Sixty years ago, on May 5th, 1945, Pilsen, my Czech hometown, was liberated by the 2nd and 97th infantry divisions and the 16th armored division - soldiers led by General Patton. Most of Czechoslovakia - about 90% - was denazified by the Red Army which was one of the primary reasons why socialism controlled the country for nearly 45 years that followed. Sadly, George Patton was not allowed to take Prague.
As schoolkids, we were not taught that the U.S. troops - who were always smiling and giving chewing gums and Coke to everyone - should be credited for the victory in Pilsen. Some brave history teachers may be counted as exceptions; most teachers, however, preferred politically correct lies. Whenever a bad boy asked the question whether it was true that it was the Americans who liberated us, the teacher had to say that the only thing America did was to bomb the factories - because they already knew that we would be building socialism and they wanted to damage the emerging communist economy. Dissidents like me sometimes wanted to organize public celebrations, but it was usually difficult to figure out who could be the other participant. ;-)
Everything changed after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 - and the first celebrations of the U.S. victory in May 1990 were spectacular. Since those times, the celebrations took place every year - with a lot of military vehicles, veterans, important figures - presidents, ambassadors, Madeleine Albright, and so forth. They are just having some fun in Pilsen and the website of the 60th anniversary may be found here:
You may find some historical pictures from the end of the World War II on that web, much like newer pictures from the festivals 1990-2004. Not too many. ;-)Thanks, General Patton, and thanks, America!
New prime minister
Just a fast comment: the Czech Republic has a new prime minister. Stanislav Gross, Europe's youngest prime minister, had to resign because of the scandal with funding a luxurious apartment (and his wife's friend's brothel), and he was replaced by another social democrat Jiří Paroubek, not to be confused with Joe Quimby, the mayor of Springfield.