Pilsen is setting up the Liberation Festival Pilsen. The events connected with the end of the Second World War and the liberation of Western Bohemia by the American army will be commemorated on May 5-8, 2022 by a military-historical and cultural program. The city will experience the exceptional atmosphere of the freedom celebrations for the 33rd time this year. After the past two years of the online broadcasts due to the covid pandemic, this year’s celebrations will take place again in the traditional form. Some American and Belgian veterans who took part in the liberation of Western Bohemia in May 1945 should be present.
“I am glad that after two years marked by a pandemic and the related restrictions, we will return to the celebrations the people of Pilsen are used to. The program of the Liberation Festival Pilsen will again offer, for instance, the popular Convoy of Liberty of the vintage military vehicles along Klatovská třída and much more. Especially at this time, it is important to remember the freedom, “said the mayor of Pilsen Pavel Šindelář. He also sent a personal invitation letter to American and Belgian veterans who liberated Pilsen in 1945. Personal participation has already been provisionally confirmed by several of them. The stories of the veterans have become the inspiration for Saturday evening’s program directed by Michal Caban in Republic Square.
“The Liberation Festival Pilsen is one of the largest celebrations of liberation in Europe. They are a regular reminder of all those who fought and fell for our freedom. Therefore, after two years, we are looking forward to the largest possible number of visitors from Pilsen, the Czech Republic and abroad, “said the Pilsen councilor of Pilsen Veronika Jilichová Nová, who is in charge of the Freedom Celebrations.
Military-historical program in the orchard circuit
Part of the military-historical program is being moved to the park circuit this year due to the ongoing revitalization of the park behind the Plzeň Plaza Shopping mall. In Šafařík and Křižík’s orchards, including Proluka, the Tommy & Yankee Military History Club and the 16th Armored Division’s Military History Club will present the life of American soldiers as close as possible through the so-called living history, with military quarters for both the team and headquarters, military police station or officers’ quarters. There will be heavy and light armored vehicles, including a fully mobile medium tank Sherman M4A4 and reconnaissance cars Ford M8, halftracks or heavy truck Diamond.
There is also a competition for families with children, trail connecting the individual locations of the Liberation Festival Pilsen on Saturday, May 7.
The Combined detachment representing the legacy of the Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade with foreign participants from the Netherlands, England and Slovakia will be presented in the new U Ježíška locality. For the first time, visitors will see the renovated Austin K2 / Y ambulance. It was this type of ambulance that was still driven by Princess Elizabeth at the time of the war. The RAF and WAAF camp will also have its background at the locality, with the nearby presented 1: 1 replica of the Spitfire fighter in the marking of the 312th Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron RAF (replica provided by the Czech Spitfire Club, Aviation History Association), and the legend of Otto Smik, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year in January.
Czech Army in Lobzy
The Army shooting range in Lobzy will include a presentation of the Air and Ground Forces and special forces of the Army of the Czech Republic, including the military police, and a demonstration of MUSADO self-defense training. “After a few years, we have again prepared demonstrations of various types of combat equipment, airspace reconnaissance, logistics and other capabilities. The complex will be open to visitors on Friday 6 May in the afternoon and on Saturday 7 May (all day). A number of vehicles will then join the Convoy of Liberty ’on Sunday, May 8,” said Colonel Milan Sklenář, Director of the Pilsen Regional Military Command. He added that based on current international situation development and the fulfillment of the tasks of the Army of the Czech Republic, certain changes may occur in the program.
Commemorative acts and Convoy of Liberty
The commemoration will take place on Thursday, May 5 and Friday, May 6, with the highlight at the “Thank you, America!” monument. The popular Convoy of Liberty with over two hundred military-historical vehicles and the Army of the Czech Republic is scheduled for Sunday morning. It will be accompanied by a flight past of period aircrafts. One of them will be the Hawker Hurricane Mk. IV in daily color camouflage of Karel Miloslav Kuttelwascher, air ace of the British Royal Air Force and the most successful Czech pilot of the RAF, the only Czechoslovak two-time holder of the British Cross of Merit. It will fly over Pilsen for the first time.
Cultural program and special evening multimedia performance Thank you, boys!
The cultural program in the Republic Square will be opened by Gustav Brom’s radio Big Band with Dan Bárta. In the following days, for example, Boogie Boys, the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra with The Best of America program, Rudolf Křesťan & Druhá Trava, Samson and his band, Taxmeni or the folk- and folk-rock group Epydemye will play in here. Part of the folk and country music program will be presented in front of the Patton Memorial Pilsen Museum. The evening multimedia performance Thank you, boys! directed by Michal Caban, will take place in the Republic Square on Saturday, May 7 from 8 pm and will be dedicated to the soldiers – heroes who fought and are currently fighting for freedom again.