VE Day, May 8, in Prague: mixed emotions

Liberation Day (1945) - Public Holiday
Date: 08 May 2015
Public holiday. Though the Soviet tanks rolled in to liberate the Czech Republic a day later than elsewhere, on 9 May 1945, VE Day is celebrated annually on the 8 May in line with the other former Communist countries "liberated" by the Russians.
(as reported by Radio Prague)

There was some controversy about VE Day in Prague. Many Czechs wanted to be liberated by American troops, who were nearby in Plzen, but who were restrained by the decision (made by Allies Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill) to give that honor to Russian troops.

Liberation of Paris
Here is what Radio Prague says about these events:
On 15th March 1939 - six months before the war had even broken out - Prague was occupied by German troops. On 8th May 1945 - over six years later - Prague was the last major European city to be liberated by the Red Army. In the course of this long occupation, the so-called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia gradually came under the complete control of the Gestapo, one of the most vicious regimes in the whole of occupied Europe.
The sixty-fifth anniversary of the end of the war is a time of mixed emotions in the Czech Republic. On the one hand memories of the liberation are a reason for celebration, but the anniversary also brings back painful memories of the occupation itself: the murder of over 70,000 Czech Jews, the arbitrary executions, the destruction of the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky.
The liberation - by the Red Army from the east and by General Patton's Third Army from the west - brought great hopes, but it was a bittersweet moment. Only three years later a further tyranny took power in Czechoslovakia, and for over forty years the country was under hard line communist rule. In one sense the war did not really end for Czechs until November 1989, when the Iron Curtain was finally breached.


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