May 6, 1945: When the Germans Retook the Main Radio Station in Prague

In Prague, May 6 was a day of crisis. The Germans retook the main radio station, but Czech partisans continued broadcasting from another base.

About half the city was occupied by the resistance, and his scattered units needed time to concentrate.

Barricades and snipers made treks to assembly points hazardous affairs, but the Germans were able to gather units close to the radio station.

Reinforced with the SS units, the Germans struck at the radio station. As resistance fighters tried to stem the tide of infantry, assault guns, and tanks, a new voice came over the airwaves begging for help from the Allies.

“Prague is in great danger! The Germans are attacking with tanks and planes. We are calling urgently our allies to help. Send tanks and aircraft immediately. Help us defend Prague. At present, we are broadcasting from the radio station. Outside, there is a battle raging.”

The voice belonged to William Grieg, a Scottish POW who had escaped from the Germans. Grieg found himself in the middle of the uprising and was asked by the Czechs to make the appeal. With fighting erupting all around him, Grieg calmly sat in front of the microphone and sent out the urgent request.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Russian Liberation Army Andrey Vlasov received a request from the commander of the first ROA division, General Sergei Bunyachenko, for permission to turn his weapons against the Nazi SS forces and aid Czech resistance fighters in the Prague uprising.

Vlasov at first disapproved, then reluctantly allowed Bunyachenko to proceed. Some historians maintain it was the bitterness of the ROA against the Germans which caused them to switch sides once again, while other historians believe the sole purpose of this action was to win favor from the western Allies and possibly even the Soviet side, in the light of the nearly completed military annihilation of the German Reich.

The Czechs fought bravely, but the Germans were too strong. They recaptured the radio station, but Czech engineers had already removed enough equipment to set up another broadcasting center in a safer part of the city.

Grieg was called back into action later during the uprising to ask for an Allied airstrike against a German armored column that was advancing on the city. Unlike his first appeal, that request was answered and the German column was decimated.

Photo: Pavel Žáček
Photo: Pavel Žáček
Photo: Pavel Žáček
Photo: Pavel Žáček
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