An unprecedented trial has just begun here in the Czech Republic, with the young editor of a far-left magazine in the dock. Having called for socialist revolution in the magazine Pochoden, or Torch, 24-year-old David Pecha stands accused of "spreading intolerance and hatred leading to the suppression of basic rights and freedoms". The trial has led to a debate on free speech, with some saying Mr Pecha's case should never have come to trial.
Two Jehovah's Witnesses have been granted compensation worth several hundred Euros for appalling hardship they faced in Czechoslovakia's Stalinist prisons in the early1950s. The hard line authorities had jailed the men as part of a huge clampdown on religious organizations at the height of the communist purges. What makes this case unusual is that the men are neither Czech nor Slovak. Today they are both German citizens. David Vaughan has the story.
Translator and interpreter Katerina Vondrova left communist Czechoslovakia with her parents in 1981 when she was just ten years old. The family moved to Sydney, Australia and Katerina went to primary and secondary school there, without knowing whether she would ever be allowed to visit her native country again. She was in her final year of high school, preparing for a university course in Australia, when something happened on the other side of the globe that altered her plans and determined her future life.
Iska Lichter was born Jindriska Zofie Roudnicka in the town of Kolin, in 1930. The daughter of a Jewish father and a gentile mother, she lived a normal life until 1939 and the Nazi occupation. Her parents divorced - deliberately - to avoid the family being persecuted. Her father sent the family to the countryside, he himself went to his mother's town of Podebrady. He was deported to Terezin in 1942 and later sent to Auschwitz, from which he never returned. Iska, who now lives in Colorado, says hardly a day goes by when she does not think of her
"Comrades, it's not a fact, it really happened!" - that is just one of many absurd phrases recalled from the days of Czechoslovakia's Communist regime: nonsensical decrees, statements, slogans, and citations that reveal the absurdity, ineptness, and general intellectual decline of the period. Elements now recalled in a new project launched by Senator Jaroslava Moserova in conjunction with the Foundation of Czech National Museums and Galleries, striving to save such relics before it's too late. According to Senator Moserova: those who remember are
"Don't meet with the communists!" That's the gist of the petition recently signed by 250 intellectuals. They want to convince other political parties not to meet with the Communist Party. For 13 years then President Vaclav Havel isolated the communist voice in Czech politics. Now President Vaclav Klaus is giving the Communist Party the chance to participate. Votes cast by communists in Parliament helped Mr. Klaus secure the Czech presidency in late February. When President Klaus invited the traditionally euro-pessimistic communists to take part
A court in Prague sentenced a former Communist Party official to four years in prison on Monday, for his role in the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Karel Hoffman, one of a small group of hard-line Communists opposed to the reforms of the "Prague Spring", was found guilty of disrupting official radio broadcasts condemning the invasion. Rob Cameron has this report.
In 1952, when Ivan Margolius was five years old, his father Rudolf, a former deputy minister of foreign trade, was found guilty in the notorious Slansky show trials, surely one of the darkest chapters of the Communist era. Rudolf Margolius, who like Ivan's mother Heda had survived the Nazi death camps, was executed. Ivan Margolius left Czechoslovakia in 1966 and is now a successful architect in the UK. When I spoke to him recently, he recalled growing up in the shadow of his father's death.
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