Czechoslovakia in Second World War
Czechoslovak Republic was established in November, 1918 as a political successor of the former and now eliminated Austro-Hungarian Empire. In October, 1938 German Reich has occupied territory of Czechoslovak’s Sudetenland due to the terms of previously signed Munich Agreement (Czechoslovak Republic took part de facto). On March 14, 1939 state had to agree with the German protectorate and formally occupation by German troops. At the same day, right-wing politic party with Joseph Tito proclaimed so-called First Czechoslovak Republic, which have existed, as German satellite till the soviet occupation in Spring 1945.
Troops of a new Republic participated in Polish Campaign in Autumn 1939 and took back some previously lost territories. In Summer 1941 some military formations of the First Czechoslovak Republic took part in campaign against USSR, known as «Barbarossa operation». Despite the union with Germany, some military units of Czechoslovak have shifted their side during the next years of war at the East and joined partisan units against Wehrmacht.
Spring 1944, when Red army formations had reached the border with Czechoslovak, German Wehrmacht assisted their minions and Joseph Tito in creating two infantry divisions of 24 000 soldiers total. Their mission was to give a battle to the Russians and help Wehrmacht to hold the Eastern front. In August 1944 Republic witnessed anti-fascist rival with the core strength in partisans and particular units of the army. Joseph Tito asked for help and German troops occupied Republic, arrested rival leaders, but the resistance was not eliminated. Remnants of the movement joined Russian troops, which crossed the border on September 21, 1944 as 20 000 of Slovak army after this. German army lost more than 10 000 men.
Till the end of 1944 only small part of Czechoslovak was liberated. Winter campaign succeeded on the whole front and local population now could join the movement against Germany and Tito’s party. «Bratislava–Brno Operation» was initiated on March 25, 1945 and finally resulted in total liberation of the Czechoslovak territory from Germans and former government and, by this means, soviet occupation. Liberation of Bratislava was one of the main goals. Total military casualties of the Soviet army within the liberation of Slovakia reached 100 000 men.
Creation of Slavin Memorial in Bratislava
April 4, 1945 is a formal date of the liberation of Bratislava, modern capital of Slovakia which is still an important annual event. Battle between German 6-th Army and 3-rd Hungarian Army on the one side and 2 Ukrainian Front on the other started on April 2. Completely territory of Bratislava was liberated on April 5 1945. Total volume of casualties is not to be precisely determined, but soviet units created a military cemetery on the one of the city hills with 6845 men buried there. Within the next fifteen years after the war it remained a cemetery hill.
In 1957 new government had decided to create a memorial complex, devoted to the upcoming 15-th anniversary of the liberation. Slavin memorial was the only and obvious candidate for this role. Slavin Memorial Complex in Bratislava was ceremonially opened on April 3, 1960 and a year after it was established as National monument. Within the next decades Slovak senior officials, of course presidents and foreign guests have been annually coming here to the Slavin Memorial to honor the memory of soldiers who fought and died for the freedom.
Slavin Memorial Complex
Slavin Bratislava is a monumental military monument on the highest hill in Bratislava, which provide you a panorama for the whole city. Its obelisk can be seen from the most city districts. Slavin Memorial Complex is located almost at the very heart of Slovak capital, near the Old city of Bratislava and at close distance to Bratislava Castle. As the main obelisk noticed from anywhere, it’s no problem to get this site (20 minutes from the city center).
Monumental double-deck marble staircase is a common ceremonially entrance to the Slavin Memorial Complex. Its central part between two stairs is decorated with an anaglyph with five soldiers, one of which fell on knees to kiss and honor the Colours. We can see a memorable inscription on Slovak and Russian:
Never forget the heroes, who died in defense of Liberty and Independence of our country!
After getting up the staircase, you will face an incredible panorama on the most well-known parts of the Slavin Bratislava: Obelisk of 50-meters high and a square covered with marble plates. On the both sides you can see six collective graves and 278 individual graves with the names, birth and death dates, photos and flowers. Slavin Memorial Complex in Bratislava honors the memory and contains graves of 6 845 men and women.
In addition to small alleys, which unites parts of the Slavin Bratislava, there is also big marble plate on the right side. It remains the inscription of the names of soldiers and civils, who gave their lives liberating Bratislava and Slovakia (in particular those who died in hospitals, were also buried here, in Slavin)
50-meter high obelisk is the very heart of the Slavin Bratislava, which can be easily noticed all over the city. It consists of two parts: 39 meters high pylon and 11-meter statue of a soldier. It stands on Hall of Honor with marble staircase all round. Inside, behind big bronze door, we can find noticeable marble plate. Outer walls of the Hall of Honor are decorated with stars and titles of cities and villages, along with the dates of its liberation in 1944-1945.
If you decide to spend some more time walking along Slavin Memorial, it also contains half-destroyed fortifications of the First World War, wooden Cristian Cross, empty water poles. Whole visit of the Complex will take you an hour or less as all component are close to each other. After all you can make some gorgeous photos of Bratislava.
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