Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Liberation Day

Today is Liberation Day in the Czech Republic which marks the end of WWII in Europe.  The first country that the Nazis took over was their own – Germany.  In 1938, Hitler annexed Austria which became part of the Third Reich.  His next target was Czechoslovakia.  Hitler wanted the ethnic-German border regions of Bohemia and Moravia – the Sudetenland.  This part of the country was responsible for the major portion of Czechoslovakia's coal, energy, power and mountain fortifications.

The UK and France thought that by appeasing Hitler with a few concessions that the bloodshed of WWI would not be repeated.  They were very wrong.  In September 1938, there was a four-power conference in Munich between Germany, Italy, France and the UK.  Czechoslovakia was not invited.  The Munich Agreement is where the West sold out Czechoslovakia.  The result was that Nazi Germany took over the Sudetenland.  Other parts of the country were taken over by Poland and Hungary.

On March 15, 1939, Hitler invaded what was left of Czechoslovakia.  This marked the end of the country and it did not exist again until after the war was over.  What were left of the Czech lands became the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.  For the first time in history, Slovakia became its own country, although it was just a Nazi puppet state.

The Czechs were among the first victims of Nazi oppression.  They were also the last people to be liberated.  General Patton's army liberated most of western Bohemia on May 5, 1945.  On May 8, the Germans on the western front surrendered.  Due to the Moscow time difference the German surrender took effect on May 9.  This is why Liberation Day in Western Europe is on May 8th but in Russia and the former east European countries it was celebrated on May 9th.  After the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic moved Liberation Day to May 8th.


Here is part of an old USA documentary, which I found on YouTube, that gives more background.
video

3 comments:

  1. Thank you, Chris, for a wonderful blog post! Their story can't be told enough.

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  2. Christopher - other than being over 3 months behind time :-), this is an excellent summation of the history of WW2 as it relates to the former Czechoslovakia and the current Czech Republic. You & your readers might also enjoy my post from last year which gives more details about all the issues surrounding the Sudetendeutsche.
    http://rickyyates.com/sudetenland-and-the-sudetendeutsche/

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  3. Thanks for the comments. And Ricky thanks for the link to your post. I'm trying my best to get caught up on all of the posts I've started but have yet to publish. =)

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