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Culture Minister Herman to attend Sudeten German congress

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Berlin, May 12 (CTK) – Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) will be the first government member to take part officially in the Sudeten German congress scheduled for this weekend, Sudeten German Homeland Association (SL) Hildegard Schuster told CTK yesterday.
Herman’s presence will contribute to further progress in the reconciliation between Sudeten Germans and Czechs, Schuster said.
The Culture Ministry has confirmed the information.
“Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has officially told his Bavarian opposite number Horst Seehofer, patron of the Sudeten German group, that for the first time in history, the Czech government will send a minister to an SL congress,” Schuster said.
“It will be Herman,” she added.
Later yesterday, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Herman’s participation in the SL congress “is fully within the context of the present very good Czech-German and also Czech-Bavarian relations.”
“I consider it natural for the culture minister to attend the event where the people who adhere to their Bohemian and Moravian roots meet and remember their culture and customs, and where Czechs and Germans have been regularly meeting each others for many years,” Sobotka said in a press release.
In recent years, voices at the SL meetings have been oriented towards the common future in Europe, and the SL has given up all property claims, Sobotka said.
“As Czechs, we know what the relation between the cause and the consequence was in the 20th century. The German Nazis destroyed Czechoslovakia, unleashed the war, were rightfully defeated and Germany dearly paid for it,” Sobotka said.
Now it is the time to look in the future and seek issues that link the two nations in Europe, he added.
On Sunday, Herman will deliver a greeting at the congress.
Herman already visited the SL congress several times, but never in his official capacity of a government member.
“As I am very close to the topic, dealing with it for over 30 years on the basis of the experience of my own family, the choice is more or less logical,” Herman said.
Herman has several times attended the SL congress as a member of the Czech-German Discussion Forum Council, formed on the basis of the Czech-German declaration signed in 1997.
Herman is also chairman of the Czech Catholic Ackermann-Gemeinde, the sister organisation of the German association, for the second term.
Many of my relatives did not survive the atrocities of the German National Socialism,” Herman said.
“As a result, I am well acquainted with the issue. I am of the view that one can not say that ethnic and political affiliation are the same,” he added.
“One cannot say Germans, having in mind Nazis and one cannot say Russians, having in mind Communists, Bolsheviks and the like,” Herman said.
Herman should resign over his planned presence at the SL congress, Communist (KSCM) leader Vojtech Filip said.
“The confirmation of Herman’s participation in the Sudeten German congress on the days we remember the 71st anniversary of Victory not only violated the agreements between Germany and former Czechoslovakia, but it is also a treason and spitting into the face of all those who died for our freedom,” Filip told CTK.
In the speech passed to CTK, Herman will speak about understanding and forgiveness.
Herman said as a politician he claimed the words of regret expressed by former president Vaclav Havel after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990.
Havel said expelling Germans from the Czech Lands was an immoral act, motivated by revenge, not by justice.
SL chairman Bernd Posselt has welcomed Herman’s trip to the congress in Nuremberg.
“This is a strong signal of good progress in the process of reconciliation,” Posselt said.
He thanked the Czech government for insisting on a good policy of neighbourhood in the European spirit.
Last year, Czech Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (KDU-CSL) sent a video recording along with a greeting to the congress, which was applauded by the Sudeten Germans.
About 2.5 million Germans were transferred from Czechoslovakia, mainly its border regions (Sudetenland) in the aftermath of World War Two, most of them settling down in Bavaria and Austria. Their property was confiscated.
In recent years, the relationship between Sudeten Germans considerably improved. This was also thanks to the SL having dropped its demand to have the confiscated property returned.

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