Paris, Lviv and Prague, over a thousand miles apart yet connected by the fact that they all initiated successful uprisings against their German occupiers during World War II. The Czech capital was the last of the three to do so, but the action arguably preserved the city’s beauty and led to a battle the Czech nation, previously starved of an opportunity to fight, needed. On the date famously named by Winston Churchill as Victory in Europe day, we take the opportunity to explore the story behind the Prague Uprising.
Celebrations marking the liberation of Plzeň by General Patton’s Army on May 6th 1945 took place in the West Bohemian city at the weekend. Despite the cold, thousands of people lined the streets of the city to greet the war veterans who rode at the head of the Convoy of Liberty organized in remembrance of the event.
A memorial plaque to a Czech member of the British Royal Air Force who took
his own life after being expelled from the Czechoslovak Army by the
Communists was installed on Sunday near České Budějovice.
Lieutenant Colonel Václav Martínek began serving in a Czechoslovak unit under RAF command in 1942. He shot himself after being expelled from the Czechoslovak Army after the Communists seized power in the so-called Victorious February coup in 1948.
A member of the Society for Military History said that Martínek could be considered as among the first military victims of the regime, which imprisoned scores of former RAF pilots and other servicemen who fought with Western allies.
Jewish and Roma holocaust victims will be commemorated through a series of
public readings in over 20 Czech cities, which are set to start at 2pm on
Thursday. Participation is open to all. Those who do choose to take part
will receive a list of names with some personal data on each individual and
can then read out the names publicly.
The event is part of the 14th annual Yom HaShoah, known as Holocaust Remembrance Day in English. It is organised by the Terezín Initiative Institute and both Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, as well as the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Meron have pledged to take part.
A plaque to the previously little-known Doreen Warriner has just been unveiled in Prague. The Englishwoman saved the lives of hundreds of people by helping them escape to the UK just before WWII. Czech and British officials – as well as people rescued by a number of courageous souls like Warriner 80 years ago – were in attendance at Monday’s ceremony.
Around Prague there are hundreds of stones inlaid in the pavement honouring the victims of the Holocaust. They are known as Stolpersteine, which literally translates as “stumbling stones”, while Czechs refer to them as “the stones of the disappeared”. Sometimes grimy and easy to miss, these stones have been receiving fresh attention thanks to Trevor Sage, who decided last year to go around the city and clean them all. Since then the retired Briton, who has been living here for over a decade, has created interactive maps and built up the Solpersteine
Eighty years ago today, on March 15 1939, Hitler gave Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha a stark choice: accept becoming a protectorate or face destruction. After Hácha reluctantly agreed to give up his country’s independence the German army started moving in. It was the beginning of six long years of occupation.
In 1946 a secret American operation in Czechoslovakia led to major diplomatic protests. The US authorities had organized a mission aimed at obtaining hidden Nazi documents from a cache in a forest near Prague. However, they had not alerted the Czechoslovak authorities or sought permission – and that led to a real propaganda coup for the country’s pro-Soviet Communist politicians and press.
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