The short-lived secret organisation Světlana formed in 1948 grew to become the largest anti-Communist group in Czechoslovakia, boasting several hundred members at its peak, operating in more than a dozen cells, mainly in Moravia. That’s one version of events. Many long believed that Světlana was not only infiltrated by the State Security force, or StB, but was in fact a creation of it – part of operations to ensnare “counter-revolutionaries”, those sympathetic to what is now known as the Third Resistance movement. Other questions remain as to whether
One hundred years ago this October, just before the end of World War I, Czechoslovakia declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While these are basic historical facts you might expect every schoolchild to know, a newly released poll shows that almost 1 in 5 adults cannot name an event from 1918 – and even fewer knew the basic history of more recent decades.
Seventy years ago the new Czechoslovak government was fully in the hands of the Communists. After the Stalinist coup d'etat in February 1948, a wave of arrests started and all democratic opposition was suppressed. Unclassified documents of the US Department of State show the degree of naïveté with which the American diplomats and intelligence officers in Prague faced their communist opponents and the subsequent shocking realization that there was nothing they could do.
Hundreds of people braved the cold to light candles and lay flowers at
monuments to the victims of Communism on the 70th anniversary of the
Communist takeover on February 25, 1948. The anniversary is being marked by
debates, exhibitions and film screenings.
A gathering in support of democracy took place on Wenceslas Square at which speakers warned of the danger of giving the Communist Party even a supportive role in the country’s next government.
4,500 people were murdered during the Communist years, 374 were killed at the country’s borders in an attempt to flee to the West, 254 were sentenced to death in political show trials, thousands were persecuted by the Communist secret police and 180,000 people fled the country.
Czechs are marking 70 years since the communist take-over which brought the
country under totalitarian rule for more than four decades.
The anniversary is being marked by film screenings, photo exhibitions and public debates.Gatherings and commemorative acts are taking place in many parts of the country at memorials dedicated to the victims of communism.
In Prague people have been laying flowers and lighting candles at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism at Ujezd and a gathering is expected to take place on old Town Square.
Historians have been stressing the need to keep alive the memory of this dark chapter of the country’s history.
For around 40 years, so-called Victorious February was sacred for the Czechoslovak communist regime. The period from around February 17 and culminating on February 25 marked the party’s seizure of power when leader Klement Gottwald was finally named as prime minister of a communist dominated government.
On February 25, 1948, the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of hard-line, authoritarian rule. The Communist takeover was enabled by the party’s election success in 1946 and the resignation of the government’s remaining democratic ministers in February of 1948. President Edvard Beneš’ decision to confirm the Communists in power rather than dissolve the government and call new elections sealed the country’s fate for decades to come.
Sylva Šimsová was 18 when her father, a Social Democrat politician, told her the family had to escape from Czechoslovakia. It was 1949, a year after the Communists had taken power. The young Sylva insisted that her fiancé, whom she had met through her beloved scouts only six months earlier, come with them. Remarkably, almost 70 years later she and her husband – a composer and broadcaster who goes by the name Karel Janovický – are still together.
One of the greatest British novelists of the 20th century, Graham Greene, is the subject of a new comic book by a French scenarist and a US artist. Translated from the French, the title of the just published book is Prague Coup with some of the key episodes focused on Greene’s short visit to Prague in February 1948 when the communist overthrow of the fragile post war government was underway.
The sometimes incendiary nature of recent Czech history has once again been demonstrated. Lower house of parliament lawmakers have backed a proposal to rename the November 17 holiday which marks the start of the Velvet Revolution in a move which has been interpreted as a victory of sorts for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM).