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.
The German embassy in Prague will open its doors to schoolchildren and other visitors on Thursday to mark 25 years since communism in Europe began to collapse. The embassy will recall what grew into a flood of East German refugees in 1989 travelling to Prague and climbing over the then-West German embassy walls to escape totalitarianism. By September, thousands had done so, camping on the embassy grounds, before they were allowed to seek refuge in West Germany. The embassy will be open to the public on Thursday afternoon and will see discussions with former East Germans who fled, former officials who helped them, and others including author Jaroslav Rudiš and artist David Černý.
Addressing a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft on Sunday, Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer said more time and patience would be required to overcome the injustices of WWII. He said Bavaria was opening a representative office in Prague which pointed to above-standard relations and expressed the hope that more high-placed Czech government representatives would attend meetings of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft in the coming years. This year’s meeting heard calls, among others from Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller, for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The appeal was rejected by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who said that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected an appeal by Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said at a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft that the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The Czech prime minister countered that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.
Much of the border areas of the Czech Republic still bear the scars of the expulsion of some of the estimated three million ethnic Germans at the end of the Second World War. Many of the towns and villages were only partially repopulated, often with people who lacked the basic skills of the people they replaced. The result has often been the slow death or disappearance of communities altogether or their continued existence in conditions which lag behind the rest of the country. A project to try and put some of these areas on a new path has now been
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