The Czech Republic and the Fine Art of Collaboration
by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch
The US military convoy will soon be passing through the Czech territory, from the Baltics and Poland, to its permanent base in Bavaria, Germany.
That is bad enough. The Czechs should not have allowed the convoy to pass. Provoking Russia and moving closer and closer to the fascist Empire is a shameless and cowardly act.
But they would not be Czechs, if they would not go that extra mile; if they would not take their collaboration with the present masters to an absolutely bizarre, ridiculous, and Kafkaesque extreme:
Several Czech groups are now using social media to organize in advance what is called ‘a grand welcome’ for the Americans. Plans include beer stands with cold Pilsner beer accompanied with loud cheers, as well as ‘expressions of solidarity’ with the GI’s and member states of NATO.
There are several planned initiatives, with the most vocal called “Welcoming of the American Army” (Vitani americke armady).
“Freedom Forum”, organized by a journalist named, Pavel Safr, claims:
“At the points through which the American convoy will be passing, and where there is a danger of shameful actions of pro-Russian extremists, posts will be erected. We call them “czechpoints” and they will be similar to the military checkpoints. There, Czech supporters of the US army will be gathering, supporting our allies.”
Pro-American and pro-NATO elements are sending warnings that those who dare to protest against the US military presence on Czech territory could face consequences, including physical attacks.
Is this some sick, pathetic ass kissing? Of course, but it did not fall from the sky.
Czechs have long history of grotesque collaboration. They are also known for outbursts of “delayed wrath” towards those whom they fatefully and excessively served in the past.
In modern history, the Czechs were the trusted and determined allies of Nazi Germany. Soldiers of the “3rd Reich” were enthusiastically welcomed by the Czech masses, waving Swastikas, in Prague and elsewhere. Czech workers, some of the most skilled in Europe, began producing weapons for German army right from the first days of the occupation. The Germans, in turn, left the Czech population alone, and even forced local banks to write off their housing loans.
There was virtually no resistance against Nazis during the WWII, and the assassination of Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, by Czech paratroopers in 1942 had to be planned and organized from London.
While the Germans were rounding up Czech Jews and deporting them to concentration camps, the Czech people were busy liquidating their Roma (Gypsy) citizens, with full German blessing, but little help. The Germans did not bother getting involved. They knew that the Czechs were racist and loyal to any master, and they trusted them with running their own Roma concentration/extermination camps, particularly that at the village of Lety.
Just a few days before the end of the war, when the victory of the Allies became imminent, the Czechs launched their ‘uprising’ and the Soviet army had to accelerate its push towards Prague. 150,000 Soviet lives were lost liberating the country.
After the war, the Czechs deported, literally kicked out, millions of minority Germans from the border region. Countless women were raped, houses were looted, people killed. The more shamelessly the Czechs collaborated with the Nazis, the more vindictive they were after the war!
Those eerie villages and towns, left empty after the German families were deported, were eventually ‘repopulated’ by Roma/Gypsies, who were forcefully brought from Eastern and Southern Europe (as there were not enough ‘Czech gypsies’ left after the war).
What a history! But even those unfortunate and tortured Gypsies, who managed to survive the WWII, or those who were later brought to the Czech lands and forced to settle down right on the Cold War frontier, were soon discriminated against brutally, humiliated, and forced to ‘assimilate’. The discrimination, in fact Czech-style apartheid, is practiced until now, all over the country.
At one point, there were even walls built around Czech Gypsy settlements – not unlike those now separating Jewish and Israeli settlements (the state of Israel and its racist policies are full heartedly supported and greatly admired in the Czech Republic). Most of the Gypsy kids are forced to attend ‘special schools’ for retarded children.
