Archive: History | Second World War Second World War

Jan Kaplan: Operation Anthropoid more appreciated as years go by

20-02-2012 | Ian Willoughby

As part of an exhibition linked to the 70th anniversary of the Lidice massacre in June, Prague's Dox Centre for Contemporary Art is currently hosting a video installation by the London-based Czech documentary maker and editor Jan Kaplan entitled 10:35. The name refers to the time of day that the operation to assassinate the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia – which preceded the Lidice atrocity – reached its climax in a Prague suburb on May 27, 1942. The UK-based Czechoslovak paratroopers who carried out the attack later met their deaths in a church in the city.  More

A long-forgotten story of survival from WWII comes to light

16-02-2012 17:13 | Daniela Lazarová

A black and white photograph of a smiling Jewish girl unearthed in a photographer’s studio some years ago has led a young Czech journalist to piece together the dramatic story of a large group of Jewish children who were smuggled to Denmark to escape the Holocaust. While the story of the Nicolas Winton children is well known, this one is only just coming to light and will hopefully reunite long-lost friends scattered around the globe. The freelance journalist who is singlehandedly tackling the task is Judita Matyasova whom I invited to the studio. She began by telling me how it all came about.  More

An Englishwoman who has lived in Prague for over six decades – ‘war bride’ Ivy Kovandová

04-02-2012 02:01 | Sarah Borufka

Ivy Kovandová Ivy Kovandová is one of the few remaining so-called war brides in the Czech Republic. ‘War brides’ are Englishwomen who married Czechoslovak pilots or soldiers stationed in the UK during WWII – an estimated 10,000 soldiers and about 2,500 pilots from Czechoslovakia fought alongside the allies, and many of them married local women. Some of those women accompanied their husbands back to their native land after the war. But most left Czechoslovakia due to the strain that the arrival of the communist regime placed on their lives, or simply because they felt lost and homesick. Ivy Kovandová, however, still lives in her cozy apartment in Prague’s Vršovice neighborhood and says she has never even considered leaving. Just a few weeks ago, she celebrated her 90th birthday. I recently visited Ivy at her home, where she told me all about her adventurous life over cake and coffee.  More

Charles Ota Heller: a soldier at the age of nine

21-01-2012 02:01 | David Vaughan

Charles Ota Heller, photo: David Vaughan In the last days of World War II, nine-year-old Ota Heller picked up a revolver and fired it at a German soldier. He did not wait to see if the man was still alive. For decades afterwards he talked to no one about the experience, and only recently has Ota Heller – or Charles Ota Heller, as he is now called – felt able to return to his memories of the war, collecting them in his book “Out of Prague”. In this week’s Czech Books he talks to David Vaughan.  More

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

Village commemorates arrival of parachutists who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich

29-12-2011 16:43 | Jan Richter

Photo: www.nehvizdy.cz The village of Nehvizdy, in central Bohemia, on Wednesday commemorated the 70th anniversary of the start of Operation Anthropoid, the targeted killing of the Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. Two Czechoslovak commandoes who carried out the killing, landed near the village on the night of 28 December, 1941.  More

A Christmas message from the survivors of Lidice in 1945

17-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

With Christmas just round the corner, we break our chronological journey through the archives this week to go back to Christmas 1945. We’re in Kročehlavy, a suburb of the industrial town of Kladno near Prague. This was home to the survivors of one of the horrors of the wartime occupation, the murder in June 1942 of all the men and most of the children from the nearby village of Lidice. Only one Lidice family had survived the massacre intact: Josef Horák was one of two young pilots from the village who had fled at the beginning of the occupation, and he spent the war serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force. After the liberation he moved straight back to Czechoslovakia with his English wife Wynne and their two small children. The family was a symbol of a new life for Lidice, and over Christmas 1945 Czechoslovak Radio arranged a radio bridge to Britain from a Christmas party in the Horáks’ living room. Here is a slightly edited version of that broadcast.  More

The bombing of Prague from a new perspective

13-12-2011 17:05 | Christian Falvey

Photo: Stanislav Maršál For all the suffering that Bohemia and Moravia endured during WWII, relatively little of the damage was physical. Prague escaped the terrible bombing that left so many of the ancient cities of Europe wasted. There were incidents, however - two in particular in the last year of the war that brought large-scale destruction and great loss of life.  More

Survivors remember first transport to Terezín in winter of 1941

25-11-2011 14:18 | Rob Cameron

Terezín It's exactly seventy years since the first transport of Czechoslovak Jews left Prague, bound for the garrison town of Terezín, transformed by the Nazis into a ghetto and concentration camp. Some 140,000 Jewish men, women and children were sent to Terezín, known as Theresienstadt in German; most of them were later killed at Auschwitz. A number of events were held this week bringing together Terezín survivors, one of them on Thursday evening at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.  More

Eva Jiránková - A remarkable life

17-11-2011 02:01 | Jan Velinger

Eva Jiránková, photo: Czech Television In today’s Special our guest is the charming Eva Jiránková, born in 1921 to a notable Prague family in the early years of the First Republic. As a junior, Jiránková was a competitive skier and as a young woman she graced the covers of popular Czech magazines – something of a charmed life. But that all that ended in September 1942 when her husband, Miloš Jiránek, was arrested by the Gestapo, and spent the next years in internment and concentration camps.  More

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