The once picturesque village of Libkovice lay nestled in a small valley not far from the hilltop where legend has it the primal Father Čech decided his people would settle in Bohemian. Founded nearly a millennium ago, Libkovice was the last town slated for liquidation after 1989 to make way for coal mining operations. Its residents, together with environmental activists faced off against freshly minted capitalists in an ultimately futile battle to save the village, which lay above a rich seam of coal. But the sad story has one silver lining: the
As Czechs marked the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the return of freedom to the country, streets and squares resounded with the iconic protest songs linked to the Prague Spring and 1989. Songs reflecting people’s hopes in 1968 and the frustration of Czechs following the crushing of the Prague Spring became underground cult hits, going from hand to hand, recorded on the old cassette recorders and played in the privacy of people’s homes. Among them are Karel Kryl’s famous Bratříčku zavírej vrátka (Keep the Gate Closed, Little Brother)composed
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
The Václav Havel library, in cooperation with photographer Pavel Hroch, has recently launched an online exhibition called ‘The Faces of Resistance’. The project presents portraits and texts about 50 people who over a span of many decades stood up to political repression and brutality and who in certain moments displayed courage and a will to freedom.
A book exploring the part played by women in the anti-Communist dissent has
been launched in Prague. Entitled Bytová revolta: Jak ženy dělaly disent
(Apartment Revolution: How Woman Made the Dissent), it features profiles of
21 women who were not afraid to stand up to the Communist authorities in
the normalisation period of the 1970 and 1980s.
Among those who attended the launch were then dissidents Marta Kubišová, Dana Němcová and Kamila Bendová.
One of the organisers of the Women in Dissent project, Marcela Linková, said there was a perception that the women had supported male dissidents but in fact they had carried out the same activities as men.
This year’s Arnošt Lustig Prize has been awarded to Dana Němcová (83), a one-time dissident. The prize is bestowed on somebody judged to have upheld and developed values such as courage and justice and was set up in honour of Arnošt Lustig, the late world-renowned writer and Holocaust survivor. Psychologist Dana Němcová was a Charter 77 signatory and spokesperson and co-founded the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a nominee put forward by President Miloš Zeman for a commission examining who should be recognised as a member of the anti-Communist resistance during the previous regime. Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Zeman’s candidate Karel Srp had done a lot for independent culture under communism. However, he said, public information showed that Mr. Srp repeatedly informed to the StB secret police. Though a court ruled in 2000 that his name had wrongfully been listed in StB records, former members of the pre-1989 underground say he did indeed inform on them to the secret police.
The Defence Ministry has so far recognized 1,350 people who actively fought against the communist regime and are entitled to a special financial contribution from the state as members of the so-called Third Resistance. The law on the Third Resistance, which stipulates the criteria which need to be met for the state to recognize active opposition to the former regime, came into force at the end of 2011. Those who are recognized as having been part of the active opposition are entitled to one-off payments and top-ups to their pensions. So far the Defence Ministry has registered over 4,400 applications and processed over 3,500.