But back to those post-WWII days! After the war, the Communist Party came to power and things somehow improved. Many Czechs and Slovaks joined the new system enthusiastically, and Czechoslovakia, historically one of Europe’s powerhouses of industry and knowledge, embarked on an extremely exciting journey. It began supporting deprived nations all over the world, educating people, and demanding the end of colonialism. It gave scholarships to tens of thousands of students from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It built steel mills and sugar mills. For the first time in its history, Czechs abandoned their selfish essence and stood on the side of the oppressed.
The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic! It had a proud sound to it. It was suddenly respected and admired all over the world!
But was it all done ‘voluntarily’?
Before, and during 1968, during the so-called ‘Prague Spring’, or ‘socialism with human face’, the direction towards which the country marched began to be internally criticized.
The Soviet Union panicked, convinced that Czechoslovakia could leave its orbit in the foreseeable future. The Soviets, backed by other East European countries, invaded.
It was, arguably, the most bloodless occupation in human history, with only few casualties, mostly caused by accidents. But, it is argued; the enthusiasm of Czech and Slovak people was broken as the country felt humiliated, derailed and suddenly full of Soviet troops.
What is of course not mentioned in the Western propaganda (and in the present-days Czech propaganda) is that 1968 did not happen outside of a historical and political context. The Allies – the US, France, Soviet Union and the UK, decided that Czechoslovakia would belong to the Soviet orbit, at the end of the WWII. It was definitely not the Soviet Union alone, which made the decision.
The UK and US committed incomparably more brutal crimes to keep many countries in their own ‘sphere of influence’.
To prevent West Germany, France, Italy, Greece and other countries from electing the Communist Parties (and from leaving the Western orbit) after the WWII, the US and British intelligence agencies ‘employed’ countless Nazi cadres, who then began intimidating, murdering and torturing Left wing politicians and activists.
Those Nazi criminals were later allowed to leave, some with great booty of gold from Jewish victims in their bags. They were expedited to South America, particularly to Paraguay, Argentina and Chile, but also elsewhere. I spoke to several of them, two decades ago, in Asuncion. They were proud and open about what they had done.
If the US and UK failed to break the spine of the West European Left, the Communist parties would win the elections. Such a scenario would be unacceptable for both Washington and London. To prevent it, a bloodbath was administered. And then, of course, the most horrific oppression was saved for Greece and Turkey.
The terror used by the Western block countries against the Left was incomparably more horrific than the actions taken by the Soviet Union in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
At some point, it was Czechoslovakia, which provided political asylum to many West European dissidents, particularly those fleeing Greece.
But Western and now Czech propaganda have a very selective memory!
After 1968, many Czechs departed for the West. Several months after the invasion, the borders remained open, another ‘courtesy’ of the Soviet Union.
In occupied Czechoslovakia, there was absolutely none of the savagery that takes place regularly after the West occupies some territory or orchestrates a coup: death squads murdering opposition, mass rapes, beastly torture, disappearances…
But the Western propaganda went to work, almost immediately. 1968 became a symbol, a rallying cry, and an anti-Communist dogma.
Czech and Slovak population was bombarded, day and night, by elaborate and powerful brainwashing, coming from several dedicated radio stations like Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, and the BBC (Czech and Slovak desks). Propaganda flowed in German from the television stations broadcasting from Austria and West Germany.
“The more propaganda the West spread, the more they accused the Czech and Slovak state media of actually being the ones spreading lies”, explained, Milan Kohout, during my recent visit to Prague.A renowned performer and a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at the West Bohemian University in Pilsen, Mr. Kohout was a signatory of the ‘Charter 77’, the major dissident movement during the 70’s and 80’s, but he later turned around and attacked Western neoliberalism and imperialism.
“Actually, looking back, the Czech Communist media was very correct, in all that it wrote about Western imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism.”
Even after the 1968 occupations, Moscow allowed the standard of living in Czechoslovakia to remain substantially higher than that in the Soviet Union, something unthinkable in the countries colonized or occupied by the West.
Still, Czechs were angry. They dreamed about joining the West. Building an egalitarian, just world was simply not something that they fantasized about. Internationalism was an extremely foreign concept for Europeans, and Czechs were no exception.
