Czech partisans remembered in Prague

Czech partisans, photo: MF Dnes (15.3.2005)

As you are probably well aware by now, a number of events are being held here this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. But while many of these commemorations focus on the liberation of Czechoslovakia by foreign armies, some events are also acknowledging the contribution of homegrown anti-Nazi resistance movements. One such event was a commemorative evening held in Prague on Tuesday to acknowledge the contribution of the Czech "partisans" in helping defeat Nazi Germany.

Businessman Karel Stejskal organised the event, which included speeches by former partisans and historians of the resistance movement. He feels it's important to acknowledge the contribution of those Czechs who were brave enough to stand up to the Nazis who annexed their country.

"I think we have to remember everyone who participated in the victory over fascism. Because if Hitler's Germany hadn't been defeated, us Czechs wouldn't be here today as a nation. That's why we're holding this evening to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the time when the resistance movement peaked here in Bohemia and Moravia."

Although the Czech resistance movement was not as militarily successful as similar groups in places such as Yugoslavia and Ukraine, it did make a significant contribution to the war against fascism.

While it's most notable achievement was probably the assassination of Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, the Czech resistance movement also regularly disrupted German communications with attacks on railway lines, and it played a vital role in relaying information on German activities back to Allied headquarters in London.

Czech resistance forces also played an active role in the Prague Uprising shortly before the end of the war.

Czech MP Karel Splichal was one of those speaking at the commemorative event. He says that the perhaps the greatest contribution made by the partisans was the example they set for the Czech nation by being courageous enough to take a stand against fascism at a very difficult time.

"If twenty-year-old boys resolved to go and fight for Czechoslovakia, they staked everything they held dear to do this and went off to face an uncertain future. That's an example that young people should pay attention to, because it's about values that I would say create the entire moral fabric of this nation. It is invaluable if we have examples from our history which can have a positive moral and educational influence of future generations."