Liberation of Czechoslovakia
The situation convenient for the entry of the Red Army into Czechoslovakia had developed by early September 1944. The Soviet formations were first to enter Slovakia – a Germany’s puppet state created in 1939 after occupation of Czechia. Moscow and the London based Czechoslovak government-in-exile signed an agreement on May 8, 1944 specifying that after the liberation of any part of the country its administration would pass to the Czechoslovak government.
The rise of a guerilla movement in Slovakia led by the Slovak National Council started in the beginning of August 1944. The Czechoslovak government asked the USSR to provide the insurgents with any possible assistance. Although from the military point of view it was too early to start an advance into Slovakia, the Soviet High Command ordered the Red Army to move forward and link up with Slovak insurgents. However, the advance of the 4th Ukrainian Front was hampered by the mountainous terrain and a stiff German resistance.
The Soviet offensive was stopped in October 1944, and the Germans suppressed the uprising. Slovakia was occupied by the Wehrmacht. The Red Army resumed its advance into Czechoslovakia in early 1945. In order to liberate the country another four offensive operations were carried out.
The liberation of Czechoslovakia was completed during the Prague Offensive of May 6-11, 1945. The Red Army assisted the armed uprising of the Czech people in Prague and liberated the city from the German invaders. Meanwhile the western Czechoslovakia was liberated by the US troops. Among those who fought for the country’s independence and marched into Prague on May 9 were members of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps. It was formed in the Soviet Union in April 1944. The first Czechoslovak battalion was organized in 1942. It grew into a brigade by 1943.
The Red Army paid a heavy price for the independence of Czechoslovakia. It lost half a million people, of which 140,000 were killed.