As my uncle, a true Communist and engineer who worked on construction of heavy industry facilities in several ‘developing countries’ like Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, once told me: “We had some people in our teams, some Czechs who believed in social justice and internationalism, but most of them were there only for the money. Remember that in essence, Czechs are very racist and unpredictable individuals. In the Middle East, which I always loved so much, they were building industry, while they actually hated Arabs. Simultaneously, while hating them, they were pimping their own wives to the locals.”
Many Czechs not only hate the concept of the Soviet Union but they also hate the Russian people. A few years ago, I heard hate speeches against Russians even from one of the editors of “A2”, a progressive intellectual magazine.
Located in Asia and Europe, multicultural and constantly battered by the West, Russia is definitely not the ideal ‘colonizer’ for the nation obsessed with the superiority of the white race and the greatness of ‘European culture’.
Russians are seen as a ‘lower’, Asian nation, unfit to rule over a Western, European and therefore ‘civilized’ country, the notion so frankly expressed in the novel by Josef Skvorecky “The Cowards”.
After 1968, Russians soldiers did not mingle with the locals; they mainly stayed in the barracks. They did not harass or rape Czech women (unlike Czechs during the WWI, when their brutal ‘legions’ occupied huge part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, plundering, murdering and raping in the villages and towns all alone the railroad).
But despite their hatred, Czechs were still ready to do what they always do best: to collaborate.
Except for those few signatories of the above-mentioned ‘Charter-77’, there was hardly any opposition worth mentioning. And both Czechs and Slovaks kept flocking into all sorts of collaborative clubs, including the ‘Club of Czechoslovak – Soviet Friendship’.
Hundreds of thousands became snitches, denouncing each other to the STB – the secret police. They were spying on each other, as they were doing during the Austro-Hungarian Empire and German occupation; and now.
“Why do they actually hate Russians so muchI asked Milan.
“Because they were kissing their asses so intensively”, he replied.
“It is embarrassing how Czechs were behaving, when Soviets were in charge. Nobody asked them to go to such extremes. And since they are unable to hate and ridicule themselves, they now blame everything on the Russians and Communism.”
As I was strolling towards the Visehrad Castle, an Iranian man approached two young women pushing their baby carriages. He was well dressed, he was smiling, holding tourist map in his hands. “Could you please help me to find Visehrad?” he asked in passable English, very politely.
Both women waved him away, as if he would be a fly or an annoying mosquito.
They left him standing there, in the middle of the road, terribly hurt, tears in his eyes.
I ran towards him. I showed him how to get to the castle. He thanked me, then asked: “Why did they treat me like that?”
“Do you want pre-edited answer, or do you want to know the truth?”
“The truth”, he insisted.
“Because they are damned racists”, I replied. “Because they think that you are a Muslim, which in this society is something absolutely terrible. Because they think that you are Arab, and they see no distinction between Arabs and Iranians and Pakistanis. They despise everyone who has dark skin.”
“Are you Czech?” he asked.
“No”, I replied. “My mother is half Chinese, half Russian. But I had very bad luck spending a few years here, during my childhood. When I was a little boy, they used to beat me like a dog, after each class. For having ‘Asian mother’, for having ‘Asian ears’, for being born in Russia. As if I could choose where to be born.”
No doubt, my short biography made him feel better. We shook hands. I gave him a hug and suggested he sticks to well-lit streets, especially after dark. I ran back to my hotel, where I met a publisher of ‘Broken Books’, which recently translated and published my discussion with Noam Chomsky: “Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”.
Peter, the publisher, had much to add to the topic: “In Olomouc, the city where I live and teach, there is not one single Muslim there, but everyone is anti-Islamic. In this country, people know very little about the world, but they all have strong opinions. Students are brainwashed by Western propaganda, but at least they know something. But if you go to the countryside, it is total disaster. Like in my family… They never saw a Muslim, but they hate them, and they hate Islam.”
