10:14 GMT21 September 2020
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    The two countries share a 796 km-long border and, despite a brief border conflict in 1919, and the annexation of a small strip of Czechoslovak territory by Poland in 1938, enjoy good relations.

    In an incident that went unnoticed by pretty much everyone, a group of Polish troops accidentally ‘invaded’ a piece of Czech territory and occupied a small village.

    The incursion began last month when, as part of the temporary closure of the border between the two countries due to the coronavirus, Polish troops were ordered to block a bridge over the Troja River separating the Czech village of Pelhrimovy from the Polish village of Pielgrzymow. However, instead of setting up the sentry post on the Polish side of the border, Polish forces mistakenly established it up on the Czech side, near Pelhrimovy’s historic chapel, a local tourist attraction.

    Local residents and tourists complained after Polish troops prevented a Czech construction crew from renovating the chapel.

    The incident prompted the Czech foreign ministry to intervene, with their Polish counterparts quickly admitting that the incorrect stationing of its troops was a “misunderstanding,” and evacuating the position shortly thereafter.

    On Saturday, a Czech foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed to NPR that Polish troops had “mistakenly deterred our citizens from entering a church on Czech territory in close vicinity of the Czech-Polish borders,” adding that the dispute has been resolved, with Polish troops “no longer” stationed in the area.

    Poland’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, said the issue was discussed by officials responsible for border protection and, “in the spirit of good Polish-Czech relations,” was “only a minor understanding that was quickly cleared up.”

    Photos of the incident made their way online, with users making it a source of memes and jokes featuring pop culture references that most Westerners may find obscure.

    Tweet reads: “An investigation has started regarding the annexation of a chapel in the Czech Republic.” Man in video says: “Good morning, what idiot is in charge here?” (Next shot is of Polish President Andrzej Duda).

    Poster featuring characters from ‘Mole’, a popular Czechoslovak cartoon by animator Zdenek Miller: Rabbit says: “Mole, are you not afraid of a Polish occupation?” Mole: “I’m not afraid.”

    Photo: Pat from the Czechoslovak slapstick stop-motion animated series Pat & Mat. Text reads: “The Czech underground in the occupied territories is already preparing for an uprising.”


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