West.
Events are being held at the German Embassy in Prague to mark the 25th anniversary of the transit of thousands of East German refugees through what was then the diplomatic mission of West Germany. Among those taking part is then West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who on September 30 1989 told thousands of refugees camped in the embassy’s grounds that they could travel to his country. The current German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is also taking part in the anniversary celebrations, as are around 150 of those who fled to the West at the time.
A procession of Trabant cars is set to pass through Prague on Monday afternoon, marking the 25th anniversary of the passage of thousands of East German refugees through the then West German Embassy in the city. From September 30, 1989 many East Germans abandoned their Trabants near the embassy in the Malá Strana district as they sought asylum. Around 4,000 reached the West in this way. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who was West German foreign minister at the time, and around 150 of the then refugees will visit Prague on Tuesday.
Lukáš Houdek is a man of varied interests. As well as being a photographer who has explored the post-war massacres of Czechoslovakia’s ethnic Germans, he is co-curator of an exhibition entitled Transgender Me that gets underway in Prague on Monday. In addition, Houdek, a Romani Studies graduate, writes for a leading Roma affairs website; indeed, for much of our interview I was under the mistaken impression that he himself was a member of the ethnic minority.
The German embassy in Prague is marking the 25th anniversary of the East German exodus. In the summer of 1989, several thousand citizens of communist East Germany sought refuge at the West German embassy in Prague in a prelude to the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate these historic events, the embassy on Thursday opened its doors to the public.
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