German newspaper honors Václav Havel with Czech-language headline

"Václav Havel contributed to freedom and democracy," reads a Czech headline in Sudetendeutsche Zeitung in advance of the 85th anniversary of Havel's birth.


Written by ČTK Published on 03.10.2021 17:16:00 (updated on 06.10.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The latest issue of the German newspaper Sudetendeutsche Zeitung honors the upcoming 85th anniversary of the birth of former Czech president and dissident Václav Havel with a rare headline in Czech. Havel was born on October 5, 1936.

Bernd Posselt, a spokesperson and top representative from the Sudeten German organization Landsmannschaft, writes in his article that Havel was a genuine supporter of European unity.

"Václav Havel contributed to freedom and democracy," reads the Czech headline on page five in Sudetendeutsche Zeitung, with a German translation in much smaller print.

The headline cites a law on Havel's merits that Czech parliament passed in early 2012, shortly after his death. Posselt refers to this law in his article about Havel.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, Havel became not only a leading personality of the Czechoslovak resistance to Communist tyranny, but he was even recognized as the light of freedom in the enslaved neighboring countries of the Eastern Bloc," Posselt writes.

The author also recalls a personal meeting with Havel and calls him, along with former Polish president Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II, the movers of nations in Central and Eastern Europe.

Havel was also an important figure for Sudeten Germans, Posselt writes.

"During his first visit to a European Parliament delegation, he demonstratively showed me around all his private premises before all colleagues to stress that he ascribed the role of bridge builders in the heart of Europe to Czechs and Sudeten Germans," Posselt writes, also mentioning Havel's demand for a European constitution that every schoolchild could understand.

Posselt closes his article by noting the Czech law on Havel's contribution to freedom and democracy.

It is very exceptional for German media to use Czech language in a headline.

"This has never happened in the history of German media to have a headline in Czech," Pavel Novotny, a Czech journalist who lives in Munich, told CTK.

He added that this was an expression of respect for Havel, who had also contributed to the development of Czech-German relations.

Posselt called Havel an uncrowned king of the free European civic society.

Havel, a playwright, thinker, and dissident, was the first post-Communist Czechoslovak and Czech president (1989-2003). After he left the post, he primarily focused on the promotion of human rights in the world. He died at the age of 75 in his cottage in Hrádeček, east Bohemia, on December 18, 2011.

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