The Czechs waited to start their ‘Velvet Revolution’ until the very end. They made sure that there would be no risks. That is how it always is here. Then they flooded the streets of all major cities, ringing keys, demanding ‘freedom’. By then, everything was already over in the Soviet Union and in almost all countries of the Eastern block.
Washington and NATO fooled Gorbachev, and the imperfect and complex group of socialist countries collapsed, from the pressure, weight and deception coming from the West. Thanks to this group, fascism was defeated and colonialism smashed.
Western Europe and North America – the gang of countries that plundered the world for centuries, murdering hundreds of millions of innocent people on all continents – was shouting: “Victory of freedom and democracy. The Berlin Wall Fell!”
For the West, there was plenty to celebrate. The Eastern block – the last serious adversary, the deterrence to their total, dictatorial and monstrous control over the planet, was collapsing, destroyed by Western propaganda, by the dissident movements financed from Washington and London, and by Western-trained Mujahedeen in Afghanistan.
From now on, it was going to be one uninterrupted bloodbath, true fun for neo-colonialists, a party with no restrains and no opposition: in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Kashmir, Papua, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Ukraine; wherever the Empire was ready to plunder and to experiment on human beings.
In the following years, as a result of the collapse of the ‘Eastern block’, tens of millions died, victims of the unopposed Western terror.
The Czechs grabbed the opportunity! With each ring of their keys, the message was getting clearer and clearer: “To hell with the world and with that ridiculous aim for justice! We are back! We are Europeans! We want to be part of the Empire, right hands of the oppressors! Get us away from those lunatics who are dreaming about better world. We want even bigger houses and better cars, no matter who will pay for them. We want to embrace new masters, true masters of the world – the Empire!”
Soon after, tens of thousands of Western liberals flooded Prague. Sex was easily available, and beer was cheap. That was all that mattered. Prague became synonymous with countless one-night stands and with late night puking on the streets, after innumerable pints of beer.
After Velvet Revolution, the Czechs bent more than they ever did in the past, even more than during the rule of the Nazis. They began collaborating with full force with the Empire.
Czech politicians began attacking and ridiculing Cuba and China; they supported attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. They joined NATO and sent troops wherever the Empire decided to spread terror. They moved extremely close to Israel.
Czechoslovakia disintegrated. The industrial powerhouse that used to provide much of the developing world with the knowhow, while building factories and power plants, disappeared not long after so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’ in the shameful ‘Velvet Divorce’. Two states emerged – The Czech and Slovak Republics. The people were never consulted; it was all done behind their backs and done very quickly – an unconstitutional, undemocratic surgical strike of nationalist politicians.
And Vaclav Havel, the Czech President, the beloved symbol of the Western liberals, was too busy getting standing ovations in Washington, riding pushbikes with the religious bigot and former CIA agent, the Dalai Lama, glorifying ‘Western values’ and supporting US invasions and acts of terrorism. Originally from one of the richest families in Prague, Havel gained back in ‘restitutions’ his family’s countless estates and properties, literally forcing hundreds of people onto the street.
Oh those restitutions: Czech aristocrats and the Church stealing houses and flats from the poor, all over the country. Families of Czech businessmen and the bourgeoisie returning back and grabbing all they could: a plunder and yes, a true counter-revolution!
Then came ‘lustration laws’, stating that those who collaborated during the Soviet era cannot hold government jobs. This, in the height of Czech collaboration with the Empire; with the fascist West! What a shame, Czech Republic – what an embarrassment!
While purging Communists, the new masters of the land began selling Czech industry, which was once one of the mightiest on Earth. Western companies began buying everything – from nuclear reactor factories, to electric locomotive plants – in order to destroy it, to get rid of the competition. Siemens degraded locomotive production to the building of carriages. LET stopped making civil aircraft, and Volkswagen bought the huge Skoda car factory. The country’s industry was soon reduced to a maquilladora level.
