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Unique museum of Czech Germans to open in north Bohemia

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Prague, May 17 (CTK) – A museum of the German-speaking population of the Czech Lands will open in the north Bohemian centre Usti nad Labem next year, after decades of debates and three years of preparations, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes on Tuesday, adding that the project is unique in Central Europe.

Nothing prevents the museum’s opening now that it gained 50 million crowns as the last subsidy from the Culture Ministry for the completion of the project, the daily writes.

The museum plans to present the 800-year period of Czech history for which both Czechs and Germans inhabited the Czech Lands and which ended with the mass transfer of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War Two.

The organisers, led by Blanka Mouralova and Jan Sicha, will open a part of the large permanent exhibition next year.

The whole museum, on the area of 1,500 square metres, might start its full operation in 2018, when 100 years will have elapsed since the birth of independent Czechoslovakia.

“It is definitely a breakthrough, not only in our efforts to open the museum but also in Czech-German relations,” Mouralova is quoted as saying.

The opening of the museum is also important because the generation of eyewitnesses of the inter-war period in which Czechs, Germans and Jews coexisted in Czechoslovakia is dying out, the paper writes.

The museum wants to present the world of Czech Germans that has almost disappeared by now.

It will show the Germans as someone who significantly contributed to the culture of the Czech Lands, MfD writes.

“The project has won respect among international museum institutions for its modern and European approach to the question of minorities,” Sicha, who is the author of the exhibition, said.

Ivo Losman, from the Foreign Ministry, said the exhibition aims to show that the highlighting of the Czech Germans issue not only does not need to raise controversies, but it has become a part of the positive agenda that brings the Czech Republic and Germany together.

During his latest visit to Prague, German President Joachim Gauck showed interest in the museum and asked when it would open, MfD writes.

The project also played an important role in the warming up of the previously complicated relations between the Czech Republic and Bavaria, where most of the former Czech [Sudeten] Germans live, the paper writes.

According to Mouralova, the completion of the museum has been backed by Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), the daily adds.

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