The National Museum in Prague is currently running a special Exhibition called “Knights of the Heaven”. As the name betrays, it is focused on the Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Located in the newly renovated historical building of the museum, it features a massive array of personal items and uniforms of the fighting men, who dedicated their lives to their country, only to be hunted by the communist regime later on.
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.
Representatives of Parliament, the Ministry of Defence and resistance
fighters have honoured the memory of anti-Nazi resistance fighter Václav
Morávek. The rememberance act took place in Prague’s Dejvice district,
where Morávek was shot 77 years ago.
The act took place without the Czechoslovak Freedom Fighters (CSBS) a group which has garnered controversy in recent years due to some of the comments made by its leader Jaroslav Vodička and the fact that its membership base includes former Communist State Security operatives. Both the Senate and the Defence ministry have recently distanced themselves from the group.
General Milan Píka, whose father also held that rank and was executed following a Communist Party-orchestrated show trial, has died at the age of 96. Himself punished on false charges, the World War II veteran nonetheless managed to rise to the top of the Czechoslovak military – and eventually clear his father’s good name.
Kurt Taussig is one of the 669 Czech Jewish children who were saved from the Holocaust by Sir Nicholas Winton on the eve of the Second World War. The 95-year-old man, who went on to join the RAF as a fighter pilot, has since lived in Great Britain and, until recently, was unknown to Czech historians. Now, more than 75 years after he left his country, he was granted honorary citizenship in his birth-town of Teplice.
The 100-year history of the Czech state is closely linked to the army,
Czech Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar said on the occasion of Veterans Day
and the end-of-war celebrations in the Czech Republic.
At a ceremony on Prague’s Námestí míru, Defence Minister Metnar spoke about the crucial role of Czechoslovak legionaries in bringing about an independent state for Czechs and Slovaks and the work of Czech soldiers serving in foreign missions today. He paid homage to the four Czech soldiers who recently lost their lives serving in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
The Czech Republic has marked Veterans Day since 2001. The Defence Ministry registers 14,000 war veterans, of those just 500 from WWII.
The recent incident in Afghanistan, which claimed the lives of three Czech soldiers stationed in the country as part of NATO’s mission, has opened up several questions, including how the Czech Republic cares for its modern-day war veterans and whether it does enough to help them re-integrate into society once they have left the army.
One of the last remaining Czechs who served with Britain’s RAF during
World War II, Pavel Vranský, has died at the age of 97. Mr. Vranský was
promoted to the rank of brigadier general by the president last year.
The war hero, who came from a Jewish family in Ostrava, joined the RAF in 1942 and served with the 311 Squadron, which was a Czechoslovak-manned bomber squadron. Prior to that he had fought in Syria and at Tobruk.
Freedom celebrations continue in the West Bohemian town of Plzen, marking
the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the city by General Patton’s
Army. Thousands of people on Saturday welcomed the Convoy of Liberty, with
its 220 historic military vehicles, which is traditionally one of the
highlights of the celebrations. Seven US and Belgian war veterans who
helped liberate the city are attending the celebrations this year.
The Liberation Festival in the city traditionally lasts for several days and includes street happenings, concerts and the chance to see a reconstructed US military camp from that period. The celebrations continue on Sunday at the town’s memorial to the US army with an event called Thank You, America!