The huge privatization campaign was quick and lacking any transparency, murky. The goal was clear – to create a new bourgeoisie, as quickly as possible, at the expense of Czech people, and to redistribute wealth – from socialist ownership to the ownership of private individuals.
Imagine this: the whole nation was told, for decades, that it is building a socialist fatherland, which belongs to all. Then, in just a few months, the factories, farms, other companies, fell to the hands of new capitalists (who became rich over night, and who did nothing to gain extra privileges), and then were often sold to foreigners.
Prague was sold and ravished too. Once one of the most beautiful and cultural cities on Earth, Prague now resembles some tourist resorts like Pattaya, of course in a glorious architectural gothic and baroque setting.
Prague’s streets are lined with horribly kitschy crystal stores, with pathetic souvenir stalls, with several ‘museums of torture’ (oh, Europeans love to watch torture!). The oldest opera house in the city, the one that premiered Mozart’s Don Giovanni, is now showing a British pop play. World famous Laterna Magica lost all artistic aspirations and converted itself into a tourist trap. And the Museum of Jan Saudek, who was one of the greatest European photographers, closed down, and where it stood, a new shiny Thai massage parlor has opened.
Almost no one lives in the old city, now. Restitutions kicked out most of the families and individuals. Those few who stayed cannot afford astronomic prices.
I stopped an old lady, near the Old City Square.
“Yes, I still live here”, she explained. “But it is a miracle. I was allowed to stay in my old apartment. It is sort of charity. But I have no rights and the new owner can kick me out any moment. Almost nobody lives here, anymore. There are no supermarkets here, no basic services. It is all geared to tourists and companies. I travel by metro to get to a food store.”
What used to be a pride of socialist Prague – its metro, the Palace of Culture, the museums, theatres, art cinemas – is all deteriorating, covered by graffiti, abandoned, even closed down.
To speak Czech means to get terrible service. I tried in my hotel but was ignored, even humiliated. I switched to English and got room upgrade and loving smiles. The same happens in fascist Indonesia, a client state of the West. I speak the language, but if I want to be treated with respect, I have to use English.
Over all this, Vaclav Havel presides. His huge poster/portrait is hanging from the facade of the National Museum. It reads “Havel Forever”. After his death, the arch Czech collaborator was elevated to sainthood.
Monika Horeni, editor of the Left Wing Czech daily Haló noviny, summarized interaction of the Czechs with the Empire:
“During the so-called Velvet Revolution, ex-President Václav Havel, darling of the American politicians, was promising that both military alliances – Warsaw Pact and NATO – will cease to exist.
He was promising the world without arm races and wars – absolute utopian dream. Our citizens believed him. Of course, after he and his people grabbed power, his promises diminished – suddenly it was enough to destroy Warsaw Pact. NATO stayed, and Czech Republic actually joined it, in March 1999, and politicians did not even bother to consult its citizens.”
Vaclav Havel and others laid foundations for collaboration of Czech Republic with the US. Few days after entering NATO, CR participated in deplorable bombing of fellow Slavic country – Yugoslavia. It allowed NATO planes to use its airspace. I feel shame that my country belongs to the pact led by the United States – country that is responsible for increase of tensions in the world, for provoking other nations, for invasions, for spreading death all over the world, and now for creating the Islamic State/ISIS. Only the Communist Party openly declared that it demands that Czech Republic leaves NATO.
I see it this way: those who are defending Czech membership and activities in NATO are co-responsible for spreading the conflicts in the world. Present expression of collaboration is that the entire Czech government – all ministers from the right-wing and from the Social Democratic Party – agreed with the provocative passing of the US military column through Czech Republic, which will take place between 29 March and 1 April.
Unfortunately, part of Czech public collaborates as well.
Nobody with his or her sane mind can understand why is column not moving through the railways – why is it going to provoke by its presence in our cities. It is simply a show of force – exactly as the US representatives described it.
