Schroeder welcomes Czech anti-Nazi gesture

25th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 August 2005, BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Thursday welcomed the Czech Republic's decision formally to recognise and apologise to ethnic Germans who supported the Nazi resistance in the former Czechoslovakia - but who were expelled after 1945.

25 August 2005

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder Thursday welcomed the Czech Republic's decision formally to recognise and apologise to ethnic Germans who supported the Nazi resistance in the former Czechoslovakia - but who were expelled after 1945.

"It is a gesture to the ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia who courageously fought against the Hitler regime and tyranny and who stayed loyal to their country," said Schroeder in a statement.

The German leader termed the gesture of reconciliation by Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek as "an important contribution to bilateral relations."

Erika Steinbach, head of Germany's Federation of Expellees, also welcomed the move. "I view it as good step in the right direction," said Steinbach.

Paroubek's move is aimed at ending friction between the Czech Republic and survivors of a post-war expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans.

"The government of the Czech Republic conveys its deep appreciation ... and issues its apology to all those active opponents of Nazism, regardless of their later citizenship and homeplace," said the statement by Prague.

The two-paragraph declaration targeted only Germans who "during the Second World War remained loyal to the Czechslovak Republic and actively participated in the fight for her freedom, or suffered under Nazi terror".

These included political opponents of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia and, according to historians, about 200,000 ethnic Germans who were not expelled but lost their Czech citizenship between 1946 and 1953.

The statement did not address calls from some Sudeten expellee groups for the government to compensate for property seized from ethnic Germans and others during the expulsions which began after World War II.

Last month while meeting Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel in Vienna, Paroubek had promised the gesture to anti-Nazi Germans as an addendum to Prague's 1997 agreement with Germany, in which both sides agreed that past history should not be allowed to harm present and future bilateral ties.

The Czech leader also hoped to heal wounds opened in 2002 when former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman angered Sudetens by calling them "Hitler's fifth column".

DPA

Subject: German news

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