War veterans, diplomats and members of the public gathered in the French port of Dunkerque and the Belgian town of De Panne over the weekend to pay homage to the soldiers who lost their lives in the heroic siege of Dunkerque and the liberation of the French-Belgian border areas. Among the heroes of Dunkerque are members of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade which, although heavily outnumbered, fought to contain German units within the fortress up until their surrender in May, 1945.
Hundreds of politicians, foreign dignitaries and members of the public
attended the annual commemorative ceremony in Terezín, the site of a
former Nazi concentration camp. Speaking at the gathering, marking the
camp's liberation, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka recalled the
horrors of Terezín and warned against division in society. He also said
peace and freedom were the result of a joint European effort to overcome
Also known as Theresienstadt, the 200-year-old fortress town was transformed by the Nazis into a camp where Jews from across Europe were gathered until they could be transported to extermination camps. Of the 150, 000 people who were interned at Terezin between 1940 and 1945, 33,000 died and 88,000 were transported to Nazi death camps elsewhere.
Czech Post on Wednesday unveiled a new souvenir sheet containing a 46 crown stamp marking the 75th anniversary of Operation Anthropoid. In the mission, Czechoslovak parachutists were dropped into occupied territory to assassinate Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The souvenir sheet, about the size of a postcard, gave the artist greater room to pay homage to those who gave their lives in the operation or were murdered in reprisal by the Nazis.
Around 90,000 people attended a four-day Festival of Freedom in Plzeň marking the liberation of the city by US troops at the end of World War II, organisers said on Monday. The event reached a climax on Sunday when a convoy hundreds of vintage military vehicles paraded through the West Bohemian city. General George Patton’s Third US Army liberated Plzeň on May 5, 1945. Red Army troops reached Prague several days later.
Events have been held in the Czech Republic marking the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, Chief of the General Staff Josef Bečvář and other senior Czech Army figures attended the main event at Prague’s Vítkov National Memorial on Monday morning. In the afternoon President Miloš Zeman named new generals, including the country’s first woman general, Lenka Šmerdová. Ceremonies marking the anniversary of VE day were also held at Prague’s Klárov and in Brno, while several days of celebrations in Plzeň reached a climax.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the end of WW II, I speak with well-known historian Matěj Spurný about the Sudeten Germans whose future in post-war Czechoslovakia was sealed when many lined up with Nazi Germany ahead of the Munich Agreement. Most of the ethnic German population was forced to leave – spelling the end of what had been a largely peaceful coexistence going all the way back to the 13th century.
Czech Radio’s Prague headquarters was very much the focal point for the Prague uprising against Nazi rule at the end of WWII. And today’s top state personalities assembled on Friday outside the radio building to pay homage to the hundreds who fell at the barricades in Prague and in scattered skirmishes across the country.
Culture Minister Daniel Herman has said that the Terezín Memorial should remind visitors not only of the horrors of the Holocaust but also serve as a warning. The minister made the statement while attending a ceremony marking 70 years since the memorial’s completion two years after the end of World War II. The minister reminded attendees that some survivors who had been held in the Terezín ghetto or been held in the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress were still living that it was the duty of society to cultivate the memory of what had happened at the site into the future. The minister said that his own grandmother had been one of those imprisoned at the Gestapo prison at the Small Fortress during World War II. The Nazis used Terezin as a ghetto and camp for the internment of Jews who were later sent on to death camps such as Auschwitz.
Wreathes were laid on Saturday in the village of Javoříčko in Moravia at a monument to 38 local men who were murdered by the Nazis during WWII, Czech Television reported. The mass killing came on May 5, 1945, just days before the end of the war, in response to local people’s support for Soviet partisans. The Nazis later razed the majority of homes in the village, where only a few dozen people live today.
Two new additions look set to be made to the Czech Republic’s list of official “significant days”. The Chamber of Deputies has voted to make June 18 the Day of the Heroes of the Second Resistance, referring to those who fought back against the Nazis during World War II. The anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, on 9 March 1944, is also in line to become a significant day. A co-author of the bill, Robin Böhnisch of the Social Democrats, said it paid a debt to the heroes of WWII.
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