Lahovice, a small settlement at the confluence of the Vltava and Berounka rivers, became a site of great courage and tragedy in the days of May 1945. The local bridge over the Berounka River was an important strategic point, a place where German soldiers wanted to penetrate rebellious Prague.

From the 5th of May, barricades were erected on the road leading from Zbraslav to Prague. Josef Bachura, a young man from Lahovice, also was also keeping guard on them. He remembers hearing rumbling from the west on the night of May 6th. He was excited that it might be American troops, but in fact it was soldiers of the Russian Liberation Army (ROA), the so-called Vlasovists. At the end of the war, the army formed from Soviet prisoners of war wanted to break free from Nazi rule and briefly provided aid to the Czech rebels.

On the morning of May 7th, German soldiers managed to break through the bridge after several attempts. The Nazis wanted to avenge the death of their officer, arrested dozens of men, executed many of them, and led others, including Josef, as human shields along the main road towards Prague. Another barricade near Velká Chuchle stood in their way. “When we came within fifty meters, a defender came out of the barricade and shot a German soldier.” A firefight broke out. Josef Bachura ran off the embankment and fell to the ground.

“In the end, a Vlasovist saved me. He saw me and called out to me in Russian: ‘Come here, I’m Russian.’”

He spent the next few hours in territory under Vlasovist protection, returning home the next day when the fighting had subsided.

The brave resistance of the defenders of the Lahovice barricades helped to slow the Nazi advance from the south into the center of Prague. The price was high, however; more than 40 were killed or executed by the Nazis.


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.