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Erste Rehabilitation eines Todesopfers am Eisernen Vorhang in Tschechien

Presseerklärung der Platform of European Memory and Conscience: First rehabilitation by a Czech court of refugee killed on the Iron Curtain

News vom 27.05.2020

Prague, 27 May – On 25 May 2020 the Czech district court in Tachov fully rehabilitated Mr Gerhard Schmidt and his family. After the case of Hartmut Tautz, who was fully rehabilitated by a Slovak court in Bratislava in 2017, now the Czech Republic has also recognised that the killing of refugees trying to escape across the Iron Curtain during Communism was injustice.
 
The verdict rehabilitates another victim, who was also mentioned by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience (PEMC) in its criminal complaint in 2017. It is the first court decision in the Czech Republic in the case of a refugee killed on the Iron Curtain. The Platform welcomes the court decision and expects dignified compensation for Mr Schmidt's family.
 
In 1977, Gerhard Schmidt, a 38-year-old East German, decided to flee with his wife and three children (6, 7 and 11 years old) to the Federal Republic of Germany. On 6 August 1977, near the village of Broumov in the Tachov region, the couple crossed the signal fence with their children and began walking to the state border. At the same time, they were spotted by a Czechoslovak border guard patrol, which immediately began to pursue them. The patrol used a vz. 58 assault rifle against the unarmed civilians, and fatally hit the father of the family. He succumbed to his injuries at the hospital in the town of Planá. The wife and children were subsequently "handed over for further action" back to the GDR. The daughter of the slain person asked for the rehabilitation of the father and family.
 
"This verdict is an important step forward in the process of rehabilitation of all victims of Communism. It opens the way for dozens of families of those who were killed on the former Iron Curtain. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are setting a good example to be followed by other countries," said the PEMC president dr Łukasz Kamiński.
 
Since 2017 more than 30 people have been rehabilitated and compensated by Czech and Slovak courts, and another twenty are in the process of being compensated or awaiting legal proceedings.

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