Czech Politicians Commemorate Establishment of Independent Czechoslovakia

The Vitkov Memorial was established in honour of the Czechoslovak legionnaires, who contributed to the establishment of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. Credit: Zenon Moreau / BD.

Prague, Oct 28 (CTK) – Military representatives, war veterans, and senior Czech politicians, including President Milos Zeman and PM Petr Fiala (ODS), today commemorated the 104th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 at the Vitkov Memorial in Prague.

The traditional ceremony was held in its full format today, after two years of being disrupted by the COVID-19 epidemic restrictions.

Zeman, who could not attend the ceremony last year as he was hospitalised, laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, followed by Fiala and Senate deputy chair Jitka Seitlova (KDU-CSL), who is temporarily fulfilling the duties of the Senate chair after the recent Senate elections, as well as parliamentary representatives, MP Jan Skopecek (ODS) and senator Pavel Fischer (independent), Defence Minister Jana Cernochova (ODS) and Military Chief of Staff Karel Rehka.

Zeman, who uses a wheelchair, greeted soldiers standing with the help of a stick, and listened to the national anthem supported by his security guards.

Unlike last year, the 20-minute ceremony was not impeded by fog. In sunny weather, two Gripen supersonic fighters, two L-159 aircraft, a Mi-24/35 combat helicopter and two Mi-171 transport helicopters flew above Prague.

Events to commemorate the creation of Czechoslovakia are also taking place in other towns across the Czech Republic. Zeman will also name new generals today, and will present state orders and medals at Prague Castle tonight.

Anti-government demonstrations are scheduled in the centre of Prague and Brno this afternoon, and some memorials and institutions are holding open days.

The Vitkov Memorial was established in 1929-1938 in honour of the Czechoslovak legionnaires, members of the voluntary units that contributed to the establishment of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 and fought the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. After the Communists seized power in 1948, the memorial was repurposed as a focus of the regime’s propaganda, and as a burial place of significant officials of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In 1953, the Mausoleum of Klement Gottwald, the first Czechoslovak communist president, was established there.

After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, those buried there were transferred to a cemetery. The memorial is now administered by the National Museum.

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