Prague, Aug 18 (CTK) – A new exhibition about the brave women who served in the Czech and Czechoslovak militaries, documented by photos and texts, opened outside the general staff building in Prague yesterday.
The historians want to highlight the women and girls who fought on the eastern front and were active in the resistance movement and modern military veterans from the foreign missions of the Czech military.
“Yesterday’s exhibition somewhat differs from the previous ones that were mostly devoted to the Czech military tradition with a dominance of men,” chief of staff Josef Becvar said at the opening of the exhibition.
The first women served in the Czechoslovak military during World War Two. Before, this was impossible.
“It was only in 1942 in the Russian town of Buzuluk, where girls for the first time put on the military uniform,” Becvar said.
Although they were supposed to act primarily in the sphere of health and communication, they also underwent a training with weapons. Some of them served as snipers and anti-aircraft defence soldiers.
Some of them were parachuted to help the Slovak National Uprising in autumn 1944.
“After the war, some paratroopers admitted that they only overcame their fear of the descent and exhaustion in the marches in the mountains because they felt ashamed to show less courage and resilience than women,” authors of the exhibition said at one of the panels.
At the close of the war, there were hundreds of women in the Czechoslovak units, Jindrich Marek, from the Military History Institute, said.
Tens of women also served on the western front. However, Britain insisted that women must not be used on the frontline itself, he added.
Due to this, Czechoslovak women worked in the health and logistics units, Marek said.
Czechoslovak women also served in Yugoslav guerrilla units.
Some women were enlisted quite young. Vera Holubeva, who attended the opening ceremony, told journalists she had been recruited when she was 14 in the former Soviet Union.
The exhibition with the subtitle “often braver than men” also points out the heroic fighters of the resistance movement against the Nazi rule and the women who were sent to concentration camps.
It also deals with modern war veterans, some of whom served in such missions as that in Afghanistan.
At present, women account for 13 percent of Czech soldiers.
No unit is closed to women, general staff spokesman Jan Sulc said.
If they fulfil the relevant conditions, they can serve even in combat units, he added.