The Czech Republic may be one of the most secular nations in Europe but All Souls Day - the day of remembrance for the departed – is a sacred family tradition handed down from generation to generation. As the holiday approaches the country’s cemeteries –well-tended throughout the year – are ablaze with candles and flowers as Czechs pay their respects to the dead.
You are not very likely to wander into Svitavy by chance. Located on both the major road and railway line connecting Moravia and eastern Bohemia, for most people Svitavy is just a name on their itinerary. But if you do come and take a closer look, you’ll find a little town proud of its past and working for a better future. Once an important town for Moravia’s textile industry, re-populated after the expulsion of Svitavy’s German speaking inhabitants, it only recently showed its pride in perhaps its most famous native personality – Oskar
A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) was one of the best-known and most influential British historians of the 20th century. He is remembered in particular for his provocative left-wing political views and his conviction that German history made the country uniquely inclined towards aggression and expansionism. This made him an ardent opponent of attempts to rebuild Germany’s economy after the war, and a strong supporter of Czechoslovakia’s growing alliance with the Soviet Union. In July 1946, just after elections which saw the Communists emerge as the strongest single
A journalist, Václav Vlk, has raised a theory that a group of Sudeten German civilians killed in Dobrotín just after WWII were actually murdered by a local German communist, Robert Kautzinger, and his two sons. Mr Vlk told Czech Television that the massacre of 17 Germans in the days following the fall of the Third Reich was an act of revenge for Kautzinger’s having been sent to a concentration camp by local Nazis. The police investigator on the case still believes the murders were carried out by Czechs as vengeance killings.
The Constitutional Court decided on Wednesday that membership in the Communist Party before the fall of the totalitarian regime in itself does not prevent a judge from being able to rule without bias. According to the verdict, passed in the case of a Sudetengerman plaintiff who argued that a Hradec Králové judge was unable to rule in his case in an unbiased way due to being a former Communist party member, mere membership in the Communist Party before the fall of communism is not enough to disqualify a judge from performing his duties. Among the ideologies propagated by the party was hatred towards Sudetengermans, therefore the plaintiff argued that the judge was prejudiced towards him. According to the Constitutional Court, the fact that the Hradec Králové judge was a party member does not automatically imply that she despises Sudetengermans and is unable to make an unbiased decision in the plaintiff’s case.
The district court in Semily has confirmed the right of heiress to the Walderode noble family, Johanna Kammerlander, to local property confiscated by the Czech authorities after World War II. Former real estate belonging to the family in the Semily area includes the castle Hrubý Rohožec and surrounding property. During the war the property was owned by the family’s Karl des Fours Walderode who, as an ethnic German, was stripped of it in 1946. A year later he was given back Czechoslovak citizenship but not the confiscated assets. Mrs Kammerlander called Friday’s decision a ‘moral victory’ but estimated that years of legal battles still lay ahead.
President Václav Klaus has rejected a call to apologise for injustices
committed against ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia after World War II,
saying that apologies were not the means of addressing differences over
bore responsibility for the war and related acts. On Saturday the chairman
of the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, Franz Pany, questioned why Prague
had not made a similar gesture to that of Queen Elizabeth II on her recent
visit to Ireland. The Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft represents ethnic
Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
But Mr Klaus reacted by saying that some on the German side had rejected all apologies until now. He also said calling for an apology on the anniversary of the destruction of the village of Lidice by the Nazis 69 years ago was highly insensitive. On Saturday, some 3,000 people in the Czech Republic attended a memorial ceremony in Lidice, near Prague, where 69 years ago all male inhabitants aged 15 and higher were shot and all women and many children were sent to concentration camps. The destruction of the village was one of the most infamous acts of reprisal by the Nazis for the assassination of the acting Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich.
The chairman of the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, an organisation representing Sudeten Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, has called on President Václav Klaus to apologise for injustices committed by Czechs against ethnic Germans in the period after the war. In a speech in Augsburg on Saturday the organisation’s Franz Pany highlighted Queen Elizabeth II’s recent visit to Ireland, where the monarch spoke of a regrettable past between Britain and Ireland and offered her deepest sympathies. The Landsmannschaft head questioned why such a move, as he saw it, had not been taken by Prague. Some 2.5 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war under the Beneš decrees. Prague considers the issue of the decrees long addressed and a closed chapter in the nations’ shared history.
For many decades, a train station located right on the Czech-German border was a symbol for the division between Germany and communist Czechoslovakia. The train station once connected a Bavarian and a Czech town that both carried the same name in Czech - Železná Ruda. After World War II, it was defunct and even set to be demolished. Its re-opening in 1991 was one of the most significant events in Czech-Bavarian history after the Velvet Revolution. Now, both towns are once again collaborating – on a celebration of the twenty-year-anniversary of the
A small group of people commemorated on Saturday the victims of the
“Brno death march” during which hundreds of ethnic Germans died who had
been expelled from the city at the end of May 1945, in the wake of WWII.
Twelve people took part in the event, walking some 30 km along the route of
the march to Pohořelice, towards the Austrian border. Organizers said
rainy weather probably deterred more participants.
On May 30 and 31, 1945, some 20,000 Brno’s German-speaking citizens were rounded up by Czech paramilitaries and walked off to the border. Estimates on the number of victims vary between 1,600 and 10,000. This and several other outbursts of anti-German hatred preceded an organized and more humane expulsion of around three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.
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