Over the past year and half, the Czech National Library has been carrying out a unique research project documenting books confiscated or dispossessed and brought to Czechoslovakia during World War II or shortly afterwards. Many of the books got lost, while others lay scattered in the archives all over the country for decades. Now, the National Library has uncovered at least part of the collection to map the books’ history and trace their original owners.
Thousands of Jewish writers and musicians found their careers cut short by the Holocaust. Tragically, this was the culmination of a long history of persecution and pogroms in many parts of Europe. Lives were destroyed and in many cases people’s work was lost, forgotten or torn from its cultural and linguistic context. Now a major new project is underway to bring to together some of the shattered fragments of this rich legacy of music and theatre. It will culminate in an international festival, Out of the Shadows, which will take place in several
Mene Tekel, a week-long festival focused on the totalitarian regimes of the past, gets underway in Prague on Monday. The festival, now in its 10th year, will focus on meetings with those whose lives were blighted by Nazism or communism and experts on those subject regimes, as well as including exhibitions, film screenings and other events. One of the highlights of this year’s Mene Tekel will be an awards ceremony on Friday at Prague’s Divadlo na Vinohradech theatre celebrating artists who resisted totalitarianism in their work or were persecuted for their beliefs.
Two German treasure hunters have claimed that the world famous amber chamber looted by Nazi forces from St. Petersburg during the Second World War is hidden in the cellars of a Czech castle. The claim has been made by Germans Erich Stenz and Georg Mederer that the treasure is hidden at Frýdlant castle in northern Bohemia. They say a now dead witness recounted how lorries brought the treasure there towards the end of the war. The treasure hunters complain their attempts to pursue research at the site has been blocked by the Czech National Heritage Institute and the Czech government. The amber room was a gift to Tsar Peter the Great by the then ruler of Prussia at the start of the 18th century.
During WWII, the London-based Czechoslovak government in exile had only one method of communicating regularly with its people at home: over the airwaves of the BBC. To discuss the content of these programmes, ministers’ broadcasting skills, coded messages to the resistance and much more, I recently caught up with academic Erica Harrison, who has conducted ground-breaking research into the subject. My first question: How much broadcasting did the exile government actually do?
Power, sex, and film world glamour, against the backdrop of the rise and fall of the Nazi regime. The story of Czechoslovak film actress, Lída Baarová, has it all. And it’s therefore not surprising that the Czech film world has returned yet again to Baarová this month, first with a documentary film about the actress and then with a full length feature film.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has expressed full backing for British Prime
Minister David Cameron’s EU reform efforts. He made the statement while
welcoming Mr Cameron for a private meeting at Prague Castle. Earlier on
Friday, the British prime minister met with his Czech counterpart Bohuslav
Sobotka to discuss EU reform and other issues. Mr Cameron also took the
time to lay a wreath at a memorial site at Prague’s Klárov - honouring
Czechoslovak airmen who served in the RAF during the Second World War. The
Czech News Agency suggested that Prime Minister David Cameron would also
still meet with representatives of the opposition Civic Democratic Party
– partners of the British Conservative Party at the European level.
Czech Radio reported Friday that the Czech side will be seeking a end to a British veto on the sale of Czech L-159 planes to Iraq. Some of the radar technology on the plane is British-made and UK authorities are reported to fear it falling into the wrong hands.
Hana Ludikar is one of the few surviving members of the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Association, a group remembering the Czechoslovaks who fought with Britain’s RAF during WWII that was co-founded by her late husband Marcel. In this special programme, she tells us all about a life deeply impacted by the events of modern Czech history.
The Gulag Online Museum presenting a 3-D reconstruction and virtual tour of the former Soviet labour camp system will be launched by the Czech association Archipelago in March or April of 2016, its head Štepan Černoušek has told the Czech News Agency. The aim of the project is to allow internet users to learn more about the infamous system and specific sites on the internet. The organiser said that while most people knew the names of Nazi concentration camps, and that museums had been built at sites annually visited by hundred of thousands of people, the names of Gulag labour camps such as Pechora, Kolyma, Norilsk or Yermakovo were far less known. He added that no museum had been built at the locations so far.
Four people who fought Nazism were honoured with the Memory of the Nation Award at a ceremony at Prague’s National Theatre on Tuesday evening. The prizes went to Anna Hyndráková, the only member of her family to survive the Nazi concentration camps; Lýdia Kovářová, who along with her family helped hide a resistance group; Branislav Tvarožek, who also aided the resistance and fought in the Slovak National Uprising; and Viktor Wellemín, who fled with his Jewish family to Palestine and joined a Czechoslovak unit that fought in Tobruk and was later injured in Dunkirk. The awards are presented every year by the civic association Post Bellum.