It’s probably widely accepted these days that all countries spy on each other, even states on their so-called allies. And a book presented in Prague this week about the former East German secret police, the STASI, shows how it was true of the fraternal Communist countries of the former Eastern bloc, including former Czechoslovakia, as well.
A Prague court of appeal has rejected a property claim by Ernst Waldstein-Wartenberg pertaining to real estate in Prague’s prestigious Lesser Town. The buildings in Malá Strana and Hradčany were confiscated by the state on the grounds of the Benes decrees. The court of appeal upheld an earlier ruling by a Prague district court, according to which the claimant failed to meet the requirements of the law on restitution.
A group of young Czechs are currently raising funding to bring now elderly Germans expelled from the Czech lands after WWII to Prague in November for events including a concert and an exhibition. Unlikely as it may sound, they also want to highlight friendships between expelled Germans and the Czechs who today live in their former homes. I discussed the project with one of its initiators, Vlaďka Vojtíšková of Smíření (Reconciliation) 2016.
The Czech and German secret services have released a joint publication about the activities of the German Federal Intelligence service during the so-called Prague Spring pro-democracy movement in 1968. It contains original documents and never before published photographs from the archive of the German secret service, concerning Prague Spring and occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops, head of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information Jaroslav Hrbek told the Czech News Agency. The Czech-German document can be downloaded for free from the website of the office.
Germany is to pay compensation to remaining elderly victims of the Roma Holocaust who suffered during WWII in concentration camps such as Lety or the death camp Auschwitz. Each will receive a one-off payment of around 2,560 euros in the coming months. The agreement was reached with the help of the Czech Foreign Ministry and former special envoy on Holocaust issues, Jiří Šitler (now the Czech ambassador to Stockholm).
Exactly 70 years ago, the Czechoslovak government launched the expulsion of ethnic Germans (the so-called Sudeten Germans) to the Soviet zone, which would later become East Germany. The transfer of around three million Germans in retaliation for Nazi atrocities started immediately after the end of WWII, first with the so-called wild expulsions, which were uncontrolled and often violent. The organised transfer, initiated by president Edvard Beneš, proceeded according to the Potsdam Conference from January until October 1946, first to the American and then to the Soviet zone. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people were murdered during the expulsions or died from hunger and illness as a consequence.
On May 31st 1945, in the aftermath of WW II, some twenty thousand German-speaking inhabitants of Brno were driven from their homes and forced to walk the 50 km distance to the Austrian border. Close to 2,000 of them died of exhaustion on the way. On Saturday some 250 people took part in the 10th annual Reconciliation March held in memory of those who suffered and died in the wildcat expulsions of German-speaking inhabitants from the border areas of post-war Czechoslovakia. Jaroslav Odstrčilík, the organizer of the event, explains the significance
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has justified a government minister attending a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft association last weekend saying that given today’s state of Europe the Czech Republic needed allies. Sobotka’s comments came in an interview with the daily Právo. Christian Democrat Minister for Culture, Daniel Herman, attended the meeting in Nuremburg last Saturday. The Prime Minister said the leadership of the Sudeten association has signalled it wants to drop claims for the return of property after around 3 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII. This, he added, was a significant sign the association wanted to focus on the future. Sobotka stressed though that it was the Sudeten Germans that contributed initially to the break up of Czechoslovakia and the expulsion of Czechs from border territories where the Germans were in the majority in 1938.
The annual meeting of the Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft in Nuremberg over the weekend is perceived as a turning point in the reconciliation between Czechs and Sudeten Germans. For the first time ever the Czech government sent an official representative to the gathering –Culture Minister Daniel Herman - who addressed the assembly as “dear compatriots”, expressing regret over the injustices that had broken up long years of fruitful coexistence.
Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman on Sunday addressed a gathering of the
Sudeten German Landsmannschaft in German, greeting participants as “dear
compatriots” for which he received a hearty round of applause. The
minister said that the identity of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia had long
been formed by Czechs, Germans, Jews, Romanies and Poles; a fruitful
co-habitation broken up by the tragic events of the twentieth century. The
minister expressed regret over all acts –both on the Sudeten German and
Czech side – which undermined trust and mutual understanding.
This is the first time that the Czech government has sent an official representative to a meeting of the Landsmannschaft association. Relations between the Czech government and the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft improved after the association confirmed that it would no longer strive for financial compensation or the return of property confiscated from the 2.5 million Sudeten Germans driven from post-war Czechoslovakia under the Beneš decrees.
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