In front of the Palace of Justice at Kinsky Square in Prague, a few anonymous stones are all that is left of the once powerful monument to the Soviet soldiers who liberated Prague from German Nazi occupation. In 1945, the long postponed Prague Uprising forced the Soviet army to accelerate its pace, rushing to enter the city ahead of its original plan. As a result, at least 150.000 Red Army soldiers and officers lost their lives.
Gratitude did not last long. After the so-called “Velvet Revolution”, the Czechs joined NATO and placed themselves at the forefront of the venomous anti-Russian and anti-Communist propaganda.
Almost all monuments commemorating the liberation of Czech Lands by the Red Army from German occupation were destroyed. The leitmotif on Kinsky Square used to be a mighty Soviet tank, one of the symbols of the liberation. But after Czechs were ‘embraced by the West’; the tank was first painted pink, then, in 1991, removed altogether.
A new memorial was raised in Pilsen, the only major city liberated by the US troops. “Thank you America!” it proclaims.
The US had hardly any casualties while liberating Pilsen, and before their troops entered, Pilsen’s enormous Skoda factories were savagely bombed by the USAF, to make sure that the future “Eastern block” would not get this jewel in the Czech heavy industry crown.
Others say that the Allies bombed Skoda as a punishment: Czechs were shamelessly collaborating with the Nazi Germany, too. There was hardly any resistance, and Czech industry was working extremely hard, supplying German army with weapons and other products essential for the war.
Just two minutes walk from Kinsky Square, “The Memorial to the victims of Communism” offers an eerie insight into the new wave of Czech collaboration; this time with the Western Empire. In this tasteless piece of ‘art’, a naked man with bizarrely prominent erection is depicted in several stages of decomposition.
Even this outrageous piece of post-Cold-War propaganda admits that only 248 people were executed during the long decades of Czechoslovak Communist Party rule, a miniscule number compared to tens of millions of those who died as a result of Western terror in Indochina, Indonesia (1965/66), Latin America, Middle East and Africa, as well as in Western Europe, where the left-wing parties and movements were being liquidated after the WWII (under Operation Gladio and other “projects”), and where fascist regimes were imposed on countries like Greece and Turkey.
During my recent visit to Prague, a famous performer and thinker, Milan Kohout, was staging an act at the Memorial. He began by stuffing a decomposed body of a ‘victim of Communism’ with several symbols of Western consumerism: from Marlboro cigarette boxes, to coffee cartons. Milan Kohout, a former Czech dissident and signatory of ‘Charter-77’, used to be a friend and colleague of Vaclav Havel, but after emigrating to the US, he turned around, attacked Western imperialism and neoliberalism, and now finds himself in the camp of those who are fighting against Western Empire.
“Why do Czechs hate Russians so much?” I asked him right there, in front of the Monument.
“Because they were kissing their asses so intensively”, he replied. “It is embarrassing how Czechs were behaving, when the Soviets were in charge. Nobody asked them to go to such extremes. And since they are unable to hate and ridicule themselves, they now blame everything on the Russians and Communism. More than two decades ago they switched the sides, again, and now they are collaborating with the West. So now they are, logically, anti-Soviet and anti-Russia. It is such a hypocrisy!”
At the end of March, the US military convoy entered the Czech territory, on its way from the Baltics and Poland, to its permanent base in Bavarian Vilseck, Germany. Instead of travelling by rail, it was sent on a provocative, anti-Russian ‘show of force’ road travel, christened as “Dragoon Ride”.
The English language daily, Prague Post, commented in a predictable, servile tone of voice:
“The “Dragoon Ride” is to demonstrate support for the allies’ territories that feel threatened by the Russian aggression in Ukraine…
Thousands of people welcomed the U.S. military convoys on the border and along the roads and motorways in the Czech Republic today, while only dozens of opponents protested against U.S. troops…”
Thousands of people welcomed the convoy at the border crossings and bridges, carrying Czech and U.S. flags, and yelling “welcome!” in English.
A man who re-painted the Soviet tank/monument pink is a Czech artist David Černý. This is his glorifying outburst, regarding the US convoy, titled “Hurray, this is going to make Bolsheviks sick!” (Published by a Czech daily Lidove noviny):
“I don’t want only a convoy, we want at least one permanent American base. But better more than one! I thing that the most horrific thing is, how Putin-KGB propaganda tries to misuse, by all perverse means, this standard action of NATO.”
Several Czech groups were using social media to organize in advance what is called ‘a grand welcome’ for the Americans. Plans included beer stands with cold Pilsner beer accompanied with loud cheers, as well as ‘expressions of solidarity’ with the GI’s and member states of NATO.
There were other initiatives, with the most vocal called, “Welcoming of the American Army” (Vitani americke armady).
“Freedom Forum”, organized by a journalist named, Pavel Safr, claims: “At the points through which the American convoy will be passing, and where there is a danger of shameful actions of pro-Russian extremists, posts will be erected. We call them “czechpoints” and they will be similar to the military checkpoints. There, Czech supporters of the US army will be gathering, supporting our allies.”
Pro-American and pro-NATO elements were sending warnings that those who dare to protest against the US military presence on Czech territory could face consequences, including physical attacks.
At the end, only a handful of protesters had the guts to attend.
Of course not all Czechs are anti-Russian, not all of them are supporting NATO and aggressive US foreign policy and militarism; not all collaborate.
While Czech mass media outlets are fully in-line with the Western propaganda apparatus, the Czech public is deeply divided on the issue.
Recently, Monika Horeni, editor of the Left Wing Czech daily Haló noviny, explained to me her view on the US convoy:
I see it this way: those who are defending Czech membership and activities in NATO are co-responsible for spreading the conflicts in the world. Present expression of collaboration is that the entire Czech government – all ministers from the right-wing and from the Social Democratic Party – agreed with the provocative passing of the US military column through Czech Republic, which will take place between 29 March and 1 April.
Unfortunately, part of Czech public collaborates as well.
Nobody with his or her sane mind can understand why is column not moving through the railways – why is it going to provoke by its presence in our cities. It is simply a show of force – exactly as the US representatives described it.
Recently, when confronted, Czech President Miloš Zeman declared that he would have no problem watching Russian tanks on the Red Square in Moscow, during the Victory Day in May, celebration, which he decided to attend. He added that Soviet soldiers “sacrificed their lives for freedom of our people”, and there is nothing wrong in acknowledging their achievements.
These days, the Czech Republic is a confused and depressing place.
Its membership in the EU robbed it of most of its fabled industry. The membership in NATO took away its independence. It’s incredibly close relationship with the US and Israel took away its dignity.
During the “Soviet Era”, the world was not perfect. Prague was gray. But Czechs and Slovaks were fighting for a better world, confronting Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.
Now, the Czechs are participating in almost all the military adventures of the Empire.
Sadly, the new “freedom” meant joining the Empire, imperialism, and the usurpers. Czechs are sensing that they betrayed, again. But the fact seems to be too frightening to be defined. And there is no media that would carry such message, anyway.
Prague is now full of kitsch, physical and mental. Old and great theatres and art cinemas are replaced with despicable cheap crystal shops and massage parlors. Enthusiasm and zeal is replaced with pragmatism and greed.
And the US army, which is murdering innocent people, all over the world, is being welcomed with cheers, and served with cold Pilsner beer.
Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist, he’s a creator of Vltchek’s World an a dedicated Twitter user, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.