May 5th is the 75th anniversary of the Prague Uprising that saw Czechs engage their German occupiers in a deadly battle, in an attempt to take back their city during the final days of the Second World War.
Czech police officers burst into the radio station at Vinohradská Street and battled with the SS soldiers who were already occupying the building.
At 12:33 Prague radio called on all Czechs to take up arms in the organized resistance: it was the beginning of five days of fierce fighting that would see thousands lose their lives.
With the sound of combat as a backdrop, the announcer asked for public support with the following message: “Calling all Czechs. Come to our help at once. Come and defend Czech Radio. The SS are murdering Czech people here. Come and help us. You can still get through the Balbínova Street entrance…”
Resistance fighters in other parts of the city took over the Gestapo and SiPo headquarters. Civilians finally removed the hated German signs and began to attack and disarm the Germans. Barricades were built in the streets.
Antonin Sum, a teenager at the time, was involved in the resistance. “The uprising started in Prague,” he said. “You could see in the streets, as I saw myself, people with guns, which was absolutely impossible before. They were guns that had been hidden away somewhere underground in caves.… It was just the start, but nobody knew what was practically going on.”
In scenes reminiscent of European uprisings in the 19th century, cobblestones were torn from the streets to form the foundations of barricades. Carts, vehicles, and trolleys were overturned to block key intersections, and snipers took to the rooftops overlooking choke points.
By morning, more than 1,600 barricades had been erected.
Tomorrow, May 6th, we will cover the second day of the Prague Uprising.