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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Doctors apologise to Jews for persecution (Czech Republic)

The Czech Doctors' Chamber (CLK) yesterday unanimously approved its apology to Jewish doctors for the persecution they faced from October 1938 to March 1939, before Nuremberg Laws completely ousted Jews from public life, CLK spokesman Michal Sojka told CTK.

 The CLK's pre-war management assisted, on October 14, 1938, five months before the Nazi occupation of the Czech Lands, in preparing a memorandum containing sharply anti-Semitic measures.

"The memorandum cannot be viewed but as an anti-Semitic and discriminatory document for the signing of which by our [chamber] members we feel obliged to apologise. We do so without any efforts at assessing and judging our predecessors' motives after 72 years. Dear members of CLK, colleagues, doctors of Jewish origin, we apologise to you for what our predecessors did," Sojka cited from the document CLK will release on its website.
Prague's Jewish Museum director Leo Pavlat welcomed the apology.

"It is an expression of decency, the more that the apology for their colleagues has been voiced by those who are not at fault," Pavlat has told daily Lidove noviny.

The petition was also hailed by Dagmar Lieblova, head of the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Initiative group whose father was one of the persecuted doctors in the period of so called "Second Czechoslovak Republic" following the Munich Agreement and preceding the Nazi occupation of the Czech Lands.

"Nevertheless, this should happen far earlier," Lieblova said, referring to the apology.

In the memorandum of 1938, the Czech chambers of doctors, defence lawyers, notaries and engineers proposed that the government restrict the number of Jews in the relevant professions to a percentage corresponding the share of Jews in the country's population. In future, the memorandum said, it should be inadmissible for Jews to work as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

The Czech Bar Association apologised to their colleagues of Jewish origin last year.

In 1938 the managements of the Doctors' Chamber in Prague and Central Association of Czechoslovak Doctors approved the memorandum on doctors' behalf.

The doctors' chamber was abolished in Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup in 1948. It was renewed only in 1991, after the fall of the communist regime. CLK membership is compulsory for all doctors who want to perform doctors' profession. CLK has 46,000 members now.

The Prague Monitor