After the end of the Second World War it was often very difficult to catch and bring Nazi war criminals and their collaborators to justice. Historian Vojtěch Kyncl from the Czech Academy of Sciences has written a new book called Beasts: Czechoslovakia and the Persecution of Nazi Criminals, which explores the Czechoslovak side of this endeavour. I began by asking him when the allies, including Czechoslovakia, first committed to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.
Archaeologists, excavating the site of the former WWII internment camp for Roma in Lety, have found some of the victims’ graves. Those who took part in the project say that the discovery is not only the first time that graves of Roma people persecuted by the Nazis have been found in Europe, but also undisputable proof of what happened in the camp.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) will attend a ceremony in the
Slovak town of Banská Bystrica on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of
the outbreak of anti-fascist military action that came to be known as the
Slovak National Uprising.
In its simplest telling, the uprising was the culmination of years of planning by Slovak partisans, 18,000 of whom fought alongside 60,000 Czechoslovak soldiers against the Nazi Germany and the puppet state of Slovakia led by the priest Jozef Tiso.
Under communism, the role played by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, the Allies, and non-communist partisans was discounted, and the uprising glorified as a unified action by the Slovak people against fascism in favour of socialism.
On Wednesday, Prague’s statue depicting Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Konev was covered in red paint by unnamed vandals. The monument has been similarly abused many times before. However, this time the local district authorities, who have been trying to move the statue to the Russian Embassy, say they will not clean up the damage until the embassy “starts constructive discussions”.
On the 17th of November 1939, Nazi soldiers executed eight Czech university students and a professor seen as ringleaders of protests against the occupation and deported more than 1,200 of their peers to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The last survivor of that internment, Vojmír Srdečný, died this week, aged 99. He had dedicated his life to working with physically handicapped and warning about the dangers of totalitarianism.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, will attend events in Russia next May
marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. He was invited to
the take part by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose advisor Yuri
Ushakov visited the Czech head of state on Monday.
Mr. Zeman participated in celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Moscow in 2015 and has taken part in similar events at the Russian Embassy in Prague.
Russia marks the end of the war on May 9, a day later than Western European countries. The Czechs previously followed the Russian model but later switched to May 8.
Today it is exactly 77 years since units of the German Security Police liquidated the Central Bohemian village of Lidice in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. While far from the only example of such cruelty during the war, Lidice became famous around the world. In part due to its symbolic value as a place of tragedy, but also hope.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš represented the Czech Republic at a ceremony
marking the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. The D-Day landings
were supported by Czechoslovak pilots from the 310th and 312th Squadron who
operated over France, while Czechoslovak airmen from the 312th Bomber
Squadron were at the time patrolling the English Channel.Seven Czech pilots
were killed in the operation.
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.
The Czech Republic’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has launched a new project to help teachers in primary and secondary schools make history classes more engaging. Called Obrazy války or Images of War, it focuses on the period of the Second World War and provides teachers with alternative study materials, based on photographs and film clips.