Until recently Zdeněk Toman was an obscure name to many Czechs. However, his incredible story has now reached a broad audience thanks to an eponymous film about him that was released last autumn. Just this week Toman was nominated for 13 prizes at the upcoming annual Czech Lion awards. I spoke to Martin Šmok, the man who originally discovered his extraordinary story.
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.
This Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of the tragic death of former
diplomat and foreign minister Jan Masaryk.
On March 10, 1948, Masaryk, the son of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, fell to his death from his bathroom window at the palace that is home to the Czech Foreign Ministry, a few weeks after the coup in which saw the Communists take power in post-war Czechoslovakia.
The suspicious circumstances of his death, described at the time as suicide, have never been fully cleared up. Many believe Mr Masaryk did not jump but was pushed from his window, in other words murdered.
Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický paid homage a day earlier, laying a wreath at the foreign ministry’s main building in Prague. Members of the public can visit the commemorative bust of Jan Masaryk at the Černín Palace ministry building on Saturday.
Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of the still murky death of Jan Masaryk. The son of Czechoslovakia’s founder Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Jan Masaryk was foreign minister in the Czech government in exile in the UK and retained that post until 10 March 1948, when he was found dead beneath the window of his second-floor apartment at the Foreign Ministry’s Černín Palace.
Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický paid homage Friday to former
diplomat and minister Jan Masaryk to mark the 70th anniversary his death on
March 10, 1948. Stropnický laid a wreath at the foreign ministry’s main
building in Prague.
Masaryk, the son of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, fell to his death from the palace a few weeks after the communist coup in which they took over power in post war Czechoslovakia. The suspicious circumstances of his death, described at the time as suicide, have never been fully cleared up.
Members of the public will be able to visit the commemorative bust of Jan Masaryk at the Černínský Palace ministry building on Friday and Saturday.
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.
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.
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.