Plzen - The five-day Liberation Festival that celebrated the end of World War Two and the arrival of the U.S. army in Plzen on May 6, 1945 ended with a commemorative event at the memorial to the American troops.
Vzpomínkovým aktem u památníku Díky, Ameriko! skončil 6. května program Slavností svobody - oslav 69. výročí osvobození Plzně americkou armádou. ČTK Eret Petr
The speakers at the event, who included Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Senate chairman Milan Stech, also talked of Ukraine and warned against a military conflict.
Sobotka said the former Czechoslovak communist regime tried to suppress the memories of the liberation of Plzen by U.S. soldiers.
He noted that Czechoslovakia was also liberated by Russian, Polish and Romanian troops.
Sobotka told CTK after the ceremonial event that the security of the Czech Republic is good thanks to the European Union.
He said the present developments in Ukraine appear to be the biggest crisis challenging the security situation since May 2004 when the Czech Republic joined the EU, along with nine other countries.
"Any conflict in Russia or Ukraine will also dramatically affect also the economy and security in Europe," Sobotka said.
He said it is vital that the Czech Republic contributes to the efforts to reach a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Plzen Mayor Martin Baxa pointed out that Plzen has been celebrating the liberation by U.S. soldiers for 25 years, since the fall of the country´s communist regime in 1989.
Baxa said Plzen had been the only Czech city liberated by the U.S. army and that the communist regime banned any mention of the event.
WW2 veterans from the United States and Belgium who liberated Plzen in 1945, now more than 90 years old, return to the city every year.
Crowds of locals today applauded the veterans who jointly laid wreaths and flowers to the memorial.
The veterans still regret that they had to stop on the demarcation line and could not continue eastwards to liberate Prague as well.
The demarcation line defined which areas would be liberated by the Red Army and which by the Western armies.
U.S. war veteran George Thompson, from Oregon, said this is his ninth visit to the Plzen celebrations of Victory. In 1991 he came for the first time, he added.
Among the guests was George Patton Watters, a grand-son of General George S. Patton whose troops liberated Plzen.
On Sunday, an international Convoy of Liberty of over 150 historical military vehicles drove through Plzen.