Radio Prague is on Wednesday celebrating the 80th anniversary of its first, shortwave broadcast, which was from outside Pardubice in East Bohemia on 31 August 1936. In connection with the anniversary the Foreign Czech of the Year Award, selected by Radio Prague and fellow Czech Radio station Vltava, was presented to doctor Karel Pacák. Radio Prague has six language sections, each of which produce a half-hour programme daily.
In this, the last programme in our series to mark Radio Prague’s 80th birthday, we travel eastwards looking at links between India and Czechoslovakia both before and after the Second World War as captured in our archives. In the 1920s and 30s cultural links were strong, despite the huge differences and distance between the two countries, and many of these links survived even in the time of the Cold War. David Vaughan has more.
This week in our series to mark Radio Prague’s 80th birthday we feature a recording made in the summer of 1946, when Radio Prague was exactly ten years old. A. J. P. Taylor was one of the best known and respected historians of mid-twentieth century Britain, and on a visit to Czechoslovakia he predicted a future for the country that would combine pluralist, parliamentary democracy with communism. David Vaughan has more.
In the first part of this series two weeks ago, we went back to 1932 with a recording of memories of Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk, the American wife of Czechoslovakia’s first president. A year later the political landscape of Europe and changed completely. Hitler had come to power in Germany, and suddenly Czechoslovakia’s position in Europe seemed perilous. It was in this atmosphere that Radio Prague was launched as the international service of Czechoslovak Radio in 1936. The aim was to counter German propaganda and remind the western democracies
Several dozen Czech diplomats, scientists and other notable figures have signed an open letter addressed to renowned British playwright with Czech roots Tom Stoppard appealing to Great Britain to remain within the European Union. In the letter, Czech signatories point to historic and cultural ties between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. The letter was initiated by the former Czech ambassador to Great Britain, Michael Žantovský. Brits are to vote on the so-called Brexit on June 23.
By attending a rally organised by Bloc against Islam in Prague on Tuesday on the occasion of November 17, President Miloš Zeman had distanced himself from democratic values, a group of five Czech EU deputies wrote in a letter addressed to the Czech head of state. The deputies, including Michaela Šojdrová of the Christian Democratic Party and Jaromír Štětina for TOP 09, criticize the Czech president for supporting the initiative Block against Islam, which they call a fascist-style movement. President’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček has rejected the criticism, arguing that the deputies are merely attempting to attract media’s attention.
A number of leading figures in the 1989 Velvet Revolution have written an open letter calling on the Czech government to reassess its opposition to an EU quota system for refugees. The group, comprising Michael Kocáb, Ivan Gabal, Fedor Gál, Jan Urban and Jan Ruml, said the government’s uncompromising position on the matter could lead to the erosion of the Schengen zone and the breakup of the EU. They said the public should be truthfully informed about the number of illegal migrants and asylum seekers who have passed through the Czech Republic in the last two decades without endangering the state. Other signatories include priest Tomáš Halík, political scientist Jiří Pehe and former Constitutional Court judge Eliška Wagnerová.
We have often drawn from Czech Radio’s sound archives in our broadcasts, as they make up one of the richest radio archives in the world, offering insight into the history of this country going back well over eighty years. In the last four years I have been working with journalism students from the Anglo-American University in Prague to explore some of the recordings lying long forgotten in the archives. This year a group of my students came across a moving and unusual – even experimental – drama documentary made in 1967 by the English Section of