Political leaders, war veterans and members of the public gathered outside
Czech Radio’s Prague headquarter on Saturday to mark the 73rd anniversary
of the Prague Uprising against Nazi rule at the end of WWII.
The radio station was the focal point of the uprising and the site of one of the biggest clashes with Nazi forces as citizens came to defend the building against German attempts to retake it. Over 100 people died defending the radio building and hundreds of others fell at the barricades that went up around Prague. Altogether, an estimated 12,000 people were killed around the country.
The commemorative ceremony outside Czech Radio was attended by the Speaker of the Senate Milan Stech, Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová, members of the Union of Freedom Fighters and others. Mr. Stech said that although the uprising had come in the last days of the war it had prevented the Nazis from destroying the historic core of the Czech capital.
At the beginning of May 1945 fighting was still going on in Prague. The Czech lands were one of the last places in Europe where people were dying even after the official end of hostilities between the German Army and the Allies on May 8. There was a last-minute uprising in the Czech capital and the US 3rd Army was only some 80 kilometers (or about 50 miles) away, near the western city of Plzeň.
Tomáš Lom is one of the very few surviving Czechoslovaks who served in Britain’s RAF during World War II. Born Tomáš Löwenstein into a Jewish family in Prague, he signed up in London the moment he turned 18 and ended up serving as a wireless operator in the Bahamas in the latter period of the conflict.
The oldest living female Czechoslovak World War II veteran, Anděla Haida,
has died in the United Kingdom at the age of 104, the Czech Embassy in
London has announced.
During the war Mrs. Haida served as a driver with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force after signing up as a volunteer in 1942.
In 2017 the North London resident received a medal for heroism from the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. She was born Anděla Beníčková in Uherský Brod in October 1913.
War veteran Colonel Josef Holy has died at the age of 99. Holy fought in
the Eastern front in WWII and was later taken into German captivity.
After being released he joined a resistance group composed of Volhynian Czechs and volunteered for the newly formed 1st Czechoslovak army corps. He fought in the battle for the Dukla pass, where he was hit in the head by a shrapnel.
After the war he was a member of the anti-communist resistance for which he was sentenced to 18 months in jail and later only allowed to do menial labour. Holy was rehabilitated after 1989 and received the Memory of the Nation Award.
Scores of Czechoslovak pilots took part in the Battle of Britain, the famous July to October 1940 military campaign in which the RAF fought off massive German air raids and changed the course of World War II. Those Czechoslovak heroes are among those commemorated at the fascinating Battle of Britain Museum at a former key air base at Hawkinge near Folkstone in Kent, just kilometres from the English Channel.
Miroslav Liškutín, one of the last Czechoslovak fighter pilots who served with the British RAF during WWII, died in Great Britain on Monday at the age of 98. Last year, the veteran pilot was promoted to the rank of brigadier general by the Czech head of state. The head of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, General Jiří Bečvář, had praise for the hero and his contribution during the war.
A collection of photos of the RAF’s Czechoslovak 312 squadron by the great photographer Ladislav Sitenský has just been published in Prague. The book was meant to come out in 1948 but was pulped, and the new edition has been timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia.
Fearing prison in Communist Czechoslovakia, in March 1950 Oldřich Doležal and other ex-RAF aviators simultaneously kidnapped three planes on internal flights and escaped to West Germany. On board one of those planes was Doležal’s son, then just an infant. Today Tom Dolezal runs the Czechoslovak Free Airforce website and is an authority on the Czech and Slovaks who served in the RAF.