New Document About The First Czechoslovak Army
Two Americans, Bruce Bendinger and John Iltis arrived in Prague in the Fall of 2008 and brought with them a new film that they worked on for almost ten years - a document dealing with the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia during and after WWI.
Mr. Bendinger stated that he was always interested in history. His parents had a big book about the First World War with many pictures, among which there was a photograph of an armoured train full of Czechoslovak legionnaires. He became interested in the founding of Czechoslovakia and its heroes who seemed to be forgotten in their homeland. He felt that there was a great story here that should be further explored. Since he was not a film maker, he obtained the cooperation of John Iltis who had much experience in producing historic documents.
Bendinger did research in the Military History Museum in Prague and found lots of useful material there in spite of the fact that many documents had been intentionally destroyed by the communists in previous years. The two men received a grant from the Czech Dept. of Foreign Affaires, but much financial support was obtained in the USA. The premiere of the film at the Chicago History Museum - attanded by Czech-Americans from as far away as Texas and California, was sponsored by the Czechvar group at Anheuser- Busch.
The 45-minute film presents unique pictures of the army and military techniques, and tells an interesting story. Also included in the film are some remarks by history professors from American universities, and maps of the terrain. Czech subtitles are provided.
The document could be produced because of very efficient cooperation of the historian Tomas Jakl and consultant Plk. Jan Horal.
Various organizations and personalities in the US are helping with the distribution of the documentary, e.g. the Czech Consulate in Chicago, the American Sokol,etc. Even Madeleine Allbright showed interest in the project. It is hoped that the film will find a sponsor so that it could be distributed into schools to teach the younger generations about the history and heroism of the Czechs and Slovaks.
It is interesting to note that there is much more authentic film material prepared by the legionnaires themselves in the National Film Archives in Prague. It is hoped that it will be utilized to produce more historical films that might be ready for the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia in 2018.Translated by Marie Dolanska
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