Light a candle in person or online to honor heroes of Prague Uprising today

The Czech capital saw some of the last fighting in World War II; plaques mark the spots were people died in the fighting.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 05.05.2023 09:30:00 (updated on 04.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

May 5 marks the 78th anniversary of the start of the Prague Uprising, the last fighting that took place in World War II in Europe.

Commemorations will be fairly low-key, with Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda paying his respects at a plaque on Old Town Hall at 10 a.m. Svoboda will also be at the Czech Radio building on Vinohradská Street at 12:30 p.m. Other politicians and civic groups will add wreaths to these locations throughout the day. While these are mainly photo opportunities for the press, the public can also attend.

Plaques marking spots where Czech freedom fighters died, or in some cases where they lived or worked, can be found across the city. The individual city districts place wreaths or flowers near the memorials, and members of the public can also leave flowers or candles.

An interactive map of all of the Prague Uprising memorials can be found on the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha) website. People can light virtual candles online to honor the people behind each location. This year, the map has been expanded to include graves associated with victims of World War II. The map was launched last year.

Memorial plaque near the Czech Radio building for two unknown heroes. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Memorial plaque near the Czech Radio building for two unknown heroes. Photo: Raymond Johnston

The main memorial service to mark the end of World War II will take place at the National Memorial at Vítkov on May 8 at 10 a.m., with Defense Minister Jana Černochová and Chief of the General Staff Karel Řehka. Other politicians including President Petr Pavel are expected to attend. The ceremony usually includes a fly-over of military jets.

The Czech government will open the garden in front of the Straka Academy on May 6 and Liechtenstein Palace on Kampa on May 8 for tours.

Fighting spread from then-Czechoslovak Radio building

The uprising, also called the May Revolution, took place on May 5–9, 1945. Citizens of Prague attempted to seize control of the city from the occupying German Army. Soviet forces were approaching from the east, and the American Army had made its way to Pilsen, but Prague had not been liberated. Fighting began near the then-Czechoslovak Radio building on Vinohradská Street and spread throughout the city.

During the uprising, 1,694 resistance fighters were killed and another 1,600 wounded, according to official figures. The German side had an estimated 1,000 causalities. Casualties also include 300 members of the Russian Liberation Army and 30 members of the Soviet Army.

At the end of the uprising, the German forces set fire to Old Town Hall on Old Town Square, destroying the city archives and doing significant damage to the tower and the Astronomical Clock, which was repaired after the war.

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