A statue of President Woodrow Wilson has been returned to a place of honor in Prague 70 years after the Nazis destroyed the original when they occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. Wilson is revered in the Czech Republic for championing the country’s independence following the war to end all wars, World War I, The Washington Post
The statue, one of just a few of American presidents to be found in foreign countries, is at Prague’s main train station, which also is named after Wilson.
“I’m not saying Wilson is omnipresent these days, but the United States and the Czech Republic have a very strong bond,” Petr Gandalovic, the Czech ambassador to the United States, told the Post. “Of course, this is a landmark of Czech-American relations. It’s an opportunity to commemorate the importance of the United States of America in the creation of independent Czechoslovakia.”
In honor of Wilson’s advocacy for the country, the art nouveau train station was named for him in 1919 and an 11-foot bronze statue of Wilson perched on a 14-foot pedestal was added in 1924. The Nazis, on the order of Reinhard Heydrich, destroyed the statue and renamed the train station the “Main Station,” the Post reported.
There things stood until the reign of the communists came to an end and the group American Friends of the Czech Republic stepped in to restore the statue.
“We literally pieced together how the statue was created and how it looked,” Phil Kasik, a founder of the group, told the Post. The artists hoping to recreate the original were at first stymied, working only from photos. However, researchers discovered the original plaster molds for Wilson’s head and shoulders in the country’s national museum warehouse and were able to calculate the original proportions.
The Czechs so admired Wilson that they placed a plaque on Wilson Street after World War II to mark the destroyed statue. The marker, later destroyed by the Communists, said, according to the Post, “Here once stood a statue to Woodrow Wilson, and someday it will be rebuilt by Americans of Czech descent.”
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