Zorin A. V. The Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia in 1945 in American Messages: Perception, Images, Stereotypes (.pdf)


From May to November 1945, the Czechoslovak Republic liberated from the German occupation was under the control of the Soviet and American armies. Most of its territory was in the Red Army’s zone of responsibility, while American troops occupied a small area in Western Bohemia. In Czechoslovakia, the Americans met their eastern allies face to face for the first time after the long war period, not on a hostile, but a friendly territory. For the first time, Americans were able to see the Soviet soldiers and understand their behavior, way of life, and attitudes. The US diplomats who stayed in the Soviet zone on an ongoing basis, as well as American military personnel, who visited and contacted their Russian colleagues, described their features, habits, and striking features. Those observations reflected contradictory attitudes towards the Soviet Union and the Red Army soldiers who represented it: on the one hand, as liberators and allies; on the other, as aliens and potential enemies. In different reports and messages, the obvious difference in cultural, ideological, political and other attitudes that existed between two nations was reflected. The article examines the reasons of such perception of the Soviet military by American observers. The author concludes that, in addition to describing the real situation, other factors influenced their impressions: cultural and ideological differences, prejudice, inevitable opposition of the Soviet and American soldiers, and non-critical transmission of information from Czech and Slovak sources. In general, those messages characterized by the emphasis on the differences between the American and Soviet military, the belief in the moral superiority of their soldiers over the Russian ones, as well as the growing fears about the USSR and the Red Army, perceived as a carrier of alien ideas, values, and culture.


Key words: Red Army, history of Czechoslovakia, Soviet-Czechoslovak relations, Soviet-American relations.


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