Archive: History | Communism Communism

Into the Cold - 60 years since Churchill's Iron Curtain speech

06-03-2006 14:51 | Chris Jarrett

Winston Churchill in Fulton The Cold War held the political world on edge until its end in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell. This significant rift in international relations overshadowed world politics for over 45 years. Now, 60 years have passed since Winston Churchill delivered his famous "Iron Curtain" speech, which is widely regarded as the beginning of the Cold War. Chris Jarrett takes a look at the impact of the Iron Curtain on Czechoslovak borders.   More

50 years since Khrushchev's Secret Speech

01-03-2006 15:25 | Chris Jarrett

Nikita Khrushchev 50 years ago on Saturday, the Communist Party in Moscow fell silent as Nikita Khrushchev took the podium at the 20th Party Conference to deliver his famous "Secret Speech". This monumental attack on Stalin's brutal rule had a great impact on many countries of the Soviet Bloc, and was the beginning of the end for hard-line Stalinism in many countries. Chris Jarrett takes a look at how Czechoslovak society reacted to this political shift.   More

Young Czechs remember Jan Palach

16-01-2006 14:23 | David Vaughan

Jan Palach Every year in the middle of January we remember Jan Palach. On 16th January 1969, five months after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, he dowsed himself with petrol and set himself alight on Prague's Wenceslas Square. In a letter he wrote that he wanted to awaken his fellow citizens from apathy and resignation following the invasion. Three days later he died, and his funeral was attended by tens of thousands of people, a demonstration for freedom and democracy that the invasion had crushed. The 20-year old from the grey little town of Vsetaty just north of Prague became an international symbol of the tragedy of Czechoslovakia. But does his sacrifice still mean something to today's young Czechs? Pupils and staff from a secondary school named after Jan Palach in Prague were among those attending a commemoration ceremony in Vsetaty on Saturday. David Vaughan's report starts with the headmaster of the Jan Palach School, Michal Musil.   More

Sidonie Nadherna - a writer's and poet's Bohemian muse

28-12-2005 14:54 | Dita Asiedu

Sidonie Nadherna Gazing out of the window of a spacious room in a romantic neo-gothic chateau, I see the image of a woman in a beautiful early twentieth century dress sitting on a bench in the scenic park that spreads out before me. Two men, a writer and a poet, are keeping her company, taking in the calm of the landscape around them but keeping their eyes fixed on their muse - Sidonie Nadherna.   More

Jiri Jes - veteran broadcaster looks back on Czechoslovakia's dark century

19-12-2005 14:43 | Rob Cameron

Jiri Jes My guest on this week's One on One is Jiri Jes, a journalist and broadcaster who still appears regularly on Czech Radio at the age of 80. Prevented from writing during the Communist era, Jiri Jes began his journalist career in the early 1990s, when he was already in his sixties. When I met Jiri on a snowy Sunday afternoon in Prague's Bila Hora district, I began by asking him for his memories of childhood in pre-war Czechoslovakia.   More

Frantisek Zahradka - from boyscout to 'class enemy' and a lifetime literally underground

01-12-2005 14:40 | Brian Kenety

Frantisek Zahradka got a 20 year sentence for treason Political prisoners had been forced to work the mines of Czechoslovakia long before the Communists seized power in the "bloodless" coup of February 1948. Under the direction of the hard-line Stalinist leader Klement Gottwald, however, securing workers to unearth weapons-grade uranium became policy; a top priority. The camps served two purposes: a way to purge the land of "class enemies" and to build up the atomic arsenal of the Soviet Union, when few could have guessed the ideological war with the West would remain a "cold" one.  More

Czech Radio uncovers long-lost audio from Milada Horakova's trial

21-11-2005 14:26 | Jan Velinger

Milada Horakova The sentencing to death of Czech MP Milada Horakova on trumped up charges of treason at the height of the Stalinist regime in the 1950s will always be one of the most painful and chilling moments in Czech history. A little more than 55 years ago, she faced her show trial with calm and defiance, refusing to be broken. Audio recordings - intended to be used by the Communists for propaganda purposes - were mostly never aired, for the large part because for the Party's purposes, they were unusable. After Milada Horakova's trial and execution, much of the material was subsequently hidden away and and gradually forgotten. Until now. Not long ago, a number of reels were uncovered by Czech Radio, dating back to the trial's last day.  More

Discontent on streets as Czechs remember November 17th 1989

18-11-2005 14:06 | Rob Cameron

Photo: CTK Czechs and Slovaks marked the 16th anniversary of the start of the 1989 Velvet Revolution on Thursday, a time when people remember the overthrow of Communist rule and reflect on the changes that have swept society since then. But discontent is growing with the current political situation, and that discontent was reflected in the mood on the streets of Prague. Radio Prague's Rob Cameron has this report.   More

Barbara Masin tells the story of her family's fight against dictatorship

16-11-2005 15:30 | Pavla Horáková

Barbara Masin, photo: CTK "The greatest story of the Cold War" - that's how the story of the Masin brothers who shot their way out of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s is often described. The sons of a Czech WWII hero decided to fight the Communists the way their father fought the Nazis, and in 1953 they escaped from Czechoslovakia to West Berlin. Two of their friends did not make it and the group shot six people during and before their escape. More than fifty years on, the story still provokes controversy in the Czech Republic. The debate is no doubt going to be rekindled by a newly published book called "The Testament" by the daughter of one of the Masin brothers, Barbara, who presented it this week in Prague.  More

New school project to teach children injustices of Communist regime

02-11-2005 14:21 | Rob Cameron

It's just over two weeks until the 16th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution that brought down Communism in Czechoslovakia. But how much do the nation's schoolchildren know about what happened here between 1948 and 1989? Not much, says the leading human rights group People in Need. Throughout November they're visiting schools with documentary films detailing the excesses and cruelties of Communism. They're also bringing with them victims of the regime to share their experiences with pupils. One of them was Jan Wiener, now 85, who escaped the Nazis as a Jewish teenager and later fought in the RAF. After the war, he was rewarded by the Communists with a prison sentence. Rob Cameron spoke to him at the launch of the project in Prague.   More

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