Archive: History | Communism Communism

Fighter against dictatorships: Cardinal Josef Beran

03-01-2012 16:02 | Chris Johnstone

Archbishop, later Cardinal, Josef Beran, become a symbol of opposition to totalitarian regimes. He was dubbed the archbishop who refused to be silenced. The punishment for speaking out was imprisonment first under the Nazi occupation and then the Communists.  More

How the Velvet Revolution overturned the literary landscape

30-12-2011 14:18 | Chris Johnstone

Writers were at the forefront of the Velvet Revolution. But when the dust settled on the political changes they found a fast changing publishing revolution underway that left some of them sidelined. We look at the changes in the publishing and literary world over the last two decades.  More

Yuri Gagarin: to Prague via the stratosphere

10-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Yuri Gagarin in Prague, photo: CTK Even after the death of Stalin in the Soviet Union and Klement Gottwald in Czechoslovakia the 1950s remained a period of high political tension between East and West. The Cold War was at its height; with it came the arms race and the space race. Here is Czechoslovakia’s president Antonín Novotný, in a New Year radio address on January 1 1958:  More

Stalin and Gottwald: together in life and death

03-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Joseph Stalin and Klement Gottwald When Joseph Stalin died on March 5 1953, it sent shockwaves round the world. In Czechoslovakia his personality cult had been almost as overwhelming as in the Soviet Union itself. At the time of his death, work was already well under way to build the biggest statue of the Soviet dictator in the world – unveiled two years later in Letná Park. Stalin had a close ally and kindred spirit in the Czechoslovak President, Klement Gottwald, and Gottwald ignored warnings from his doctors in order to attend his friend and protector’s funeral. Before leading the Czechoslovak delegation to Moscow, he had a few words for his country’s citizens.  More

DVD series resurrects 1950s Czechoslovak Socialist Realist films

25-11-2011 11:43 | Ian Willoughby

Filmy patří lidu (Films Belong to the People) is the title of a series of Socialist Realist pictures that have been released on DVD in the Czech Republic in recent months. These propaganda-filled films are from the 1950s, the harshest decade of the communist era, notorious for its brutal repression, show trials and forced labour camps.  More

Anniversary of Velvet Revolution marked by anti-government demonstrations

18-11-2011 15:32 | Pavla Horáková

Photo: CTK On Thursday, November 17th, the Czech Republic marked 22 years since the start of the Velvet Revolution as well as the 72nd anniversary of the events of November 1939 which resulted in the closure of all Czech universities by the Nazis and reprisals against students and intellectuals. But many Czechs used the holiday to voice their discontent with the current government policies.  More

Museum of Communism offers foreign visitors a glimpse of life behind the Iron Curtain

18-11-2011 10:11 | Daniela Lazarová

Museum of Communism On Prague’s Na Prikope street, in the very heart of the city –right next to McDonalds – is a Museum of Communism. What comes as a surprise to many locals and foreign visitors is that this private venture is the work of an American businessman who owns a number of bars and restaurants in the Czech capital. Glenn Spicker came to Prague 17 years ago, on a wave of interest in the post communist world. Unlike others he launched a successful business venture and stayed. As Glenn gave me a tour of the museum, he explained what made him branch out so far from his field of enterprise.  More

Post-WWII political leader Prokop Drtina subject of new biography

15-11-2011 15:39 | Jan Richter

The 1948 communist takeover of Czechoslovakia remains a trauma for many Czechs today. Could the country’s fall under Soviet domination have been prevented? Why did Czechoslovak politicians of the era so severely underestimate the threat of communism? These are some of the issues discussed in a new biography of the politician Prokop Drtina, one of the key figures of the brief period between the end of the war and the start of the communist regime.  More

“My first love was a drill”: building the socialist state

12-11-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

After the communist coup, Czechoslovak Radio was at the political vanguard and transformed into a tool of propaganda. One of the first big changes at Radio Prague was that our familiar call signal from Dvořák’s New World Symphony was replaced by a stirring socialist anthem – “Ku předu levá”. The words are simple: “Left foot forwards, left foot forwards, and never a backwards step.” All broadcasts acquired a political hue. Here, for example, is a factory worker, talking about his first love:  More

Milada Horáková: dignity in the face of fanaticism

05-11-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Milada Horáková Many people in Czechoslovakia greeted the communist coup of February 1948 with enthusiasm, in the belief that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to happen again. But following the model of Stalin’s Soviet Union, it was not long before a period of political terror began, with thousands of arrests and then a series of political show trials. The most horrific symbol of the period was the trial and execution of Milada Horáková. She had been one of the most enlightened politicians of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic, a champion of democracy and women’s rights, and had spent most of the war in Nazi prisons and concentration camps.  More



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