The last days of the war

Museum T. G. Masaryk Lany

Reflection of the World War II in the collections of the T.G.M. Museum in Rakovník

The T. G. M. Museum in Rakovník
The T. G. M. Museum in Rakovník, a contributory organization established by the Central Bohemian Regional Authority, has collections thematically focused on the Rakovník Region. This region is located a short distance to the west of Prague. The T. G. M. Museum in Rakovník operates several interesting museums in this region – the Rakovník Museum, the Nové Strašecí Museum, the T.G. Masaryk Museum at Lány, Museum at Jesenice, the Joachim Barrande Museum in Skryje among other facilities. These museums administer a great deal of interesting material in their collections, including photographs and archival materials. They work on various subjects, which range in scope from regional to supraregional.
The end of the Second World War
Unfortunately, the end of World War Two and the first postwar days is a period that has yet to be satisfactorily investigated – as it pertains to our region, that is. It has been, and still remains, a very complicated and taboo-ridden subject. The end of the war brought not only joy – in the shape of our liberation and newly regained freedom – but also experiences that were truly chilling. Many were eager to settle accounts with the Nazis and their informers, but the people who ended up killed were often innocent. Extrajudicial killings and the mass slaughter of both Germans and Czechs were frequent occurrences. Normal workaday life – life without fear of death, without fear of food shortages and with a general sense of existential security – returned very slowly, gradually.
End of the war in historical photographs
The period atmosphere of the final days of World War II and the first postwar days in the towns of Rakovník and Nové Strašecí were captured by a number of amateur and professional photographers.
Interesting unique
To the west, the Rakovník Region bordered on the Demarcation Line – a zone in the west of the country that divided the spheres of influence exercised by the Allied forces. The Demarcation Line ran between the cities of Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, and České Budějovice, defining how far the American and Soviet armies could advance (the Americans remaining to the west of the line, the Soviets to the east). Consequently, the towns and communities in the Rakovník Region were, for the most part, liberated by the Red Army. However, in Nové Strašecí we boast a rarity – a photograph of a U.S. Army reconnaissance vehicle.
Return inhabitants of the concentration camps
End of the World War II meant freedom and return to the normal life for many people who returned from appalling conditions of the concentration camps. Unfortunately, most of all but above all the Jewish population never returned.
The Prague Uprising in 1945
The relative proximity of the Rakovník Region to Prague also played a role when the local inhabitants set out to help Prague, the capital, on May 5, 1945, the day the Prague Uprising broke out. Some of the people who lived through those days or actually participated directly in those events are still alive today. Reminiscences of these contemporary witnesses and photographs of these events are available in the museum

Mr. Antonín Bechyně joined the group of volunteers, who left Lány to help Prague. There he went throught bombing of enemy aircrafts and shootouts with the Nazis. He was twenty years old.

Return of President Edvard Beneš to Czechoslovak Republic
The Rakovník Region extends all the way into an area close to Prague, where the municipality of Lány is to be found, with the summer residence of the President of the Republic and the T. G. Masaryk Museum. This museum has on display, among other interesting exhibits, several surviving photographs showing President Edvard Beneš’s return to his homeland in 1945.
Political changes
But the end of the war was bringing other changes as well – especially in the political arena. Gradually, the state came to be dominated by the Communist Party, which was propped up mainly by the Soviet Union. Events came to a head in 1948: the Communists seized power in a coup d’état and established a totalitarian regime that would last fifty long years.
Museum T. G. Masaryk Lany
Credits: Story

Subject and author of the text: Magdalena Elznicová Mikesková
Digital photographs and photography exhibits: Daniela Vokounová

Selection of items and photos: Kateřina Uhrová

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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