Filmmakers to spotlight Czech Legions' history

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American filmmakers Bruce Bendinger and John Iltis don’t mince words when stating the purpose of their current project.

“The Czech Republic had its history stolen,” Bendinger says matter-of-factly. “We’re trying to give a country back its history.”
This week, the two Chicago-based men will begin filming for a TV documentary about the Czechoslovak Legions. The history of the Legions, small armies that fought with the allies during World War I and played a significant part in Czechoslovakia’s independence from Austria-Hungary, was suppressed and rewritten here under Nazism and communism.

“For 50 years, you got yourself in a lot of trouble talking about it,” Bendinger says.

Drawing upon the expertise and experience of advisers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the documentary is part of a long-term effort called the Czech Legion Project (, aimed at reviving popular knowledge about this oft-forgotten but pivotal episode in Czechoslovak history.

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