“Forgotten Heroes” maps stories of Sudeten anti-fascists
They fought against the Nazis but were treated as enemies in Czechoslovakia after the war: that is the starting point for “Forgotten Heroes” a travelling exhibition in the Czech Republic mapping the story of ethnic Sudeten Germans who fought against the Nazis. Despite their resistance to Hitler in World War II, many still suffered persecution in Czechoslovakia after the end of the war.
“The status ‘antifascist’ was given to those after the war who were able to prove their contribution, a time when the state administration was in upheaval. On that basis they were given state citizenship. It wasn’t easy: they had to provide witnesses and concrete proof of resistance to the fascists. Their native tongue was German but administrators carried out all proceedings in Czech.”
In Vaclav Houfek’s view, the number of Czech Germans who opposed the Nazis was far higher than ultimately proven. Nor was the status of “antifascist” in future Czechoslovakia enough to prevent persecution: one of those who remembers the period is Bedrich Dedek, whose father was ethnic German. Mr Dedek was at the opening of “Forgotten Heroes” and he told Radio Prague his story: how he and his father had prevented the destruction of locks on the Labe River. The retreating German army had planned to flood hundreds in nearby surroundings but Mr Dedek’s father stalled the soldiers, persuading them not to act. Meanwhile, the 11-year old son secretly ran for wire clippers and then cut the wires leading to the explosives. Bedrich Dedek: