Parade of the Armored Brigade

From the parade of the Independent Czechoslovak Armored Brigade

In 1939 Germany occupied the rest of the Czech territory and proclaimed the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Slovakia was turned into Slovak State and Carpathian Russia with one part of Slovakia was occupied by Hungary.

Czechoslovak soldiers resisted the occupants both at home and abroad. Already at the turn of March and April 1939 Czechoslovak officers founded a military organization called National Defense. The desire to reestablish independence resulted in many Czechoslovaks moving abroad, where Czechoslovak military units were being set up.

Most definitely these were no hollow promises of a ceremonial declaration. Czechoslovak soldiers were scattered in all significant battlefields of the Second World War. Military bodies of varied strength fought in Poland, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, North Africa and in the Far East. Also deserters, who for various reasons didn’t appear in Czechoslovak units, usually entered allied armies or joined work in the military industry. A lot of Czechs and Slovaks from compatriotic areas came to fight in Czechoslovak battalions.

The foundation of Czechoslovak military units and their operation had a great significance for the Czechoslovak resistance movement both at home and abroad. In public they demonstrated their disapproval of the breakup of Czechoslovakia and of Nazi occupation, and they became a symbol of support to the Czechoslovak resistance authorities abroad. By their gradual incorporation into war operations of the allied armies they contributed, within their limits, to the military defeat of Hitler’s Germany. Both the political and military aspect of the Czechoslovak units’ activities abroad were seen as an encouraging element to the resistance movement in occupied areas at home.