Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brno Death March

Sunday, May 30th was the 65th anniversary of the Brno Death March. On this night, in 1945, 20,000 German inhabitants were kicked out and sent to Austria. This happened after the war was over.

The 1945 Beneš Decrees claimed collective responsibility for WW2 by Germans and Hungarians living in Czechoslovakia.  From 1945 – 1946, 2.5 million ethnic Germans and 40,000 Hungarians lost all rights & property and were expelled from the country. And it's not like these people had just moved there. Ethnic Germans and Hungarians had lived there for centuries.

Those expelled from Brno, mostly the elderly, women and children, had to march 30 km to the border. However, that part of Austria was under Soviet control and the people were rejected so they then had to walk back to a concentration camp in Pohořelice. The total march was 56 km (~35 miles) long.

Sixty-five years later and historians are still debating the fatalities. Some Czech historians claim that only a few people died on the march due to old age and some German sources claim as many as 8,000 people died due to Czechs and Soviets taking revenge for the war. The academic consensus puts the death count at 700. The decrees were never rescinded so, technically, they are still in force.

Radio Praha has an interview with Marie Ranzenhoferová – a survivor of the Brno Death March. Here's the link to it.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to think this kind of stuff is still in living memory...