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Memorial Plaque For Murdered Germans

A memorial plaque was unveiled Sunday in the Czech town of Usti nad Labem for the 50 German civilians massacred here shortly after the end of World War II. Exactly 60 years earlier, on July 31, 1945 the German men, women and children who lived in the town in the north of what was then Czechoslovakia, were attacked, beaten and thrown into the river. After the war Czechoslovakia expelled some 2.5 million of its German citizens in retaliation for their support of Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia. Unveiling the bronze plaque, Usti mayor Petr Gandalovic emphasized that the victims had been innocent people killed after the end of the war. "We can't compare the suffering of German citizens to that of Czechoslovak citizens under the German occupation but it's important to emphasize that those who lost their lives here exactly 60 years ago did so several weeks after the war ended." He added: "The Czech Republic's accession to the European Union and NATO is a guarantee that the horrors of the last century cannot be repeated." Walter Erhart, whose father Gustav was killed that day, recalled how he had escaped to Germany shortly before the attack. "We Germans were without rights so I ran away to Germany but my parents were too old to leave. My father was beaten to death and then thrown into the river," Erhart, 86, told AFP. "What happened was completely wrong. The Germans were people like us Czechs," Jaroslav Musial, chairman of the Usti region of the Czech Freedom Fighters Association, told AFP. The exact number of victims is still not known.

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