Far-right group protests against Sudeten Germans in Prague
Events were held around the country on Tuesday, remembering Czechs who fell in World War II. But the focus was also on a chapter from Czechoslovakia's post-war history, with a small right wing group marching through Prague in support of the expulsion of the country's ethnic Germans.
After crossing the Charles Bridge and pushing their way through some bewildered sightseers and visitors, the march ended in Tomasska Street in Mala Strana, the home of the Czech office of the Sudeten German Association, or Landsmannschaft. Michael, a new National Party member who refused to share his full name, explained why the march was being held.
The marching protesters were holding a rope forming a symbolic train wagon. In the middle of the wagon walked the major villain in the eyes of the National Party, Bernd Posselt. Mr Posselt, the head of the Sudeten German Association and MEP, was represented by a person with his hands bound behind his back and a box with Posselt's photograph on his head. Symbolic train tickets were also issued to other "enemies" of the far-right group, including former president Vaclav Havel, ministers Martin Bursik, Karel Schwarzenberg and Petr Gandalovic. I asked Mr Posselt how he felt about it.
Although the National Party, known for its xenophobic attitudes towards foreigners and minorities, only received over 9 000 votes, or 0.17 %, in the last parliamentary elections of 2006, their views of the Sudeten Germans and their expulsion is shared by many. According to a 2005 survey by the STEM institute, 75 % of Czechs consider the post-war expulsions to be justified.
Does Mr. Posselt see a possibility of the extremist agenda being adopted by mainstream Czech politics and diminishing the chances for dialogue between Czechs and Sudeten Germans?
"I always had good relations with the foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda and I have good relations with some members of the present government. The problem is that these good relations were not used to take steps forward, to make the atmosphere better. This is what we have to do in the next months; we have to create a better atmosphere. And it is possible, I think."