PEMC: 48 former GDR citizens have been rehabilitated by Czech and Slovak courts
On the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2017, The Platform of European Memory and Conscience and the German Union of Victims of Communist Tyranny UOKG called upon former refugees from East Germany who were arrested attempting to cross the Czechoslovak borders to the West to apply for rehabilitation and compensation from the courts of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Following a call launched three years ago, 48 former GDR citizens have been rehabilitated and 38 of them have received a financial compensation.
On the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the Platform of European Memory and Conscience (PEMC) and the Union of Victims of Communist Tyranny (UOKG) are happy to announce that since their joint call on 9 November 2017, altogether forty-eight citizens of former East Germany who were killed or caught in Czechoslovakia trying to cross the Iron Curtain to the West have been rehabilitated by courts in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Thirty-eight of them have received a financial compensation with the remaining ten cases pending, while court hearings are being planned for four further refugees. The compensations however are rather symbolic as of today.
“We are pleased that we have managed to establish a stable rehabilitation practice with the Czech and Slovak courts and we would like to encourage further former refugees to apply. It is a matter of international awareness-raising about totalitarian injustice on the one hand and restoring the dignity of the victims on the other,” says Dr. Neela Winkelmann, manager of the PEMC project “JUSTICE 2.0”. Up to 18,000 refugees from the former GDR may have been caught in Czechoslovakia in the years 1948-1989.
As for the compensations, the Platform has addressed the Ministers of Justice of both the Czech and Slovak Republics, to achieve their adequate valorisation based on today’s living costs and salaries. “We hope that the situation will improve in the near future,” says Platform Managing Director Peter Rendek. “We would further like to see a fairer compensation for injuries and loss of lives at the borders. We find that the compensations awarded so far are not commensurate.”
Dieter Dombrowski, Federal Chairman of the UOKG, says: “The fact that almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Czech and Slovak Republics have started rehabilitating East German refugees is a good, albeit overdue sign of coming to terms with the victims of Communist tyrannies. We are pleased to be having the Platform on our side as an extremely competent partner, so that those concerned can be helped.”
If you want to apply for rehabilitation for yourself or your relatives, please send an e-mail to PEMC legal advisor Dr. Lubomír Müller.
These activities are a part of the Platform’s JUSTICE 2.0 project. The purpose of the project is to raise international awareness about the issue of unpunished international crimes of Communism and to contribute to finding ways to achieving international justice for these crimes.