Czech celebration of Veterans' Day featured honor guard in SS uniform and speech calling for opponents of President to hang themselves
News server Lidovky.cz reports that a commemorative event on Veterans' Day, 11 November, was held by the Club of Military History in the Czech town of Rakovník and was marked by two controversial incidents. Those who attended the reverent gathering were outraged by the presence of a man wearing a Nazi uniform of the SS and serving as an honor guard next to the memorial to the Czechoslovak pilots from Rakovník who served in the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom during the Second World War.
The second outrageous incident was the inappropriately politicized speech given by the chair of the Club of Military History, Jiří Svoboda, expressing adoration for Czech President Miloš Zeman. Svoboda said those opposed to the President should either leave the republic or hang themselves.
The Czech Defense Ministry has distanced itself from the event and considers it to have been undignified. "We condemn the participation of a man in an SS uniform as and aboslutely undesirable, undignified way to participate in Veterans' Day," Vlastimila Cyprisová of the Communications Department of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic wrote to Lidovky.cz.
The Mayor of Rakovník and the town council have also distanced themselves from the commemoration. Those who attended the event have also made their dissatisfaction known.
"I protest! This is the second year in a row in Rakovník that an honor guard is standing on the square, by the memorial to the pilots from Rakovník, wearing the uniform of an SS officer and nobody is bothered by it.... It's not unusual to pay tribute to veterans at their cenotaphs or tombs, except that on this occasion the Nazis, specifically the SS, were standing as honor guards (even if only in an SS military uniform), which to me is unacceptable and unimaginable - and yet it is happening, at least in Rakovník," Antonín Nešpor, the son of Anna Nešporová, née Horáková, who survived the destruction of Lidice and the Ravensbrück concentration camp, posted to his Facebook profile.
"I would like to forestall any inappropriate remarks from being posted here claiming that the 'SS were people too', and I would like to recall that their own belief was that they were mainly superior beings who decided the fates of our war heros - and not just of ours. Such persons do not deserve to be presented at major Czechoslovak or international anniversaries. We have already had our experience with the SS, although today that experience may just be what we we have inherited from the previous generation. For example, SS officer Boehme stole my sister Věnuška from me when she was barely six weeks old and gave my Mom his 'word of honor of a German officer' that her baby would be returned to her after she was questioned. She was never returned! Therefore, I protest against the presentation of Nazi SS symbols anytime and anywhere, especially on those occasions when we remember our war heroes. Those men in SS uniform in Rakovník mock those listed on the memorial plaque," Nešpor wrote in indignation.
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