Prague under Nazi Occupation: The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia

Prague under Nazi Occupation: The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia

Protectorate Tour 1Prague’s experience under Nazi domination was unique in Central Europe. Czechoslovakia was one of the few territories in Europe that was swept up into the Third Reich without any major battles. Six months after Czechoslovakia’s border regions known as the Sudetenland were annexed to the Third Reich, German forces marched relatively unopposed into Prague and established it as the capital city of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, a pseudo-independent state under direct control of the Hitler regime. This was nearly six months before the German invasion of Poland that launched World War II. For the duration of the war, Prague and the surrounding territories remained subject to Nazi rule until their liberation by the combined efforts of allied forces and local resistance groups in the spring of 1945.Protectorate Tour 2Since the city did not see any major military conflict until the last few months of World War II, it managed to escape the devastation that ravaged every other city of its size in Central Europe. Nevertheless, although most of the cities architectural gems remained intact after the war, the population of the city and the surrounding territories suffered terrible human tragedy and the scars of the period remain in the Czech psyche and in the streets of Prague. As the recent controversial reality show “Dovolená v Protektorátu” (Holiday in the Protectorate) has demonstrated, the nation continues to be fascinated with this period– and that it is still working through the repercussions of this dark episode from its history. This three-hour tour traces the history of the Protectorate, from sites of Nazi oppression and local collaboration to places of heroic resistance and triumphant liberation.

Protectorate Tour 3The tour begins at one of the central theaters of the Protectorate, on Wenceslaus Square. Here you will learn about Czechoslovak society prior to the invasion of German troops, the steps leading up to the establishment of the Protectorate, and the first days of the Nazi occupation. [We will also discuss the cultural history of the German population in Bohemia and Moravia and examine how the Nazis built upon this tradition as a means of legitimizing the present regime.] Then we will move on to consider the more oppressive measures that Hitler’s occupational forces used to terrorize and subdue the local population. We will visit the former Gestapo headquarters, locations where informers and collaborators aided the Nazis, and the former residences of those deported to concentration camps.

From here we will shift our focus to Reinhard Heydrich, one of the cruelest members of the Hitler gang, who assumed the most powerful position in the Protectorate in the fall of 1941 only to be assassinated by Czech paratroopers several months later – the highest ranking Nazi target successfully killed by resistance forces anywhere in Europe. We will visit the church where these paratroopers made their last stand against German forces.

Protectorate Tour 4While Nazi reprisals for Heydrich terrorized the general population and Jewish deportations reached peak levels, the tide of war had turned against the Reich by 1942. At this point in the tour, we pass by several locations that were destroyed by Allied bomb attacks and discuss some of the lasting consequences of the Holocaust on the fabric of Prague life before ending at the Old Town Square, where we learn about the heroic uprising of local resistance fighters and the arrival of Allied forces in the city. The tour concludes with a brief consideration of the consequences of the war for Czechoslovakia, [including the expulsion of its German inhabitants and the foundation for the Communist takeover in the late 1940s].

Kevin JohnsonKevin Johnson Born and raised in small towns throughout the US Midwest, Kevin has been infatuated with European culture and history since his teens. He initially fell in love with Germany, where he spent his first months abroad in the summer of 1990 as the Berlin Wall was still crumbling down. He first visited Prague, chasing after traces of Kafka and Mozart, in the summer of 1992, when it was still the capital of Czechoslovakia. He received his BA in German and Anthropology from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1996. But, Prague never ceased to be a draw and in the late 1990s he plunged into active study of Czech language, history, and culture. After several years of intensive Czech language study and coursework in German literature and culture, Kevin earned a Ph.D. in Germanics from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2012 with a dissertation on German, Austrian, and Czech cinema in the 1930s and 40s. Kevin has published widely on topics related to German and Czech cinema and has worked as a translator form both German and Czech to English. He is currently working on an article about Czech actresses in German cinema and an essay about Czech modernist director Gustav Machatý. He has lectured at the Charles University and is currently teaching at the CIEE Prague Study Center and at Anglo-American University. Prague has been an on again-off again home since 2001 and he never ceases to be amazed by new discoveries in the city. When he gets the time, he enjoys listening to old vinyl records, playing the guitar or accordion, and reading sci-fi novels.
Vadim ErentVadim Erent Born in St. Petersburg, Vadim immigrated to the USA at 13. He did graduate work in Slavic Studies at the University of Chicago, then spent a decade travelling through the United States as an interpreter for the US State Department. He has lived in Prague since 2003. An art critic and literary historian, he contributes articles to Literaria Pragensia Books, the affiliated press of the Philosophy Faculty of Charles University. Vadim’s photography has been featured in Vlak Magazine, Grasp Magazine, The Humanities Review and Streetnotes. He is editing a book of essays on Serbian filmmaker Dusan Makavejev, to be published by Literaria Pragensia Books in Fall 2015. After years of giving tours of Prague to friends and family, he founded Insight Cities to offer in-depth experiences to a wider group of visitors. Vadim is married to Insight Cities co-founder Bonita Rhoads. They are the parents of a little Pražačka, Lucy, born in Prague in 2008.
Jan richterJan Richter Since 2007, Jan has been a producer and journalist for the leading news radio station in the Czech Republic, Radio Prague (the Czech equivalent of the USA's NPR). In addition to hosting a regular 30 minute show on current national affairs, he also provides analysis and reporting for the English language service of the station on topics ranging from contemporary Czech culture and business to Czech history. Jan took his MA in History from Masaryk University in Brno. Fluent in Spanish (as well as English), Jan spent two years teaching in Latin America, then became the first translator of Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries into Czech. Jan's fascination with the turmoil of the twentieth century also led him to spend six years (2001-2007) as a historian and curator for the Regional Museum in the Moravian town of Mikulov, where he prepared exhibitions on Czech Jewish history, World War II history and post World War II development. Outside his busy work schedule, Jan always appreciates a good night out with taroky, a rapidly disappearing Moravian card game. For visitors interested in the war years, the communist and post-communist periods in Prague, Jan is your guide.

 

Insight Cities arranges this tour only for private groups with advance notice, at present. Thanks for emailing us at [email protected].

Private Walk (1-6 People) $295
Private Walk (7-10 People) $350

 

Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

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