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Closing of Czech universities by Nazis remembered in Prague

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Prague, Nov 17 (CTK) – Dozens of people, including 98-year-old eye witness Vojmir Srdecny, remembered the closing of Czech universities by Nazi Germans on November 17, 1939 outside a university building in the city’s centre on Friday.

“Most of us were 20 years old. The German army and the Gestapo entered university campuses in Prague, Brno and Pribram. They drove us in trucks to the barracks in Prague-Ruzyne. Nine student leaders were murdered there without any trial. Vaclav Safranek was the youngest of them, he was not even 19 years old then,” Srdecny said.

He recalled that two years after these tragic events representatives of student organisations and allied governments met in London and declared November 17 the International Students’ Day to pay respect to the executed and tortured students who were the first to oppose the Nazi oppressors.

Srdecny said more than 1,000 Czechoslovak students were dragged to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He said his effort to get the list of then inmates from the camp’s archive finally succeeded this year and that he handed this list to the Czech authorities.

Senate chairman Milan Stech (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Czech politicians sometimes abused the 1939 and the 1989 events for their own purposes.

“For example, they scare people almost before every elections that the country might return before 1989,” Stech said.

He said a majority of the public does not want the communist regime to return and such a return would not be possible anyway.

“We have a functioning democratic Constitution… There have recently been efforts to reinterpret it and sometimes with a big lot of creative fantasy. But there are strong safeguards, we have the Constitutional Court and the Senate, and a radical change of regime would not be easy to carry out. There is no reason to sound the alarm and panic,” Stech said.

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