For me it is essential how many foreign bases have the US outside its territory – several hundreds. And Russians: only 2 or 3. It is therefore clear who is the global aggressor!”
Walking through Prague, I felt deeply depressed. I saw beggars kneeling in front of Czech police.
I heard stories about homeless people being deported to the outskirts of the city.
I felt a generally bad mood, a resignation, an acute lack of optimism, wherever I went.
The country was robbed, but people were lining up to applaud the thieves.
“This must be the only country on earth where students are demanding introduction of tuition fees”; my publisher explained to me.
Why has this place been so messed up? Where did such cynicism, such lack of pride come? I never understood.
Many years ago, during the Yugoslav War, I returned to Czech Republic, just for a few months. Then, once again, the country mentally destroyed me.
I ended up drinking, night after night, with the then Argentinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, the great novelist and thinker, Abel Pose. We hit hard on the embassy’s wine reserves, often lying down on a thick carpet, discussing Kafka, Hasek and Western imperialism and colonialism.
Abel was some 30 years older than I, and in terrible pain: he had just lost his beloved son. I lost a lot, too.
Then, he told me the story he was then writing – a story, which was eventually published as a book – Los Cuadernos de Praga:
As Argentinian Ambassador, he succeeded in convincing the Czech secret service to open files on his great compatriot – Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Between his failed campaign in Congo and the final and fatal fight in Bolivia, “Che” spent several months in Czechoslovakia. Sick, his body full of parasites, he was treated by Czech doctors, in those years, some of the best on Earth. But the Czech security services could not figure out how to perceive this great revolutionary. They were ‘protecting’ him and spying on him at the same time. Was he a friend or a foe? They considered him to be both.
I was shocked. Pose was shocked, too.
Czechs collaborated, pretended to be the greatest revolutionaries and supporters of the liberation struggles worldwide. But deep inside, they felt no attachments; they had no allegiances.
“I felt betrayed”, said Pose. “’Che’ came here. He trusted them, with all his big heart. But they can never be trusted.”
I asked Milan Kohout, great performer, former friend of Vaclav Havel, and his fellow dissident, to stage a short protest play at the outrageous “Memorial to the victims of Communism” in Prague. Before we went, I renamed the place to “The Monument to Czech Collaboration with Western Imperialism”.
The monument is located only two minutes walk from the Palace of Justice. There are some stones in front of the palace. “This used to be a Monument to Soviet soldiers who died, liberating Prague from the Nazis, in 1945”, explained Milan. “There used to be old Soviet tank. After the Velvet Revolution, the monument was desecrated – the tank was repainted to pink color. It was done officially. Then, few years later, the tank was taken away. Now, as you can see, there is nothing. ‘Only’ 150.000 Soviet people died, liberating Prague. Not worth mentioning, right?”
We move to the “Memorial to the Victims of Communism”. It is quite a bizarre place, and piece of very bad art: a decomposing naked man, with semi-erect penis. And right behind the monument, there is a wall consisting of barbed wire. It is not there for any symbolic reason, just to protect some public property.
Even according to this propaganda venue, a grand total of 248 people were killed during the entire long period of Czech Communism. To compare it to some Western onslaughts that got away with no monuments at all (in the West): 2-3 million killed during the anti-Communist coup in Indonesia, 8 million in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and some 8 million in Indochina.
Milan began performing, by first stuffing the place with several symbols of the Western consumerism – empty cigarette boxes, coffee cartons and other junk.
We managed to provoke both shouts from supporters and from protesters.
Afterwards we felt better, just marginally better.
But still, the US convoy was just about to enter Czech Republic.
And the country was hanging in a vacuum, aimlessly, with no goal and no purpose, spreading toxic propaganda and lies.
And I felt suddenly terribly sad, because it was not only bitterness that I felt towards this land, not only bitterness and disgust… I felt many other things… But this country and I suddenly stood facing each other, at two sides of the barricade, ready for an inevitable showdown.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.