Die Vergangenheit hält Gericht – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 August 2013

(“The past stages a trial“)

How do the East-European states handle the crimes of the Communist dictatorship? In the court cases against Czech border soldiers, the past lives on.

This important article describes several brutal crimes / murders committed by border guards against German and Czechoslovak citizens trying to escape across the Iron Curtain from Czechoslovakia during the Communist dictatorship and the thwarted attempts to reach justice for these killings after 1989. The reason for this failure is that former Communist judges and even former members of the Communist military judiciary are being entrusted with these cases in the courts of the Czech Republic, leading to an extreme leniency toward the perpetrators and to their acquittal. Neela Winkelmann, Director of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, comments that this represents a scandalous breach of the right to a fair trial. The author further points out that the systematic nature of the crimes and the line of command are being neglected completely by the Czech courts and that surprisingly no continuous public debate takes place in Czech society about the issue.

Die Vergangenheit hält Gericht (pdf)