Nationwide celebrations planned to remember the end of World War Two
On the 8th May 1945 Prague was the last city in Europe to be liberated, a painful irony given that six years earlier, in March 1939, it had also been the first foreign capital to be occupied by German troops, months before World War Two had even broken out. So in this May's commemorations to mark 60 years since the end of the war in Europe, Prague will have a special place. Veterans of both the Soviet and American liberating armies, as well as survivors among the 50,000 Czechs and Slovaks who fought in the allied armies through the war, will be coming together in Prague and other Czech cities to remember their fallen comrades. But there will also be celebrations. The highpoint will be a huge historical parade on Prague's Letna Plain, a wide open space not far behind the castle, as the main organizer Vaclav Marhoul told David Vaughan.
I gather there is also going to be a recreation of the battle for Czech Radio.
"Yes. The military parade on Letna is just one of the five most important events during 7th and 8th May in Prague. The first is going to be Saturday 7th May, which is the battle of Czech Radio, which was a very important place in 1945, where the Prague Uprising started. On the 8th May in the afternoon, in Branik - a quarter of Prague - there is going to be a big battle. But the military parade is absolutely peaceful - no shooting or anything like that!"
Events aren't just happening in Prague. I believe that other cities and areas that played a role in the liberation will also be staging their own commemorative events.
"Absolutely. The commemorations are going to be everywhere, but I can mention three big towns in the Czech Republic. The first is Ostrava in the east. The biggest celebrations there will be on Saturday 30th April. This event is mostly aimed at the Red Army operations in April 1945. Then there's Plzen [Pilsen] on 6th and 7th May, which is mostly aimed of course at General Patton's 3rd Army, which came to Plzen, and Prague is the last place."
"You're absolutely right. It is one of the biggest struggles, which I'm still solving. How do you communicate the difference between the communist military parades of the past regime and the one we are going to organize at the moment? It's very hard, because the communists did use the Letna Plain as a place as well for all their military parades, and they demonstrated the power against the capitalist system. But this military parade is for ordinary people. It's not a demonstration of power, of course."