Prague, May 19 (CTK) – Some Czech politicians consider the decrees issued by Czechoslovak president President Edvard Benes in 1945 outdated, while others criticise the reopening of this issue, they told CTK in a poll among representatives of the parties in parliament and President Milos Zeman on Saturday.
They cannot agree to what extent the decrees, on the basis of which about three million ethnic Germans were transferred from former Czechoslovakia, mainly the border regions (Sudetenland), after World War Two and their property was confiscated, still influence Czech-German relations.
The politicians commented on the issue in reaction to the statement by German Interior Ministry State Secretary Stephan Mayer (Christian Democrats, SCU). He said the Benes decrees had nothing to do in the current Europe, at the Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft (SL) meeting in Augsburg, Bavaria, on Saturday. He added that this was his personal opinion.
Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek told CTK that the issue of the Benes degrees was closed for the Christian Democrats. “Colleagues from the CSU as well as Sudeten Germans know the good and we are mainly focusing on how to further improve Czech-German relations,” he noted.
Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman Petr Fiala said the controversial issues from the past had been overcome, among others thanks to the Czech-German Declaration from 1997.
“We have good, still developing bilateral relations on all levels, not only the political one. Returns to the past will help nothing, but fortunately they cannot have a major impact on the present relations,” Fiala told CTK.
Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek called Mayer’s statements portentous and arrogant, harming Czech-German relations.
“Moreover, if they are pronounced at the time we commemorated the defeat of the German Nazism, they are unforgivable. In any case, Czech history will not be rewritten according to the wishes of Mayer and company,” he said.
TOP 09 deputy group head Miroslav Kalousek said he considered the Benes decrees “an old, dead affair.”
“This standard can never be repeated in Europe. I am firmly convinced that no similar statements can threaten relations of our countries unless someone abused this,” he told CTK.
On the contrary, Communist (KSCM) chairman Vojtech Filip does not consider the Benes decrees issue outdated.
“If it had been overcome, they would not have opened it constantly abroad. Exactly those people harm good bilateral relations. We know at least of whom we should beware,” Filip told CTK.
Mayors and Independents (STAN) chairman Petr Gazdik said this issue was unfortunately “still resonating” in society. In this respect, he reminded of the first Czech direct presidential election in 2013 when this issue had played an important role.
“In my opinion, the Benes decrees are legally burnt out and we should not base anything on them or return to them. I cannot imagine anything similar to be submitted in the current Europe,” he added.
“The Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) rejects any efforts to question the results of WWII and we categorically condemn the fraternising of KDU-CSL and TOP 09 MPs with the Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft whose members were provably hardcore Nazis and fascists and they are repeatedly attempting to challenge the Benes decrees,” ultra-right anti-EU SPD chairman Tomio Okamura said.
No Czech government member attended the meeting of theLandsmannschaft, representing Sudeten German deportees and refugees from the Sudetenland in former Czechoslovakia, this year.
The first official representative of a Czech government to address it was culture minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL) in 2016. Last year, Belobradek as deputy PM delivered a speech at the SL meeting.
According to the Czech-German commission of historians, 15,000 up to 30,000 Germans died during the wild phase of their transfer from Czechoslovakia.
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.