Václav Havel’s relationship to the United States is the focus of the recently issued book Havel v Americe (Havel in America) by historian Rosamund Johnston and journalist Lenka Kabrhelová. Mainly based on Q&A-style interviews, it contains insights and anecdotes from Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, both presidents Bush and a host of others and is the first publication to concentrate on the subject. When I met the authors, I first asked Johnston about the genesis of Havel v Americe.
A unique festival dedicated to Gustav Mahler and later Jewish composers interned by Nazi Germany in a north Bohemian ghetto gets underway this Sunday. Organised by the Eternal Hope foundation and the Terezín Composers’ Institute, the aim is to celebrate the work of brilliant composers whose lives were cut tragically short.
Several hundred people, including war veterans, politicians, foreign
diplomats, church dignitaries and cultural figures gathered at Terezín
National Cemetery on Sunday to pay homage to victims of the Holocaust.
Speaker of the Senate Jaroslav Kubera warned against indifference, apathy and disinterest in public affairs, saying that these traits created conditions for authoritarian and later totalitarian regimes.
Between 1940 and 1945, close to 200,000 people, mostly Jews, passed through the Terezín ghetto on their way to Nazi extermination camps; 117,000 of them did not live to see the end of the war.
At a ceremony marking the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO twenty years ago, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček handed out medals of merit to 14 people who assisted the country in preparing for membership and meeting its new obligations. The laureates included key players on the international scene at the time as well as Czech diplomats and military officials who worked hard to make it happen.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček handed out Medal of Merit awards
to 14 people who assisted the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO 20 years
Among the laureates was the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who was a leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to central Europe, former NATO secretary general Javier Solana and his successor in the post George Robertson, officials who headed NATO at the time of the country’s admission and during its first years in the alliance.
On the home scene, the awards went to the former foreign ministers Jaroslav Šedivý, Jan Kavan and Karel Schwarzenberg, former defence ministers Vladimír Vetchý, Alexandr Vondra and Luboš Dobrovský as well as former army chiefs of staff Jiří Nekvasil and Jiří Šedivý.
Twenty years ago history was made in Independence, Missouri. Three post-communist countries officially entered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were the first former members of the Warsaws Pact to join NATO. Why was the small US Midwestern city selected as the best place for the main official event on that significant day?
Twenty years ago this Tuesday, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary became the first former Eastern Bloc countries to join NATO, with Slovakia entering five years later, when all four joined the EU. The anniversary will be marked with pomp and circumstance, honours for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and debate over how to face new threats to collective security.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is in Prague to mark the
20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO. She was a
leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to
In the coming days, the Czech-born Albright will take part in various events marking the anniversary and discussing NATO’s legacy and current role. She will also present her latest book, Fascism: A Warning.
On Monday, Albright is due to hold a public discussion with former diplomat Michael Žantovský at the Law Faculty of Charles University.
On Tuesday, the anniversary of Czech membership in NATO, she will take part in an international forum at Prague Castle. She is among 14 people who will receive the new Medal of Merit Award for Diplomacy handed over by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček .
In 1941, Nazi Germany turned the centuries-old Czech garrison town of Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp. Over the next few years, some 155,000 people were held there in desperate conditions awaiting transport to the death camps further east. And yet, there was a well-documented flourishing of cultural life in the ghetto. Many artists also risked their lives to depict the harsh reality of daily life. But this is a story of the traces left behind by more ordinary people who endured those extraordinary times.