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Czechoslovakia: Czech Resistance
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > The War Years, 1939-45 > Czech Resistance

CZECH RESISTANCE


In exile, Benes organized a resistance network. Hacha, Prime Minister Elias, and the Czech resistance acknowledged Benes's leadership. Active collaboration between London and the Czechoslovak home front was maintained throughout the war years. The Czech resistance comprised four main groups. The army command coordinated with a multitude of spontaneous groupings to form the Defense of the Nation (Obrana naroda -- ON) with branches in Britain and France. Benes's collaborators, led by Prokop Drtina, created the Political Center (Politicke ustredi -- PU). The PU was nearly destroyed by arrests in November 1939, after which younger politicians took control. Social democrats and leftist intellectuals, in association with such groups as trade-unions and educational institutions, constituted the Committee of the Petition We Remain Faithful (Peticni vybor Verni zustanme -- PVVZ).

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Komunisticka strana Ceskoslovenska -- KSC) was the fourth resistance group. The KSC had been one of over twenty political parties in the democratic First Republic, but it had never gained sufficient votes to unsettle the domocratic government. After the Munich Agreement the leadership of the KSC moved to Moscow and the party went underground. Until 1943, however, KSC resistance was weak. The Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact in 1939 had left the KSC in disarray. But ever faithful to the Soviet line, the KSC began a more active struggle against the Nazis after Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941.

The democratic groups -- ON, PU, and PVVZ -- united in early 1940 and formed the Central Committee of the Home Resistance (Ustredni vybor odboje domaciho -- UVOD). Involved primarily in intelligence gathering, the UVOD cooperated with a Soviet intelligence organization in Prague. Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the democratic groups attempted to create a united front that would include the KSC. Heydrich's appointment in the fall thwarted these efforts. By mid-1942 the Nazis had succeeded in exterminating the most experienced elements of the Czech resistance forces.

Czech forces regrouped in 1942 and 1943. The Council of the Three (R3), in which the communist underground was strongly represented, emerged as the focal point of the resistance. The R3 prepared to assist the liberating armies of the United States and the Soviet Union. In cooperation with Red Army partisan units, the R3 developed a guerrilla structure.

Guerrilla activity intensified after the formation of a provisional Czechoslovak government in Kosice on April 4, 1945. "National committees" took over the administration of towns as the Germans were expelled. Under the supervision of the Red Army, more than 4,850 such committees were formed between 1944 and the end of the war. On May 5 a national uprising began spontaneously in Prague, and the newly formed Czech National Council (Ceska narodni rada) almost immediately assumed leadership of the revolt. Over 1,600 barricades were erected throughout the city, and some 30,000 Czech men and women battled for three days against 37,000 to 40,000 German troops backed by tanks and artillery. On May 8 the German Wehrmacht capitulated; Soviet troops arrived on May 9.

Data as of August 1987




Last Updated: August 1987


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Czechoslovakia was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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