On 9 May 1945, sixteen-year-old Václav, the son of the owner of a tractor factory in Kosmonosy, set off on his bicycle to neighboring Mladá Boleslav. There they were looking for boys to work as bicycle messengers. But just as he was waiting in the office of the national committee, the raid began.
“It fell very close. Like we had practiced in the shelter. Pieces of the ceiling were falling,” he recalled.
When he came out after the air raid, the square was all dust and fallen plaster. He ran into a framing shop on the corner where his friend worked. “Her torso was on the counter. It tore off her arms and lower legs. And it took off her clothes, too. She was in nothing but ripped panties. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked girl,” he described the shocking experience.
Officially, it was claimed that Mladá Boleslav was bombed by the Germans. In reality, it was a Red Army air raid to prevent German troops from retreating to American captivity. “They were bombing roads crowded with fleeing Germans,” said Václav Svoboda. “They were very concerned about the prisoners. They wanted to take them to work in Russia. But we were not allowed to talk about that.”
Nazi Germany was defeated in the Second World War by the determination, bravery, and combat deployment of soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Poland, France, the Soviet Union, and other countries and nations. But the Soviet Union, led by the dictator Stalin, did not join the Allies until it itself was attacked by the Nazis in June 1941. Until then, the USSR had acted as a partner of Nazi Germany in the spirit of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact concluded shortly before the outbreak of the war. At that time, when tens of thousands of Czechoslovaks fled from the Nazis to the USSR, they often ended up in gulag labor camps. The Red Army did not enter the war until the summer of 1941 after Nazi Germany had invaded.
The Soviet Union deployed over six million soldiers to the Eastern Front. We can speak of great heroism and huge losses. The Red Army, with great effort, defeated the better armed and trained German Wehrmacht, and with it the prestige of the “land of the Soviets” logically grew. However, when we talk about the liberation of Czechoslovakia, we must mention, besides the Soviet victims (up to 140,000 Red Army soldiers are said to have died), the tens of thousands of our soldiers fighting alongside the Allies on the Eastern and Western fronts, the brave Slovak insurgents, the paratroopers, partisans and thousands of their helpers, the insurgents from the barricades of Czech towns at the end of the war, and last but not least the soldiers of the American Army who liberated part of the Czechoslovak territory from the west, as well as the forgotten Romanian soldiers advancing with the Soviets from the east. On 8 May 1945, after six long years, peace reigned in Europe and Czechoslovakia became a liberated country. But not free.