Berlin remembers Czech forced labourers
In the course of the Second World War well over half a million Czechoslovak citizens were sent to German and Austrian cities as forced labour. They often worked and lived in appalling conditions in German factories, exacerbated by continual heavy Allied bombardment. Nearly sixty years later only one in ten are still alive and they are still awaiting compensation for their ordeal. Last week this came a step closer when the lower houses of both the German and Austrian parliaments approved the setting up of a fund to compensate forced labourers from throughout Central and Eastern Europe. And this Monday saw a further gesture of reconciliation, this time of a more symbolic kind, with a ceremony held in Berlin to remember 18 young Czech forced labourers who died in the city during an air raid in November 1943 - the same air raid that destroyed Berlin's famous Kaiser Wilhelm Church, to this day a symbol of the city's destruction. The ceremony was initiated by the German insurance company Allianz, which todays owns the building on the site where the young men died. Lydie Holinkova from the Czech Embassy in Berlin told Radio Prague's David Vaughan that the event was made particularly moving by those who attended the ceremony.