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Exhibition on WWII forced labour opens in Czech Centre in Munich

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Berlin, Feb 2 (CTK correspondent) – The exhibition entitled “Lost Memory,”, which opened in the Czech Centre in Munich on Thursday, maps the fates of people sent to forced labour and the places in the present-day Czech Republic where they worked during World War Two, its curator Adam Alfons has told CTK.

“More than 300,000 people were deported to forced labour to border areas in the territory of the pre-war Czechoslovakia,” Alfons, from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) in Prague, said.

Some 240,000 of them were civilians and about 70,000 war hostages, he added.

Czechoslovak citizens made up the largest group of some 100,000 people, about 85,000 of whom lived in the Sudetenland, which was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, and other 18,000 daily commuted from the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

However, citizens of other countries, such as Poland and the Soviet Union (up to 60,000 together), France (roughly 20,000), Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia were sent to forced labour.

“There are thousands rather than hundreds of forced labour places. I think that there is hardly any village in the borderland where at least one forced labourer did not stay,” Alfons said.

The authors have selected 18 places mainly in the former borderland for the exhibition, including Cheb, west Bohemia, Most, Liberec, both north Bohemia, and Bohumin, north Moravia.

The exhibition consists of 20 large-scale panels with period and current photographs and texts in Czech and German. They tell personal stories of forced labourers and witness about their hard working conditions.

“In the exhibition, we used the forced labour term in a slightly broader context. For instance, all Jews and Romanies in the territory of the Protectorate were also forced to work,” said Alfons, explaining why they included Terezin, an internment camp for Jews in north Bohemia, and Hodonin u Kunstatu, where Romanies from Moravia were interned.

The touring exhibition, which is also presented on the project’s website, will be held in Munich until March 6.

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