In exile, Benes organized a resistance network. Hacha, Prime
Minister Elias, and the Czech resistance acknowledged Benes's
leadership. Active collaboration between London and the
Czechoslovak home front was maintained throughout the war years.
The Czech resistance comprised four main groups. The army command
coordinated with a multitude of spontaneous groupings to form the
Defense of the Nation (Obrana naroda--ON) with branches in
Britain and France. Benes's collaborators, led by Prokop Drtina,
created the Political Center (Politicke ustredi--PU). The PU was
nearly destroyed by arrests in November 1939, after which younger
politicians took control. Social democrats and leftist
intellectuals, in association with such groups as trade-unions
and educational institutions, constituted the Committee of the
Petition We Remain Faithful (Peticni vybor Verni zustanme--PVVZ).
The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Komunisticka strana
Ceskoslovenska--KSC) was the fourth resistance group. The KSC had
been one of over twenty political parties in the democratic First
Republic, but it had never gained sufficient votes to unsettle
the domocratic government. After the Munich Agreement the
leadership of the KSC moved to Moscow and the party went
underground. Until 1943, however, KSC resistance was weak. The
Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact in 1939 had left the KSC in
disarray. But ever faithful to the Soviet line, the KSC began a
more active struggle against the Nazis after Germany's attack on
the Soviet Union in June 1941
(see The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
, ch. 4).
The democratic groups--ON, PU, and PVVZ--united in early 1940
and formed the Central Committee of the Home Resistance (Ustredni
vybor odboje domaciho--UVOD). Involved primarily in intelligence
gathering, the UVOD cooperated with a Soviet intelligence
organization in Prague. Following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet
Union in June 1941, the democratic groups attempted to create a
united front that would include the KSC. Heydrich's appointment
in the fall thwarted these efforts. By mid-1942 the Nazis had
succeeded in exterminating the most experienced elements of the
Czech resistance forces.
Czech forces regrouped in 1942 and 1943. The Council of the
Three (R3), in which the communist underground was strongly
represented, emerged as the focal point of the resistance. The R3
prepared to assist the liberating armies of the United States and
the Soviet Union. In cooperation with Red Army partisan units,
the R3 developed a guerrilla structure.
Guerrilla activity intensified after the formation of a
provisional Czechoslovak government in Kosice on April 4, 1945.
"National committees" took over the administration of towns as
the Germans were expelled. Under the supervision of the Red Army,
more than 4,850 such committees were formed between 1944 and the
end of the war. On May 5 a national uprising began spontaneously
in Prague, and the newly formed Czech National Council (Ceska
narodni rada) almost immediately assumed leadership of the
revolt. Over 1,600 barricades were erected throughout the city,
and some 30,000 Czech men and women battled for three days
against 37,000 to 40,000 German troops backed by tanks and
artillery. On May 8 the German Wehrmacht capitulated; Soviet
troops arrived on May 9.
Data as of August 1987