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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Steven Spielberg, the story of Oskar Schindler and the twelve hundred Jews he saved during World War II is well known. But not many people know that the factory where he employed them still stands. It is in the village of Brněnec, north of the Czech Republic’s second city of Brno, and for many years it has stood derelict. There has been a lot of talk of saving the building and turning it into a museum and memorial, and the latest initiative comes from members of the Low-Beer family, who owned the factory until 1938 when they had to flee
The short-lived secret organisation Světlana formed in 1948 grew to become the largest anti-Communist group in Czechoslovakia, boasting several hundred members at its peak, operating in more than a dozen cells, mainly in Moravia. That’s one version of events. Many long believed that Světlana was not only infiltrated by the State Security force, or StB, but was in fact a creation of it – part of operations to ensnare “counter-revolutionaries”, those sympathetic to what is now known as the Third Resistance movement. Other questions remain as to whether