General Patton Liberated Pilsen In 1945
When World War II was drawing to a close, Czech and Slovak troops, along with some units of the Red Army, entered Slovakia from the East in 1944 to help the so-called Slovak National Uprising in their fight to liberate their country from the Germans. This move started with a fierce and bloody battle of the Dukla Pass, so often celebrated by the communists. The political goal of the Soviets at that time was to place the Czechs and Slovaks in the front lines of the battle in order to practically eliminate most of the military elite.
General Patton’s 3rd Army was approaching Czechoslovakia from the West and crossed the border near the city of As on April 18, 1945. After liberating As and Cheb, the Americans proceeded toward Pilsen.
On May 1, 1945 the surrender of Germany was signed by general Alfred Jodl after Adolf Hitler had committed suicide. Soon thereafter the Pilsen Skoda works were bombarded and on May 5, general Patton’s army started to move toward the city itself. At the same time an uprising arose in Pilsen, led by the workers of the Skoda factory. And by May 6 Pilsen was completely liberated and all German troops were disabled and disarmed.
Unfortunately, the American army was not allowed to proceed much further after Pilsen. It had to stop at a demarcation line a little beyond the town of Rokycany – as had been agreed upon by the Allied leaders some time before the end of the war. Thus many lives of innocent people were lost unnecessarily during the following few days.
In the meantime, an uprising against the German army arose in Prague on May 5. The Prague citizens called for help using the local radio, but General Eisenhower did not allow General Patton to cross the demarcation line. Prague liberated itself during the next few days with the help of Vlasov’s Freedom Fighters. Unfortunately many more lives were lost unnecessarily between May 5-9, until the Soviet army finally reached Prague.
After the communists seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, it was strictly forbidden to publicly mention or acknowledge that the American army liberated Western Bohemia and thereby helped the whole country.Michal Huzvar
Translation by Marie Dolanska
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