Historians say that during the expulsions several thousand Germans were murdered, several thousand committed suicide, and many thousands more died as a consequence of the harsh conditions in Czech-run holding camps.
Given the time that has elapsed, the number of surviving expellees is naturally dwindling and the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft’s gatherings are today considerably smaller than they once were. “This national group, with its dialects and traditions and so on, is disappearing. Soon nothing will be left of it,” says Dušek.
The director is also concerned that over six decades later, Czechs – particularly in the border areas formerly known as the Sudetenland – have still not come to terms with the expulsions and the loss of the German influence that had, for many centuries, been a strong element of the culture in this part of the world.
The issue was considered somewhat taboo for many years, says Dušek, whose first film “Poustevna, Das ist Paradies” (“A Town Called Hermitage”) – co-directed with Ondřej Provazník – focused on another rootless North Bohemian town, Dolní Poustevna, and won the best Czech documentary prize at the 2007 Jihlava festival.
“My own parents worked in the local museum in Česká Lípa and there were all these items there like old furniture, and information about life and industry in the town in the past. But there isn’t one word anywhere about the previous inhabitants,” says the director “Whatever you think about the guilt for World War II, that fact is just missing.”