Sudeten German organisation to open office in Prague

The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, one of the biggest organisations representing ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II, has announced it is opening an office in Prague at the beginning of next year. The chairman of the Munich-based organisation, Bernd Posselt, told reporters that the Prague office would aim to achieve closer contacts with Czech political representatives and improve the flow of information between both sides. Misunderstandings and fears were mainly caused by an inadequate flow of information, Mr Posselt said, adding that in the border regions, where contacts between Czechs and Germans have been increasing, there is less fear and mutual understanding has improved. Radio Prague's Olga Szantova asked Petr Brod, former correspondent for the Munich-based Suddeutsche Zeitung, whether he agreed that the relationship between Germans and Czechs had really improved.

"There are several levels to the Czech-German relationship. There is, of course, the level between states and governments and there both sides say that the relationship has never been better. There is another level, and that is the level of encounters between Czechs and Germans. I think there the relations are getting better all the time. There is a lot of German investment in the Czech Republic, there is a lot of tourist exchange, a lot of trade exchange, Germany is the biggest trade partner for the Czech Republic. So, at these less formal levels the relations have also been improving. What Bernd Posselt has been mainly referring to is the relationship between Sudeten Germans and Czechs and he wants to contribute to the improvement of these relations which have been, to put it mildly, rather cold or indifferent. There is a lot of resentment towards Sudeten German demands on the Czech Republic."

Mr Posseslt feels that the information of Czech political representatives needs improving and that, he says, is the main reason why he is opening this branch office in Prague.

"I doubt that this is really necessary. The Czech government has an effective diplomatic service which keeps it informed about everything concerning Germany, including the activities of Sudeten German organisations such as the Landmannschaft, so I don't think there is any need to improve the flow of information towards Prague and the Czech government."

Talking about the improved relationship, there have been numerous Czech and German organisations very active towards this aim, the Ackerman Gemind, and other organisations. The Landsmanschaft has been the most militant anti-Czech critic in the past, for example, they refused compensation for Czech World War II victims, unless the Sudeten Germans were compensated for what they had lost after World War II. Do you thin that with this improving relationship, that the Sudeten Germans feel they should change their standpoint, in order not to be lost?

"I think that is exactly the point of view of Bernd Posselt, who, let's not forget, has been at the helm of the Landsmanschaft for a very short time, just a few months and he wants to present new perspectives, new approaches, he wants to be seen as the representative of a new generation, which does not seek vengeance, but justice."

Author: Olga Szantová
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