Czechs commemorate anniversary of Prague Uprising

05-05-2008

On May 5 1945, Czech Radio or Český Rozhlas formally turned against the Nazi German government occupying the country and called on protesters to openly oppose Nazi rule. Today marks the 63rd anniversary of this incident, which ultimately led to the liberation of the Czech lands from Nazi rule.

“Come with us! We are defending Prague! We will defend Prague! Prague exists and it will remain free!”

“That was the sound of a 1945 broadcast made by Český Rozhlas or Czech Radio to Czech citizens asking them to revolt against Czech rule in the Czech lands. I’m just standing outside the Czech Radio building in Prague and inside commemorations are about to get under way to mark the anniversary of this event, which led to the Prague Uprising which began on May 5 1945..."

“...Inside the building, several Czech soldiers have just laid a few wreaths of flowers at a memorial plaque which is in the lobby of the new Czech Radio building, which is in Římská road. Czech Radio has moved its centre of operations slightly from the old building which is being reconstructed at the moment.”

“There is Prague, there is Prague. Americans and English, help us! We need guns, there are too many Germans!”

Václav KasíkVáclav Kasík And that was another clip from an appeal made in English in May 1945 for international assistance to the Czech lands to help fight against the Nazis. For some perspective, I spoke to the current head of Czech Radio Václav Kasík:

“5 May is very important for us at Czech Radio, because the initial signal for the beginning of the uprising against Nazi rule came from here. Czech Radio was an institution that mobilized the entire Czech nation at a crucial time and that it why it is central to marking those events.”

So what exactly happened on that day?

“On the morning of the 5 May 1945, Czech Radio began to broadcast in Czech for the first time in six years, and by noon, when it was clear that Czech Radio would be attacked and attempts would be made by the Germans to silence it, then the service began to call for help. It asked for military assistance from resistance fighters and any other Czechs that could prevent the liquidation of Czech Radio.”

Many Czechs did indeed heed this call, and resistance forces took to the streets defending both their radio service and the city. Three days later, they were forced to surrender by the German authorities – a day after that, Allied forces finally arrived and liberated the city. Many episodes in Czech history revolve around futile and ignored calls for help, but this is one case where Czechs took matters into their own hands, and that is something that many remain proud of till this day.

05-05-2008