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Czech Republic: President Rejects Resettlement Of Sudeten-Germans

Bonn, 24 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Czech President Vaclav Havel today told the lower house of Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, that his country can not give back to Sudeten-Germans their former homes seized by the Czechs after the Second World War.

Havel told the Bundestag: "Just as today's Germany cannot bring back to life the tens of thousands of Czech victims of Nazism and return the situation to the way it was before 1938 when Czechs, Jews and Germans lived in our country side by side, neither can today's Czech Republic give back homes to the Germans who were driven out of the country."

About three million Sudeten Germans were expelled from the former Czechoslovakia after the war. They were accused by Czechs of being traitors because they backed the German dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and the occupation of the Czech lands.

But Sudeten German expellees say their expulsion was one of the biggest post-War cases of ethnic cleansing resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands.

Earlier this year, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus signed a joint declaration in which both countries expressed regret for the excesses of the past.

German President Roman Herzog is due to address the Czech parliament next Tuesday.