Saturday, 17 October 2020

Poland looks into death of Poles at Czechoslovak border after war

22 February 2017

Prague, Feb 21 (CTK) - Polish state attorneys have started to look into the death of the Poles who died hit by electric power when attempting to cross the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia, Neela Winkelmann, executive director of the European Memory and Conscience Platform, says in a press release sent to CTK yesterday.
The platform says Lubomir Strougal, former Czechoslovak communist premier and interior minister, bears the biggest responsibility for the deaths of all living guilty persons.
"According to a study conducted by the European Memory and Conscience Platform, the former member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party politbureau, Lubomir Strougal, is responsible for the death of minimally 60 persons killed at the Iron Curtain in the period of communism," the press release says.
"When he was the interior minister, the Iron Curtain was charged with 4000-6000 volts, which caused cruel death to the refugees who tried to cross the border to the West," the platform writes.
The Czech police also investigated Strougal's responsibility in connection with the use of high voltage, but they concluded that the issue is statute-barred.
Strougal, 92, dismisses having neglected and caused anything. He says the switching off of power was delayed by political negotiations.
The platform has also filed a complaint against Strougal and Milous Jakes, former secretary general of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC), in Germany over the death of five Germans at the border.
Strougal's Czech citizenship is not an obstacle to his possible prosecution in Poland or Germany if the conditions according to the Polish or German law are fulfilled.
The Poles or Germans can ask the Czech Republic for legal aid, for instance, for information or evidence needed for the criminal proceedings or witnesses' questioning.
The communists started to build the Iron Curtain in 1951. In 1952-57, the space between the walls of the fence was mined and in 1952, the barrier was fitted with high voltage conductors. Electric power was only switched off in the mid-1960s.
The Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) has created an interactive map that provides information on the inhabitants of Czechoslovakia and foreigners who died at the border.
It authors say that minimally 266 people died at the border in 1948-89. The application registers 22 Poles.

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