This film is part of Free
From the spires of Prague to the furnaces of the Skoda armaments factory, this tumultuous account of a recently reborn Czechoslovakia portrays a country finding its way in a new Europe.
In 1946 Czechoslovakia had to deal with its past while swiftly making sure that its future was secure. This March of Time film captures the urgency with which the coalition government was pursuing this dual objective. Nazis were tried for their crimes, millions of Germans were expelled from the Sudetenland, and workers’ councils took over the running of factories, as President Edvard Benes tried to maintain his alliance with Soviet Russia, without losing the friendship of the west.
Czechoslovakia emerged from the war with the balance of power maintained in a coalition government. President Edvard Benes - seen here being rapturously received on his return to Prague from exile - worked with the Communist Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Klement Gottwald. The uneasy nature of the alliance is only hinted at in this film, which opts to speak optimistically about the future of the country, emphasising the American and British aid granted to Czechoslovakia under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). In 1948, however, a Soviet-backed coup brought Benes’ presidency to an end, and ushered in four decades of Communist rule.