The History of Czechoslovakia: The history behind the self-determined split of the federal state of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia

World War II (1939-1945)

Beneš and other Czechoslovak exiles in London organized a Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile and negotiated to obtain international recognition for the government and a renunciation of the Munich Agreement. The government was recognized by the government of the United Kingdom with the approval of Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax on 18 July 1940. In July and December 1941, the Soviet Union[22] and United States also recognized the exiled government, respectively.

On 8 May 1944, Beneš signed an agreement with Soviet leaders stipulating that Czechoslovak territory liberated by Soviet armies would be placed under Czechoslovak civilian control.

From 21 September 1944, Czechoslovakia was liberated by the Soviet troops of the Red Army, supported by Czech and Slovak resistance, from the east to the west; only southwestern Bohemia was liberated by other Allied troops (i.e., the U.S. Army) from the west. In May 1945, American forces liberated the city of Plzeň. A civilian uprising against the Nazi garrison took place in Prague in May 1945. The resistance was assisted by the heavily armed Russian Liberation Army, a force composed of Soviet POWs organised by the Germans who now turned against them.

The main brutality suffered in the lands of the pre-war Czechoslovakia came as an immediate result of the German occupation in the Protectorate, the widespread persecution of Jews, and, after the Slovak National Uprising in August 1944, repression in Slovakia.

In spite of the oppressiveness of the government of the German Protectorate, Czechoslovakia did not suffer the degree of population loss that was witnessed during World War II in countries such as Poland and the Soviet Union, and it avoided systematic destruction of its infrastructure. Bratislava was taken from the Germans on 4 April 1945, and Prague on 9 May 1945 by Soviet troops. Both Soviet and Allied troops were withdrawn in the same year.

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