Sunday, May 08, 2005

I want YOUR DOG for U.S. Army

This is my dog. His name is Chucky (click for large image).

Today, celebrations of 60th anniversary of liberation of Czechoslovakia took place throughout Prague. Interesting fact is that about one quarter of Czech Republic, including large cities like Pilsen (yes, the cradle of beer), was liberated by the U.S. Army and most of the rest of the country by Soviet Army. However, during the Cold War, Czech history books were altered to remove any mention of non-Soviet armies. This lasted until the 1989 "Velvet Revolution".


Vít Čondák said...

Já teda nevím, do jaké školy jsi chodil (nechce se mi hledat životopis =), ale já jsem se normálně ve škole (před rokem 1989) dověděl, že Plzeň byla osvobozena americkou armádou a nevzpomínám si, že by mi někdy někdo tvrdil něco jiného.

Jan Vaněk jr. said...

Yes, Daniel Dočekal and Radim Hasalík both can envy you your dog, and this post.

But for the sake of those unlucky foreigners who wander in here with just a vaguest idea that there isn't a hole between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, I'd like to state that:

1. By my reckoning, less than a tenth of Czechia's area, with Pilsen the only large city there, was liberated by the Americans; I haven't been able to find a good map of the demarcation line on the web, best approximations are in US Army materials (but it was smoother, on the level of the easternmost salients shown) and bad scan of another SHAEF map.

2. While the communist regime did indeed try to suppress the memory of the US Army or rather downplay its importance (let alone the fact that it could have easily liberated Prague had not been for Soviet obstructions) it sure wasn't Orwell's Oceania with capacity to rewrite the past. Yes, it removed memorials or plaques to the American soldiers; but it didn't deny the past facts (just as the previous commenter says in Czech, I had a map much like the above-linked in my school history atlas in the 80es), just re-interpreted them: in the 50es, there was a pamphlet called Shameful Role of American Occupants in Western Bohemia in 1945, later expanded (and toned down in title, though apparently not content) to Americans in Western Bohemia in 1945 (content in Czech only, but there are cartoons). In later decades, the fulminating cooled down somewhat, but the overall attitude was the same. There are stories of teachers or tourist guides etc. claiming "Pilsen (or some smaller town) was liberated by Soviet soldiers in American uniforms!" which may not be entirely apocryphal, but this would have to be a case of an over-eagerness, or stupidity, and not the party line coming from the authorities.

3. The last two sentences are formulated rather questionably: re "non-Soviet armies" in plural - the British, let alone French, didn't come anywhere near to the borders; on the other hand the Romanian army helped with liberating Czechoslovakia in the south-east. Also, there was quite a break in the practice mentioned above during the Prague Spring of 1968.

Anonymous said...


nam to ve skole nerekli (narozen 1971)