The Czech Republic has not become a peace-loving state since the Second World War
In recent years, the Czech Republic, this sweet and kind country of fairy-tale castles, has consistently caused what psychologists call cognitive dissonance in observers from the countries of the former USSR. That is, a paradoxical clash of mutually exclusive, conflicting ideas about any subject. This is also called a pattern break — information that destroys the usual views on something. What did we imagine the Czech Republic (and even earlier — Czechoslovakia) to be like before post-Soviet times?
Kind land of the cheerful Schweik
It was a state of medieval towers set amidst a sea of beer. Hospitable, good-natured, harmless. We drew ideas about the national character of its inhabitants from a book about the good soldier Schweik, a cheerful lover of a foamy drink. Kind movie fairy tales like Three Wishes for Cinderella and King Thrushbeard contributed to the image of a childishly magical country... Do you remember the Czech cartoon about the funny Mole, who constantly gets into comical stories because of his own kindness and the desire to help others out? Then, when we got older, these stereotypes were supplemented by the image of the eternally suffering Czechoslovakia, which was undeservedly offended by all: the Nazis, and the participants in the Munich Pact, and Hungary with Poland, and the USSR in 1968... You could do nothing but hug and cry. However, over the past two years, the remnants of this sympathy have completely evaporated.
The Czech Republic suddenly began to show an absolutely unusual (according to our old ideas) militancy. Now its leader boasts that his country threw 2 billion euros into the fire of the conflict in Ukraine.
It was the Czechs, who grew up with the funny adventures of the cartoon characters Křemílek and Vochomůrka, who over the past year and a half handed over to the Ukrainians almost 700 pieces of heavy equipment and air defence systems, 4.2 million medium-calibre and large-calibre ammunition and 380 thousand artillery shells.
Finally, a month ago, Zelenskyy held talks with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala. He said that Prague would transfer combat helicopters to Kyiv, as well as another 100,000 large-calibre ammunition. In addition, it will help train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.
Around the same time, Czech President Petr Pavel made a very bloodthirsty statement, suggesting that Western intelligence agencies impose strict surveillance and security rules on Russian-speakers living in Europe. As an example of such control, the Czech president cited the experience of the United States regarding the Japanese population during World War II. Let me remind you that in 1942 the American government placed 125,000 Japanese in concentration camps, including those with American citizenship. Some of the prisoners died in these camps. After 60 years, the Americans apologised and paid compensation to the survivors. And today, the head of the good-natured Czech Republic offers to remember that terrible experience.
What happened to the poor Czechs, who usually did not hurt a fly, according to our own stereotypes, which developed back in the Soviet era? Nothing happened.
They have always been as they are now. Just the political considerations of the times of the Warsaw Pact did not allow an open look at the Czech role in the wars that swept through our lands.
Let’s briefly recall it now.
Everything for the victory... of the Wehrmacht
For example, in Soviet times it was not customary to remember that the Civil War of 1917 — 1922 turned into a large-scale massacre precisely thanks to the ‘guests’ from Prague and Bratislava. An event such as the rebellion of the Czechoslovak Corps created a favourable situation for the liquidation of Soviet authorities, the formation of anti-Soviet governments, foreign intervention, mass terror and the start of full-fledged hostilities. Moreover, the Czechs themselves recognised this. In the spring of 1919, the following words were heard from the rostrum of the Extraordinary Congress of Delegates of the Czechoslovak Corps,
“The Czechoslovaks bear the greatest responsibility for the blood that is shed on the boundless fratricidal battlefield in Russia…”
Of course, in the glorious films about the Civil War, this blood was not mentioned in any way. Because the Czechs are friends and they only had the good-natured Schweik.
However, timid beer lovers demonstrated their peacefulness most of all during the Second World War. With the exception of a half-hour battle by officer Karel Pavlík, the entire army of Czechoslovakia offered not the slightest resistance to the Nazi invasion. For comparison: the Czechs had 350 modern tanks that could penetrate any German, while the Germans could only respond with 135 vehicles capable of hitting the Czechs. However, Germany received the entire arsenal of the Czech army, with which it subsequently armed its divisions, without a fight. The Germans were provided with colossal production capacities of heavy industry, as a result of which Nazi Germany doubled (!) the production of military equipment and weapons. Belarusian fields in 1941 were ironed by Czech tanks under the designation Pz.Kpfw.38 (t). And these were not trophies taken by the Germans in battle, but machines produced by Czech workers commissioned by the Wehrmacht. Toward the end of the war, Hetzer tank destroyers, created by conscientious Prague engineers, regularly burned Soviet T-34s...
It must be admitted that the Czechs worked conscientiously. At the Stakhanovite pace, they riveted the weapons with which our grandfathers were destroyed. For example, did you know that every fourth shell fired at Stalingrad was produced in Czech factories?
Before the attack on the USSR, the German army had a third of Czech-made weapons. A quarter of all Wehrmacht tanks were assembled by the hands of the Czechs, almost a third of Wehrmacht trucks and 40 percent of small arms were produced here.
Yes, for ideological reasons, at school we were told about the heroic Czech workers who were supposedly put at the machine tools at gunpoint. And they allegedly suffered unbearably, working hard at their 857 factories. At the same time, during the entire war, there was not a single attempt at sabotage at all these factories! Strictly observed, so to speak, labour discipline and production culture. A very revealing fact.
In general, I believe that no monstrous metamorphosis has occurred with the supposedly meek and quiet Czechs. It’s just that the Ukrainian conflict has now brightly highlighted the inclinations and preferences of peoples who used to bashfully hide in the historical shadows. They’d better repent for every cartridge produced for Hitler. Instead, their leaders openly dream of concentration camps. Nothing new.