Stoiber Enters Sudeten German Row, Defends Expellees | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.05.2007

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Germany

Stoiber Enters Sudeten German Row, Defends Expellees

Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber on Sunday criticized the decrees legitimizing the expulsion of several million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II.

The Bavarian prime minister does his bit for German-Czech relations

The Bavarian prime minister does his bit for German-Czech relations

"The Benes decrees are incompatible with the law, the spirit and the culture of Europe," he told a rally of the Sudeten German Association in the Bavarian city of Augsburg.

Stoiber said human rights, freedom, justice and the right to a homeland were basic rights in the European Union. The future of Europe could be built on this, he said, not on a set of laws leading to expulsions.

Laws proclaimed by the late President Edvard Benes led to the confiscation of German property and the deportation of Sudeten Germans, who were collectively accused of having been Nazi collaborators.

Many died in the brutal expulsions and hundreds of thousands later settled in Germany and Austria, where they and their descendants still live, preserving their dialect and folk customs.

Stoiber defended the Sudeten German Association from criticism by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who said the real goal of the organization was to wreck Czech-German relations.

"The opposite is true," said the Bavarian premier, who also called for the creation of a national center against expulsions in Berlin.

Opposition to national expellee center

Ausstellung Flucht Vertreibung Integration in Bonn

Exhibitions have told the story but no permament site exists

The Czech government and Poland are opposed to such a center, fearing it could attempt to rewrite history by portraying Germans as victims of the war.

On Saturday, Sudeten German leader Bernd Posselt urged the government in Prague to end its "hysterical fear" of the group and hold round table discussions to help rebuild trust.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek declined an invitation to attend the two-day rally in Augsburg on the grounds that his presence would not contribute to improving German-Czech relations.

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