Prague, Sept 22 (CTK) – A memorial plaque to those whom the Sudeten German Party of Konrad Henlein forced out of their homes in Czechoslovak border regions in 1938 will be unveiled at Prague’s Masaryk Railway Station in early November, Jaroslav Tesinsky, from the Centre of Czech History, told CTK Tuesday.
The unveiling ceremony at the Masaryk Railway Station will be held under the auspices of Senate chairman Milan Stech.
The Czech, Jewish and anti-Nazi German refugees arrived on trains at the station in the dramatic days after the signing of the Munich Agreement that had approved the German annexation of the border regions (Sudetenland). Over 370,000 people had to leave their homes then.
“Many of them had means to survive only a few days. They had nothing to eat, nowhere to live,” Tesinsky said.
He said organisations such as the Czechoslovak Red Cross, the Sokol and Orel sport movements and the Skaut scouting group as well as individuals provided aid to the refugees.
The Czechoslovak government gradually earmarked money for the aid, fundraising campaigns were organised and even foreign donors contributed financially, Tesinsky said.
The stories of German-speaking Czechoslovak citizens who fled or were deported to Germany after the end of World War Two have recently been highlighted, while the stories of the people who were driven out of their homes in 1938 seem to have fallen into oblivion, he pointed out.
It is estimated that about 20,000 German democrats were forced to flee inland. “The vast majority of them were officials and the most active members of German social democrats and communists,” Tesinsky said.
Henlein’s party focused primarily on those who actively defended the Czechoslovak Republic, participated in anti-Nazi events, helped Czechoslovak bodies maintain peace and order in the border regions or joined the voluntary State Defence Guard, he added.
The Centre of Czech History association has called on eye witnesses or their descendants to share their stories or any documents related to the 1938 event.
The association cooperates with the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities and the Seliger Gemeinde group, which associates former members of the German Social Democratic Party in Czechoslovakia.
“The unveiling of the memorial plaque will pay respect to the Czechoslovak citizens who found courage to resist Nazism or fell victim to it,” Tesinsky said.