The fate of Czechoslovakia on the eve of and especially during World War II was not enviable, to say the least. The Munich agreement sealed the fate of the “sole democratic country” in Eastern Europe. Under pressure from London, Paris, Warsaw the Czechs agreed to give up the strategically most important part of their territory to Germany. Although Czechoslovakia itself had a highly developed military industry and one of the most capable armies in Europe, it fell virtually with no resistance. The Czech “allies” from Little Entente also called off any help. In March 1939, the Germans “peacefully” forced the last Czechoslovakian president to relinquish any sovereignty. The “resistance” to the Germans was symbolic, represented by only one small unit of the Czech army.
The years of the German “protectorate” were years of complete humiliation and absence of any rights for the Czechs. Prohibition of the use of their national language, mass repression, forced labor – all this continued for 6 years. Truth be told, the “good” Western “allies” began forming members of the “Czech government in exile” from the Czech immigrants after the outbreak of the war with Germany. During this time regular Czech people worked for the military industry of the Third Reich. At that moment, they could remember the “good old days” of Austro-Hungary, in which the Czech language was used for local self-government and the Czech MPs were able to represent their interests in the imperial parliament … The German masters considered Czechs as “Untermensch”. It was not until May 1945 that the resistance movement decided to start an uprising, which was successfully suppressed by the Germans. The Czech resistance fighters dreamed that they could liberate Prague before the arrival of the Red Army (the uprising in Warsaw in 1944, without coordination with the Allies, taught them nothing). They were ready for anything, even for cooperation with the Vlasov Army, which decided to change sides at the last minute (again) and help the rebels. However, the German army, numbering about one million men in Czechoslovakia, did not want to surrender. Unlike Warsaw, which was completely demolished, Prague was saved from total destruction by the rapid and decisive offensive of the troops of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.
After the war, Czechoslovakia was rebuilt as a state, and completely undeservedly, entered the “club of the victors”. The Czechs and Slovaks once again had basic human rights and were even entitled to war reparations. It is true that the country entered the Soviet bloc, just as it is true that Western European countries made it into the American zone of influence, but despite the destruction of their own country, the Soviet Union assisted the rebuilding of the Czechoslovak economy. The monument to Marshal Ivan Konev was unveiled in Prague. The marshal waved the city’s residents with his hand.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the good marshal and protector of Prague, Ivan Konev suddenly became the enemy of the new Czech Republic. The salvation of Prague from destruction was quickly forgotten. Now he has become an oppressor of liberty, a bloody marshal who was guilty of stifling the rebellion in neighboring Hungary and stifling the Prague Spring. Plaques were deliberately placed near the monument to indicate this.
The children and grandchildren of those who, without any resistance, agreed to the German occupation and abolition of the sovereignty of their own country, the children and grandchildren of those whose facilities produced a third of German tanks without murmurings, at night, went out and painted the monument to the Soviet marshal. Truth be told, there were Czechs who cleaned the monument from the vandals and paid their respects for the glorious victory and the liberation of their country.
During this time, official Prague, with the help of Western historians, reworked the history of the Munich Agreement. According to recent history, there was no need to fight, and the Czech army “could not even do it.” Apart from surrender, there was no other choice. And so, the Czechs did everything right, because it was only right to listen to Paris and London pushing Hitler to the East, handing him one territory after another.
During that time, Marshall stood and waved to Czech and foreign tourists, filling Prague’s budget. But he began to “get in the way more and more”. It could be said that there is no need to wage war against monuments. The shameful act of a municipal administrator Ondřej Kolář, educated in America, teaches us that this is not the case. At the time of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Ondřej Kolář had nothing better to do but to dismantle the monument to Marshal Konev, cynically stating “that the monument has no mask on its face.” The Czech authorities have stated that they can do nothing to stop the representative of the local government, who can decide for himself which monument can be removed and which not. The proposal by the Russian authorities to transfer the monument to the Russian Federation, on the other hand was categorically rejected, as it is clear that they are “in charge” in that particular case.
By comparison, the 2007 scandal in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, Soviet monuments were transferred to a military cemetery. But the Estonian authorities did everything in silence, finding a new place for the monument. Some countries have returned monuments to Russia, where there is always a place for its heroes. On the other hand, many politicians act as if they were vandals, one of them being Ondřej Kolář. The municipal administrator made provocative comments during the removal of the monument. What is in the minds of the aforementioned politician and the people behind him is not quite clear.
To provoke the Russian bear one month before the anniversary of the victory over Germany at the time of the spread of the deadly virus and the economic crisis is stupid, to put it mildly. Notwithstanding the many political shortcomings of the Russian political elite, one thing is for sure, they treat the feats of Soviet soldiers as being sacred. Presuming that Moscow “will not notice” the disgraceful actions of Kolář during the epidemic is very naive. There will surely be consequences, and we will see them soon.