Plzeň (Czech pronunciation: [ˈpl̩.zɛɲ] ( listen)), also called Pilsen in English and German, is a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic. About 90 kilometres (56 miles) west of Prague, it is the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic.
The city is known worldwide for Pilsner beer, created by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll there in 1842.
Following Czechoslovak independence from Austria-Hungary in 1918 the German-speaking minority in the countryside bordering the city of Plzeň hoped to be united with Austria and were unhappy at being included in Czechoslovakia. Many allied themselves to the Nazi cause after 1933, in the hope that Adolf Hitler might be able to unite them with their German-speaking neighbours.
Following the Munich Agreement in 1938, Plzeň became literally a frontier town, after the creation of the Sudetenland moved the Third Reich borders to the city’s outer limits. During the Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945 the Škoda Works in Pilsen was forced to provide armaments for the Wehrmacht, and Czech contributions, particularly in the field of tanks, were noted.
Between 17 and 26 January 1942, over 2,000 Jewish inhabitants, most of Plzeň’s Jewish population, were deported by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
The German-speaking population was forcibly expelled from the city and indeed all of Czechoslovakia after the end of the war in 1945, according to the provisions of the Potsdam agreement. All of their property was confiscated.
On 6 May 1945, near the end of the Second World War, Plzeň was liberated from Nazi Germany by the 16th Armored Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army. Also participating in the liberation of the city were elements of the 97th and 2nd Infantry Divisions supported by Polish, controversial, Holy Cross Mountains Brigade. Other Third Army units liberated major portions of Western Bohemia. The rest of Czechoslovakia was liberated from German control by the Soviet Red Army. Elements of the 3rd Army, as well as units from the 1st Army, remained in Plzeň until late November 1945, assisting the Czechs with rebuilding.