PRAGUE (May. 18)
Czechoslovakia’s ties with Israel were acknowledged and strengthened by two events here last week.
An exhibition on the history of Jews in Czechoslovakia was opened May 11 under the patronage of President Vaclav Havel.
On May 12, two memorial tablets donated by the Association of Veterans of the Haganah were unveiled at the Military Museum of the Czechoslovak Army. One honors the memory of Jews who fought in the Czech armed forces and with partisan groups during the Nazi occupation.
The other expresses appreciation to the Czechoslovak republic for its support during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 by training Israeli pilots and paratroopers and delivering arms and military equipment.
Czechoslovak citizens are seeing for the first time the aid their country gave to the fledgling Jewish state.
The tablets were unveiled by Deputy Defense Minister Antonin Rasek and Gen. Karel Pezl, chief of the General Staff. Rasek observed that at certain stages of World War II, the majority of soldiers in the Czechoslovak army were Jews.
Israel’s ambassador, Yoel Sher, and a retired Israeli air force commander, Gen. Mordechai Hod, attended.
Sher also participated with Deputy Minister of Culture Milan Uhde in the opening of the cultural exhibition titled “Where Cultures Meet.” It was prepared by the Beth Hatefutsot Museum of the Diaspora, in Tel Aviv, in cooperation with the Jewish Museum in Prague.
The exhibition was originally opened in Tel Aviv in April 1990 by President Havel, who was visiting Israel. It was brought to Czechoslovakia by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation of New York.
Lauder, former U.S. ambassador to Austria, stressed at the ceremonial opening the educational value of the event for the younger generations in post-communist Czechoslovakia, where there is very little knowledge of the spiritual achievements of Jewry.