A shot knee and lame justice

A shot knee and lame justice
A shot knee and lame justice

The Constitutional Court reminded that every evil power will end one day. Sometimes even very quickly and unexpectedly. It’s worth noting that.

It’s a very old story. In the summer of 1989, East German youth Thomas Bartsch tried to escape through the Iron Curtain to the West. But his plan didn’t work out, he was hit by a live bullet, arrested and ended up in prison.

Last year, after years of struggle, Bartsch was awarded a ridiculous 5,500 crowns in compensation for the bullet wound in his knee caused by Czechoslovak communist border guards during the intervention. He therefore appealed to the Constitutional Court, which has now found him to be right and called on the Czech judiciary to start dealing with the case again.

This is good news for the injured party – he has gained hope that he will finally see an old grievance redressed. It is then an important moment for the company that is worth remembering.

Waiting is not freedom

The failed escape attempt took place less than four months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. If Bartsch had waited a few more weeks, he could have gone to the West, perhaps by bus, and in good health. Which of course he couldn’t have guessed. Just as the soldier who maimed him could not have guessed. And as none of those involved in Bartsch’s arrest and handover to the East German secret police could have guessed. So much effort was made by all the actors – and in the end it was not only useless, but also turned against them.

More precisely, the border guard was certainly praised immediately after the “successful event” and he could brag about it all summer. But was he still proud of his performance in the fall? He who serves the evil power can never know at what moment he will pay for it. He cannot know when his honors will turn to shame and his prized deeds to crimes. Even if it seems like things will stay the way they are for a very long time, change always comes eventually. Usually unexpectedly.

Stories like Bartsch’s are a warning to the blind servants of lawless regimes. In addition, they also raise the urgent question of whether the freedom that a person simply lives for has the same character as the one for which he is willing to risk absolutely everything. How much do people actually value the “expected” freedom, how do they treat it, how do they think about it and what kind of relationship do they get with it?

Blind and still lame

However, anyone who is convinced that efforts to correct old grievances make sense must expect a wait in our region. Bartsch was twenty-three years old in 1989, he is fifty-seven this year – and he still hasn’t received fair compensation. What’s more, he had to watch how the people responsible for shooting on the Czechoslovak border successfully escape the consequences of their actions one by one. In his country, top officials were convicted of the same thing in 1997, i.e. more than a quarter of a century ago.

Bartsch undoubtedly showed courage and proved that he was willing to go to great lengths for freedom, only to choose a double dose of bad luck in the process. First, because he was caught. And on the one hand, because precisely in Czechoslovakia, in whose successor state, justice is not only blindfolded, but also has lame legs.

Video: Stories of the Iron Curtain – Jiří Chmel (18 August 2021)

Escape behind the Iron Curtain Jiří Chmel | Video: TVF

The article is in Czech

Tags: shot knee lame justice

PREV People can propose candidates for state honors to the Senate until the end of April
NEXT ‘Tragedy after tragedy’: why the 39 mass shootings in the US this year are just the beginning | 25/01/2023