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Leader: Sudeten Germans to meet in Czechia in early 2020s

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Munich, Germany, May 18 (CTK) – Sudeten German Landsmannschaft leader Bernd Posselt expects the organisation’s annual meeting to be organised in the Czech Republic in the early 2020s for the first time, he said on Friday at a press conference held before the 69th annual meeting.

“I am sure that there will be such a meeting between 2020 and 2024,” Posselt said.

Though no Czech government member will take part in the Sudeten German annual meeting this year, unlike in the previous two years, he said he was optimistic about mutual relations.

The first Czech government member to visit the Sudeten German meeting was culture minister Daniel Herman in 2016. In 2017, deputy prime minister Pavel Belobradek (both Czech Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) took part in the meeting.

Posselt, a politician of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), said the opinion that Czechs ought to talk and cooperate with Sudeten Germans prevailed in all major Czech parties except for the Communists (KSCM) and the extreme right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

He said Czech politicians sent friendly letters to apologise for not participating in the Sudeten German meeting and express hope that they could come next time. In the past, Czech politicians would not even write a letter, he added.

Posselt said more and more Czechs attended the meetings and about one thousand of them are expected to come this year.

He said a number of political parties will present themselves at the Sudeten German meeting in Augsburg, but the senior opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) will not be among them, mainly because it does not distance itself from extremism.

Posselt said the AfD boasts of support from “one of the biggest haters of Sudeten Germans” – former Czech president Vaclav Klaus.

“He wanted to anchor the Benes Decrees into the European legislation,” Posselt said.

In late 2009, Klaus threatened not to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, an EU institutional reform, unless Czechs are granted an opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. He argued that the Benes Decrees might otherwise be broken and the Sudeten Germans might claim their former property.

However, a Czech socialist government decided in 2014 that it would not demand the opt-out.

Under the decrees, issued by then Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes, ethnic Germans were stripped of citizenship and their property was confiscated, which enabled their transfer from Czechoslovakia, mainly its border regions (Sudetenland), after World War Two.

According to a Czech-German commission of historians, 15,000 up to 30,000 Germans died during the wild phase of the transfer. In 1939-1945, when the Czech Lands were occupied by Nazi Germany and Slovakia was a fascist puppet state, up to 350,000 inhabitants of Czechoslovakia were killed, most of whom were Jews whom the Nazis planned to completely exterminate.

The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft represents the interests of Germans deported from Czechoslovak territory after WW2 and of their offspring.

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