Gunfire at the radio - sixty years on

05-05-2005

Exactly 60 years ago, on 5th May 1945, the Prague Uprising against the German occupiers began here in the very building that houses Radio Prague. "Calling all Czechs" went the now legendary appeal over the airwaves, as defiant radio journalists here at our headquarters in Vinohradska Street, called on the people of Prague to rise up against their occupiers. In the three days that followed over 2,000 Czechs lost their lives in intense street fighting that focused more than anywhere else on the radio building.

The re-enactment of the battle for the radioThe re-enactment of the battle for the radio On Thursday morning once again shots and explosions could be heard in the streets around the radio. This was the beginning of four days of events in the city to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war, as military history enthusiasts staged a re-enactment of the battle for the radio, watched by curious onlookers standing out of harm's way across the road. Here is what one of those watching the battle told Radio Prague:

"I was here as a sixteen-year-old boy in 1945. I was not exactly at this spot. I was in another part of Prague, but I followed the whole situation every day and every night too - when I had to go to an air-raid shelter. We followed the broadcasts of the Czech Radio, so we knew practically every minute what was going on.

The re-enactment of the battle for the radioThe re-enactment of the battle for the radio"I think these reconstructions are important for two reasons. For the younger generation it's something that should remind them of such bad things and of the power of evil. For the older people it's something like a memory. When I see all the old uniforms I am a little touched."

Radio Prague will be reporting on commemorative events in Prague as they happen, including a huge parade of historical military vehicles, and a fireworks display on Sunday evening.

The re-enactment of the battle for the radioThe re-enactment of the battle for the radio The re-enactment of the battle for the radio will be culminating on Saturday afternoon with a reconstruction on a much bigger scale than Thursday's event. You will be able to hear all about it if you tune in to a special report in our Sunday programme.

But this is also a time to remember those who fell. Thursday's mock battle was not just a case of overgrown little boys playing with guns. When the shooting had stopped, wreathes were laid at the entrance to the radio building next to the plaque that bears the long list of names of those who fell in and around this building 60 years ago. A similar event was also staged on Thursday morning in the Town Hall on the Old Town Square - which was completely burnt out during the fighting. And to this day, all around Prague, you can still see bullet holes in the facades of many of the city's buildings, and plaques with the names of the dead, who fell in the very last days of the war.

05-05-2005