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Exhibition of the 100th Anniversary of Establishing Czechoslovak Legions Opened

Ceremonial opening of the exhibition took place on Tuesday in the European Parliament building. The aim of the exhibition is to remember the bravery of today often neglected legions. The vice-President of the EU Parliament, Oldřich Vlasák opened the exhibition. The opening ceremony hosted many designated guests including the ambassador of the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the Council of Europe, Tomáš Boček.

In his speech Boček referred to the hardship of Czechoslovak Legions, who fought in foreign legions in France, Italy and Russia for establishing of an independent Czechoslovak state. He also mentioned his great-grandfather who himself was a legionary: “Since my early childhood, I personally have always had a great respect to the word legion and everything it represents.”

The exhibition consists of several panels created by Jan and Sabina Kratochvílovi from the Brno Museum of Czech and Slovak Exile of 20th century. On of the most important pieces is a historical saber of Milan Štefánik, important Czechoslovak statesman.

Legions are a phenomenon of the First World War. In this period, not even twenty years old Czechoslovak soldiers, who either deserted or were kept hostage, joined the foreign legions to fight Germany and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, in fact their own homeland. “They were true heroes. Heroes, who formed a legendary army,” said Boček.

France was one of the countries that established foreign legions. About 10 000 Czech and Slovak soldiers have fought there. In 1914, a company called Nazdar! was established under the French foreign legion. The Czechoslovak Legion came into existence later in 1918 and in spring 1919 returned home to Czechoslovakia as war heroes. František Kupka, a famous Czech painter, was one of the well known legionaries.

Source: ČTK, Český rozhlas
Photo: Office of the vise-president of European Parliament O. Vlasák