The center of the town of Postoloprty in northern Bohemia
Bike tours around the sites of Czech executions and other violence against the German-speaking population at the end of WWII are being offered by a Czech researcher in what he describes as an educational experience primarily aimed at the young.
Research chemist Jiří Blažek, 29, is offering the tours, billed as being on the tracks of “Killing Czech–style” [the title of an award-winning television documentary about the Czech violence against the local Sudeten German population at the end of the war].
The upcoming five-day tour, sometimes involving daily distances of around 60 kilometers, covers south Moravia with the price including board and breakfast coming to Kč 3,000. Previous trips, limited each time to 20-25 participants, have been heavily oversubscribed with interest from Czechs and the descendents of the German speakers mostly expelled to Austria and Germany. ‘I am disappointed that the so-called ‘wild expulsion’ of the Germans is still treated as a just payback, as something that the Germans deserved.’
Blažek told Czech daily Lidové noviny that the main aim of the tours are to shed light on an historical episode which is mostly ignored or glossed over in the county. “I am disappointed that the so-called ‘wild expulsion’ of the Germans is still treated as a just payback, as something that the Germans deserved. This is in spite of the fact that it was overwhelming based on violence which had no foundation in any judicial grounds,” he told the paper.
The closing days of WWII, when the then Nazi-dominated Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was liberated by US and Soviet forces, resulted in a wave of vengeance against German-speaking inhabitants of former Czechoslovakia. Many of them had backed the calls for autonomy and eventual independence from Czechoslovakia with the so-called Sudetenland eventually being attached to Hitler’s Nazi Germany following the Munich settlement of 1938. Many Czechs blamed the Sudetens for the break up of their democratic First Republic and complicity with the later Nazi repression.
Estimates of the death toll from the Czech vengeance varies from around 30,000, a figure from Czech historians, to almost 250,000 from Sudeten German associations. The most famous massacre was of around 800 German civilians at the north Bohemian town of Postoloprty at the end of May and start of June 1945. Almost the entire German-speaking population of Czechoslovakia, totaling from 2.5 million to 3.0 million, was latter expelled from the country under the so-called Beneš Decrees.