Major reenactment of "Battle for Czech Radio" held in Prague

Reenactment of 'Battle for Czech Radio', photo: Stepanka Budkova

Some of the last fighting of the war took place in Prague, long after most cities in Europe had been liberated. On May 5, 1945 Prague rose up against the collapsing Nazi regime, but some 3,000 people were killed in fierce fighting before the Russians liberated the city four days later. Czech Radio was at the centre of the Prague Uprising, and a large and dramatic reenactment of the battle for the station was held on Saturday.

Reenactment of 'Battle for Czech Radio',  photo: Stepanka Budkova
Czech broadcaster: "Americans and English - help us. We need guns, there are too many Germans. Send us aeroplanes and tanks. Americans before Pilsen send us aeroplanes too. The Germans are coming from south, north, west and east. Help us, help us."

Czech Radio appeals for help from the Allied forces based in Pilsen on May 6, 1945, on the second day of the four-day Prague Uprising; the Uprising began when Czech Radio broadcasters managed to gain control of the station from the Nazi occupiers, and barricaded themselves inside. A similar call was made by an unknown Scottish escaped prisoner of war, who somehow ended up in our building here on Vinohradska Street.

Scottish man: "We are calling urgently for our allies to help. Send immediately tanks and aircraft. Help us defend Prague. At present we are broadcasting from the broadcasting station, and outside there is a battle raging."

Reenactment of 'Battle for Czech Radio',  photo: Stepanka Budkova
That raging battle was recreated on Saturday afternoon, with thousands of Prague citizens lining Vinohradska, or Schwerinstrasse as it was called by the Germans during the War. Over a hundred people took part in the dramatic reenactment, which also featured period vehicles and even an old tram. Fake blood flowed in the gutters, the air was filled with smoke and at times it was extremely loud.

Alexandr Picha: "We didn't need much research, because we had a lot of photographs and a lot of memories of insurgents. But it was a very big deal to prepare this event. We had prepared it for six months."

Alexandr Picha was the main organiser of the reenactment of the "Battle for the Radio". What for him was the highlight of the whole event?

Photo: Stepanka Budkova
"Highlight?! Can I confess, my main highlight was the end. Because I was quite looking forward to this event, but I was very nervous. When it started it didn't depend on me, it depended on all the performers. But the second highlight were the tears in the eyes of old insurgents. Really."

How many of the old veterans from that time were here today?

"About 15 who fought for Czech Radio and about 20 who fought [elsewhere] in the Prague Uprising."

I see you are wearing a gold medal. I believe you gave the same gold medal to some of these veterans earlier.

"This gold medal is a replica of the old silver medal which was given in 1945."

Lubor Suslik,  photo: CTK
Among those who received the commemorative gold medal to add to his silver original from 60 years ago was Lubor Suslik.

"I was here as a 17-year-old boy scout, and I fought here in this building with police, gendarmerie and Czech soldiers, like you have seen in this reconstruction."

Earlier I saw you carrying an old flag - what was that old flag?

"This flag is the flag of the Radio fighters."

He describes the reenactment as realistic and moving, and recalls the spirit of camaraderie between those who fought to defend the station.

"We called one another brother, brother."

Did you have any friends who died here in 1945?

"Many, many - their names are there on the plaque."

Lubor Suslik, a 17-year-old scout in 1945, referring there to a plaque in the entrance to our Czech Radio building, reminding us of those who came before us, and who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of freedom.