General Becvar opens exhibition on women in the military

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

The Chief of the General Staff General Josef Becvar opened an exhibition last week entitled ‘Women in the battlefields and at the rear‘ dedicated to Czech heroines in uniform.

The exhibition currently being shown on the forecourt of the General Staff building in Prague depicts the true-life stories of women who served in Czechoslovak and Czech military units.

The first female soldiers volunteered to join the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion, then based in Buzuluk (north of Kursk, Russia), in 1942. They received basic military training and went on to fight against Nazi troops invading the Soviet Union. Together with the Red Army, and after a long and ardous combat-lined journey, they helped liberate Czechoslovakia in 1945.

The photograpic exhibition shows this important milestone of women in uniforms and their bravery on the battlefields during WW2, and also depicts the fate of some of these heroins during the domestic resistance movement in occupied Czechoslovakia.

"Presently, in the Czech Armed Forces, the proportion of female personnel serving is 13%. They serve alongside male personnel, not only in traditional female specialities such as signals, medical service and administration, but also in demanding and dangerous foreign operations," said General Becvar at the opening ceremony. "I support and welcome the theme of this exposition which effectively connects the history of women in the battlefield to the present by presenting examples of their bravery and commitment to our contemporary female colleagues already in uniform and to those women who are contemplating joining the military."

Among the many guests at the ceremony were Lieutenant Ret. Vera Holubeva, a radio operator in the Czechoslovak Signal Battalion who served during the Dukla Pass combat in 1944, her sister, Lieutenant Ret. Vanda Binevska, who served as a sniper during WW2. The ceremony was also attended by Colonel Ret. Vera Perlingerova who was a pioneer in her speciality. As an air traffic controller, she contributed substantially to the development of military and civilian air traffic coordination. Subsequently, the Czech manufacturer of the passive air surveillance systems, ERA, decided to dedicate one of its products to her (VERA).

The Military History Institute exhibites historical and current events, themes and anniversaries in the forecourt of the General Staff building in Dejvice (Prague 6) five times a year. This current exposition was organised by Jiri Plachy and Jindrich Marek.

By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

August 24, 2016