For many years, I have enjoyed reading articles on PI, I find this blog to be first-class, and the articles have contributed quite a bit to my education regarding subjects such as Islam or EU. Often already, I thought I will write an article about some subject, but then I didn’t feel too sure about myself – in language as well as content. But now, this week two articles just appeared that I – as native Czech and at the same time friend of Germany – must definitely comment on. Because, as Michael Stürzenberger rightly complains about the politically correct Munich newspapers – first the view of the other party completes the argumentation and makes it possible to paint a proper picture.
(By J. Cimrman, Prague)
The first article from Kewil “Czech Republic: Hate of Sudeten Germans decides election” appeared day before yesterday and deals surprisingly with the fact that the postwar decrees by Czech president Beneš needs to be annulled before the Czech Republic’s joining the EU. Today, the same subject is commented on far more richly in “Berlusconi praises Mussolini” in the sense as though people in Europe make a diametrical distinction between the evil occupation of the Czech Republic and the good ejection of the Germans after the war.
I believe that two things are being mixed up by the German authors – whether intentionally or not – so that they can pursue the so-loved self evisceration that in other contexts are by all rights criticized on PI otherwise. It is definitely not normal to be educated to self-hate by the school, the media and ones political representatives! In contrast to the Germans, other Europeans thankfully don’t recognize these methods of reeducation. A pragmatic Czech sees the issue somewhat like the following:
The human side
After the war, things were pretty nasty for the German people, they were dispossessed, hunted and not seldom abused. It was the result of what the Germans wreaked in the previous years and was agreed upon by the winning powers. (If the Russians had not carried the main burden of liberation, that under Stalin in this very way – through complete resettlement – that solved the problems of nationality in their giant realm, then things would have been considerably different for the Germans in the Czech Republic and Poland)
The Germans regret what they did during the war, the Czechs likewise have also come to express their regrets about the postwar excesses.
AND THAT’S THAT!
Therefore, at least for normally ticking people, they accept the fact that the coexistence of the many nationalities in the tight European area means a sheer, non-ending array of beautiful neighborly experiences, but also monstrous wars and abominable acts.
This condition is expressed reasonably in the German-Czech Declaration of Mutual Apology of 1997 that was accepted by the parliaments of both countries. Summary from Wikipedia:
The Declaration is comprised of a preamble and eight points. Point one draws from the further development of relations “in the spirit of neighborliness and partnership,” in which the “joint road to the future” calls for “a clear word regarding the past.“
In the second point, German regret is expressed regarding the Munich Agreement, the destruction and occupation of the Czechoslovakian Republic and the National Socialist rule of violence; in the third point Czech regret over suffering and injustice through the forced resettlement, dispossession and denial of citizenship of the Sudeten Germans as well as the fact that excesses went unpunished.
Point four is central, which determines that “each side remain obligated to their rule of law and respect the fact that the other side has a different legal concept. Both sides therefore declare that they will not burden their relationships with the stirring up of political and legal questions from the past.“
I would like to add my personal view here. My father – a Czech who grew up in Austria – miraculously survived the bombing of Dresden, since he lived in the middle of the old city and all the houses there were completely destroyed. He fled from the city of ruins – where any order dissolved and where the German soldiers, who themselves had to watch over the recovery of the bodies, ended up killing each other – to Aussig on the Elbe where parents of his German wife lived (father a German, mother a Czech). He experienced there tirades of hate from his sister-in-law who said all Czechs would have their heads cut off before the end of the war. She wasn’t in the position to realize that she was spouting such stupidity in a mixed family and seriously believed that things were totally different – her family and the Czechs.
The next few months until the end of the war, my father lived in Prague, ultimately fought against the German panzers at the barricade in Prague 5 and always told about the monstrous atrocities that happened on both sides – by German SS snipers that eradicated whole families by ambush, and of the Czech “Guardsmen” that forced women to clean glass shards away with their bare hands. And then back in Aussig, he experienced the 18-year-old Czech Guardsmen that hung around home the whole war and threw German women along with baby strollers into the Elbe and fired at them with their Kalashnikovs. And the death of his best friend, a German soldier who was seriously injured because he wanted to flee over the border.
I’m writing in such detail about this because, in case someone thinks he can identify a good and a bad nation in this confusion, he would have to be a complete idiot!
The legal side
With the first human aspect, some people mix up the legalities – in this case, the Decrees of President Beneš that was given without a functioning parliament and applied as laws. These decrees, in the Czech view, must remain intact for the simple reason that, because of their removal, the possibility would arise for the descendants of those who were expelled to sue for the property of that time in the Czech courts. This would have unforeseeable consequences for the current owners who are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who bought it 70 years ago.
Because affluent and aristocracy without a nationality like presidential candidate
Schlafenberg Schwarzenberg follow this very line and want to make the dispossession of the Sudeten Germans retroactive (in order to come again into possession of the many lovely estates), they have been hindered from doing so by the majority of Czechs. Because surely it cannot be profitable to open this Pandara’s box just for the sake of the money.
Behind the rejection of candidate von Schwarzenberg hide his intentions and his completely impossible personality, but certainly no hate against the Sudeten Germans! It is much more an expression of the understandable wish of any normal person to leave in peace the issues that happened three generations ago.
Schwarzenberg in action in parliament (left behind the speaker):
(Photo above: The Charles Bridge, the symbol of Prague)
Guest article on PI / Translation: Anders Denken