Euroregion Elbe/Labe

Weekly review no. 15

Road to Dolní Žleb above water again - Hřensko's mayor resigns - Trial of scandal flasher - Opening of the Lety Roma memorial in April

12.01.2024

Road to Dolní Žleb over water again

After exactly 20 days, the road from Děčín to Dolní Žleb was open again. On Thursday morning, the Elbe level in Děčín had fallen below the 4 meter mark, which is important for flood warning level 1. The street was cleaned during the day and the first cars were driving again in the afternoon.

Flooding in Dolní Žleb 2024
Floods in Dolní Žleb 2024 (© Děčínsko via X)

The street was flooded when the first wave of flooding began shortly before Christmas. For the residents of the last village on the left bank of the Elbe before the border with Saxony, which is part of Děčín, this means that the train becomes the only transport connection with the outside world. Since the car ferry doesn't connect to the highway on the other bank of the Elbe, the only option is to take the train. The residents of Dolní Žleb are already used to this. When the Elbe approaches the first flood warning level, they bring their cars to safe parking spaces in the Děčín city area so that they have a vehicle for longer journeys. However, the rising water brings with it further inconveniences. Bulk shopping is more difficult by train and the garbage is not picked up. Anyone who needs the rescue service has to be taken by boat to the other side of the Elbe by the fire department.

The situation on the rivers throughout the Czech Republic has now calmed down. Most recently, the first flood warning level was withdrawn in Litoměřice on Friday. The second flood warning level only applied to the Vltava in Český Krumlov and Vyšší Brod. But this is due to the fact that more water was released from the large Lipno reservoir, which was previously held back by the dam for flood protection purposes.

Hřensko's mayor resigns

The mayor of the border village of Hřensko, Zdeněk Pánek, resigned on December 31, 2023. Pánek did not want to speak to the media about the reasons for his resignation. He simply emphasized that it was his free decision and that it was not for personal reasons, but that he had to do with Hřensko.

The community is currently going through a difficult phase. Since the major fire in the summer of 2022, the Edmundsklamm has been closed due to the threat of tree collapse and rock falls. This meant that the largest source of income was lost, because the gorges belong to Hřensko. The municipality tried to counteract this by introducing an overnight tax and garbage charges for residents. But these are not real cuts. What is normal elsewhere, Hřensko had waived its citizens in times of bubbling income. As media reports, Pánek apparently no longer wanted to support these and other austerity measures, which forced him to resign.

Pánek is leaving after more than nine years as mayor. Before that, the lawyer with an office in Děčín was mayor for four years in 2002, and also deputy mayor in between. His successor will be decided at the next meeting of the local council. He must be elected from among the 7 local councilors. Until then, Vice Mayor Robert Mareš will be in charge of the official business. The next regular local elections will not take place until October 2026.

Trial of scandal speed camera

The speed measurement trial in Varnsdorf has begun at the district court in Ústí nad Labem. Four years after the police operation in the town hall of Varnsdorf, as a result of which mayor Stanislav Horáček and his deputy Josef Hambálek were arrested, the trial began that caused a great stir at the time. The city commissioned the company Water Solar Technology (WST) to measure the speed at four locations in the city. Thousands of drivers from Germany were also affected, because two measuring devices were in the Studánka district, through which the busy highway 9 from Saxony leads further into the interior of the Czech Republic. The Ministry of the Interior criticized early on that Varnsdorf had agreed to participate for each violation measured. WST therefore received a fixed sum for each case of increased speed.

In Ústí, not only Horáček and Hambálek, but also Horáček's girlfriend, Eva Petružálková, and the managing director of the WST company, Miloš Schubert, are on trial. The public prosecutor's office accuses them of abuse of office or aiding and abetting, taking advantage of a public tender, bribery and violating competition rules. Horáček, Hambálek and Petružálková testified on the first two days of the trial. All defendants deny the allegations. They face prison sentences of up to 12 years. The trial will continue in March.

Opening of the Lety Roma Memorial in April

The memorial at the site of the former concentration camp for Roma in Lety, southern Bohemia, is expected to open at the end of April. It was originally scheduled to open on February 3rd. However, the date had to be postponed for technical reasons, it is said. The reason is problems during the construction. The final work on the memorial is currently being carried out and work on the exhibition is underway.

In 2018, after years of struggle by human rights organizations and Roma representatives, the Czech government decided to build a memorial at the site of the former concentration camp to commemorate the Holocaust of Roma and Sinti. Until then, a pig farm operated there. The government bought the business and had it demolished. The memorial with a visitor center and exhibition has been under construction since last year. The construction is not only being financed by the Czech government. The Norwegian government contributes the money for the exhibition, and the German Embassy in Prague is involved in the construction of the memorial's outdoor facilities.

Along with Hodonín near Kunštát in Moravia, Lety was one of two camps where Roma were interned in the 1940s. Both camps were stopovers on the way to the extermination camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Hundreds of Roma died in Lety and Hodonín. Hodonín was in turn the site of a holiday home and a children's holiday camp for decades before a memorial was opened in 2019 after years of effort.

 

The creation of this newsletter is co-financed by tax revenue based on the budget approved by the Saxon state parliament.

(This is an automatic translation by Google Translator.)

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