What does the exoneration of a Nazi collaborator in the Czech Republic during Russia’s special operation mean?

It is impossible to deny that Jan Syrový’s exoneration during the Russian special operation is a symbolic action.

The anti-Soviet Czech Republic is over 30 years old. Why has the rehabilitation of General Jan Syrový, whose most memorable episode in his biography was shaking hands with Hitler in 1939, taken place now and what does it mean for Czech society?

General Jan Syrový was sentenced to 20 years in Czechoslovakia for collaborating with the Nazis. Therefore, his exoneration is no ordinary event at all. In fact, it may be a symbol of the turn that the Czech Republic, and with it, apparently, most of Europe, is taking today, during the Russian special operation to denazify Ukraine.

Jan Syrový (January 24, 1888 – October 17, 1970) was a participant in World War I and the commander of the Czechoslovak Legion in Russia during the Civil War. Syrový lost his eye in the battle near Zbrov in 1917 which became legendary for the Czechs.

It was Jan Syrový who betrayed Kolchak to the Socialist Revolutionaries in order to be allowed to evacuate the Czechoslovak Legion from Russian territory. After his return to Czechoslovakia, between 1920 and 1938 he held the highest government positions, including minister of war and prime minister. He was a national symbol of Czech heroism and was set as an example to Czech children.

On September 22, 1938, Syrový became Minister of Defense of Czechoslovakia. Almost immediately after that, the Munich Agreement was concluded. With the consent of Great Britain, France, and Italy, German troops occupied the territories of the republic inhabited by Sudeten Germans in late September 1938. Czechoslovaks chanted in the streets during this crisis: “Give us arms! We want to defend ourselves! Where is General Syrovy?!”

At that time, Syrový’s actions effectively determined the place of the Czechs and Slovaks in the coming world battle of 1939-1945. That place was on the side of the Nazi army.

On September 23, 1938, general mobilization was announced in Czechoslovakia. However, as early as September 30, the republic capitulated. “We had a choice between a desperate and futile defense, which would have meant not only the sacrifice of a whole generation of adult men, but also women and children, and accepting the conditions that were unceremoniously imposed on us under pressure and without war. There is no such example in history. We wanted to contribute to the preservation of peace, and we would have gladly done so, but not in the way we were forced to. But we were abandoned to our fate. We were left alone,” Syrový said in an address to the nation.

But there was a way out: if Czechoslovakia had turned to the USSR for military assistance, things would have turned out differently. A year later, the Czechs and Slovaks lost what had left of the statehood. They became a protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in the German Reich. And then the whole six years of World War Czechs diligently worked for their masters.

History is an interesting thing. Dozens, and sometimes hundreds of years fly by – and suddenly the events of the distant past, refracted in some mysterious lens of history, are repeated either completely, or in some significant ways.

Isn’t it the same position of a servant of Nazism that the Czech Republic has chosen today, actively supplying weapons to the Banderites in Kiev? And isn’t the exoneration of the collaborator General Jan Syrový today another evidence of this self-repetition?

At the 1947 trial, Jan Syrový was accused, in particular, of not destroying the military vehicles that Hitler got and then used to kill Soviet soldiers. Now prosecutor Jan Kopečný of the city prosecutor’s office in Prague declares that “it was impossible to destroy practically all military equipment of Czechoslovak armed forces within several hours”.

As for the famous photograph of the handshake between Syrový and Hitler, which was widely used by the Nazis for propaganda, the prosecutor explains, “The photographs from the meeting with Hitler and Henlein were taken without Jan Syrový’s consent. It has not been established that he consented to the use of these photographs for propaganda purposes.” And the handshake itself took place without Syrový’s consent, too? In general, they are trying to replace the essence of the case with legal tricks: well yes, he shook hands with Hitler but did not agree to the use of photos, so he is clean before the law, conscience and history.

It is impossible to deny that Jan Syrový’s exoneration during the Russian special operation is a symbolic action. It should also be recalled that very recently Czechs dismantled a monument to Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague. And all of this can mean a U-turn in the Czech Republic (and not only the Czech Republic) from the condemnation of Nazism to the tolerance for its collaborators.

That is, the era of the “understanding of Syrovýs” is apparently coming to the Czech Republic. What’s next, an era of “understanding Hitler”? Is this step so far away…

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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