Post Bellum project seeks to give Czechoslovak WW II veterans due respect

25-05-2004

"Voices of Heroes", a unique oral history project, seeks to honour the aging men and women who left occupied Czechoslovakia to serve in foreign armies during teh Second World War. Brian Kenety reports.

The voices of heroes, Czech and Slovak veterans of the fight against the Nazi regime: Tens of thousands fought bravely in the Second World War to free Czechoslovakia - and Europe - from the iron fist of Adolf Hitler and fascism.

During the half century of Cold War that followed that terrible war, the Czechoslovak Communist regime branded many of these heroes "enemies of the state", or simply ignored their valour - unless they were fighting alongside the Soviet forces on the Eastern front.

Radio Prague's own Mikulas Kroupa is the chairman of the Post Bellum, a group that has compiled over 300 uncut, unedited interviews with veterans. He drew on the archives of Czech public radio and other historical sources and has made the material public ahead of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

The project "Voices of Heroes" seeks to honour the aging men and women who left their occupied country to serve in foreign armies, or fought in the resistance at home.

"The project Voices of Heroes consists in established archives of memories of Czech veterans of Second War. During the next two years we want to archive 1,000 voices."

Mr. Kroupa wants to set the record straigh - to provide a balance to the distorted record put forth by the Czechoslovak communist regime - and he is still looking for Czech and Slovak World War Two veterans to tell of their contributions, to preserve their memories.

"During the Communist regime, the rememberances of veterans of the Second World War was abused for Communistic propaganda. People who went abroad to fight Nazism are very interesting people for this nation. But most communistic books say that the only veterans who are heros fought in the East."

Vojtech JunaVojtech Juna On Tuesday, Post Bellum held a press conference to introduce its website to the public.

On hand was Vojtech Juna, a soldier in the Czechoslovak Brigade which was based in England during the war, and a veteran of operations at Dunkerque. Mr Juna, who celebrates his 84th birthday this Wednesday, was there to tell something of his experiences in the war - a full interview with him and scores of other veterans can be found on the Post Bellum website.

He told Radio Prague that the Voices of Heroes project is important because young people don't know what war is. He hopes that they never will.

To learn more about Post Bellum, the "Voices of Heroes" project, please go to www.rozhlas.cz/valka or www.hrdinove.cz

25-05-2004