Saturday, 10 August 2019

Event commemorates obliteration of Volhynian Czechs' village

ČTK |
23 July 2018

Zatec, North Bohemia, July 22 (CTK) - Volhynian Czechs and their offspring and guests met in Zatec on Sunday to commemorate the obliteration of Cesky Malin, a village of ethnic Czechs in Volhynia, an area in northwest Ukraine, by the Nazis 75 years ago.

In the raid, the Nazis brutally murdered most of the village's inhabitants.

The commemorative event on Sunday started with laying of wreaths at the memorial to the Cesky Malin victims.

Speeches followed, in which the participants stressed the need not only to remember wartime events but also teach in schools about them.

"My cousin in Cesky Malin and his wife and a small child perished [in the Nazi raid]. The cousin was shot dead and his wife, together with their small girl, climbed a tree in belief that this may save their lives, but still they were killed," an 89-year-old woman, which arrived from her home town elsewhere in north Bohemia, told CTK during the ceremony.

In Ukraine, people commemorated the Cesky Malin tragedy on July 13, the date when the Nazi raid started 75 years ago, claiming 569 brutally killed victims.

"I remember the events very well. I was nine then. Everyone showed despair and regret at the massive murdering and the destruction of so beautiful a village. All of us were frightened. Our lives were permanently in danger," another witness, Emilie Hasilova, told CTK.

During WW2, Volhynian men joined the Czechoslovak unit of General Ludvik Svoboda on its way, together with the Red Army, across Ukraine westwards and fought with it in the Dukla Pass battle near what is the Slovak-Polish border now. Some used the opportunity to return to their Czech homeland at the time.

"We used the chance of illegal departure [from Ukraine] in 1945. We left with two handbags only," Hasilova said.

Bozena Krejcova returned to then Czechoslovakia within a re-migration project in 1947.

"Our great thanks go to [then Czechoslovak] president Edvard Benes, whom we honour and appreciate. We owe him our return home," she said.

At the close of the meeting on Sunday, the participants met at the local bust of Edvard Benes (1883-1948, president in 1935-1948), whose creation and installation in Zatec was financed by Volhynian Czechs.

About 16,000 Czechs left their homeland, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for Russia in the 1870s and 1880s, and most often them settled in Volhynia.

In February 1947, Zatec was the final stop of a train bringing some 10,000 Volhynian Czech families within their post-war repatriation.

There still lived 10,000 of Czech compatriots in the Soviet Ukraine in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, Czechoslovakia invited them to return to Bohemia and Moravia. Almost 2,000 people accepted the offer in 1993 and further ones returned to the Czech Republic later.

Those still staying in Ukraine show interest in repatriation.

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