“For me, as a kid, it was not a problem to take home the U.S. soldiers. The first I took home was Sergeant Moon. Such a beautiful name – the moon. And I remember that he would lie in the bathtub for two hours. These were heated by coal back in the old days. He said ‘all the time in the war, this is exactly what I was dreaming about. I haven’t had that for ages. I’d love to fall asleep here’.”
“Before May 6, it was a period of transports. From the east came day and night columns of German civilian refugees, soldiers, military equipment, and they went from Táborka to Nový most and from there to Přemyslova Street and via Pražská Street to Nová hospoda, where there is turn to Lnáře, Blatný and Strakonice, so it was constantly horses, military equipment. Whatever you could use for transportation was used.”
“The first time I saw American soldiers was when they arrived with Sherman tanks in Pražská Street. They were smiling and chewing gum and they were happily tossing chewing gum, cigarettes and canned meet to the crowd around the tanks.”
“I respect both armies. I see the army with the eyes of the simple soldier, not the eyes of those who are on top and in charge. That's why I resented many decisions that Eisenhower had made, because to him it was Japan, the assistance to the Soviet Union and so on. That's policy. But the common soldier is risking his own life.”
“These are the most valuable pictures that I saved ... because the father of a classmate from high school in Písek was taking these. He was a photographer. And the whole time during the revolution and the liberation, he would run around town and take pictures, one after the other.”
I see the army through the eyes of the soldier, not the eyes of the commander
Richard Praus originates in Písek, where, at the age of thirteen, in 1945, he witnessed the end of World War II. He still remembers his first-hand meeting with U.S. and later Russian soldiers, who met on the demarcation line running through Písek at that time. His father was the director of the forestry school and after the war he left to Ústí nad Labem together with his family and the adolescent Richard. Richard passed his military service in a chemical company in Prague, garrisoned in the buildings of the Břevnov Monastery. He moved to Prague permanently in 1964 and worked for the national company “Potrubí” (pipeline). After the revolution of 1989, he became personally engaged in correcting the image of the past and initiated the creation of several memorials in Písek. These memorials commemorate the contribution of the U.S. Army to the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945. He managed to save a unique collection of photographs from the days of the liberation. The author of these is a photographer from Písek, Langhans. Praus’s engagement gradually transformed into the foundation of the civic association “Buddies”, which is involved in similar activities.