People in Brno on Sunday marked the 80th anniversary of the burning down of
the Moravian capital’s Great Synagogue shortly before Adolf Hitler
arrived in the city. Around 100 people laid flowers and lit candles at the
spot where the synagogue had stood on the corner of the streets Spálená
The building was completed in 1855 and had a capacity for over 1,000 worshippers. It was burned down on the night of March 17, 1939 by Brno Nazis, evidently as a “gift” to Hitler, the Czech News Agency wrote.
Eighty years ago today, on March 15 1939, Hitler gave Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha a stark choice: accept becoming a protectorate or face destruction. After Hácha reluctantly agreed to give up his country’s independence the German army started moving in. It was the beginning of six long years of occupation.
People across the Czech Republic are commemorating the anniversary of the
occupation of Czechoslovakia by Hitler’s Germany on this day 80 years
ago, which was followed by the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia
and Moravia, which many see as the darkest six years in modern Czech
Among the most important events is a remembrance act taking place on Hradčanské náměstí attended by representatives of the Czechoslovak Legionaries Association and the Ministry of Defence. In the Senate, Czech and Slovak historians have gathered for a special conference focused on the year 1939 and the events leading up to the end of inter-war Czechoslovakia.
Meanwhile, Czech Radio is running a special day long, minute-by-minute broadcast service dedicated to March 15th 1939.
Bells in Czech churches, town halls and other historic buildings will ring
out on Friday evening from 6:00 to 6:15 on the occasion of the
International Day of Peace.
In Europe, the Czech Republic and more than a dozen other countries will ring bells simultaneously to commemorate the end of World War I a century ago, and the start and end of the Thirty Years’ War in the year 1618.
A new bell named after the late president Václav Havel arrived at Prague’s St Havel’s Church on Friday. The bell was cast on the occasion of what would have been Václav Havel’s 80th birthday by the renowned Austrian Bell foundry Grassmayr in Innsbruck, a city where Mr Havel underwent acute surgery in 1998. The money for the bell was raised by the Charter 77 Foundation. The bell will be displayed in the church until March 5, when it will be consecrated.
Foundation Charter 77 has started raising money for a bell to honour the late president Václav Havel on the fifth anniversary of his death in December of this year. The Bell for Havel project will send thirty small bells around the world bearing a message of remembrance and gratitude. They will eventually return to Prague to be sold in an auction. The money raised, together with contributions from individuals, will be used to cast a bell named Václav which will be placed at the Church of St. Havel in downtown Prague. I asked Evžen Hart from Foundation
The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saint Charles the Great in Prague is set to get new bells on Saturday. The bells have been dispatched to Prague on a boat from Roudnice nad Labem. They are set to arrive in the capital at around 4 p.m. The church has been without bells since World War II, when they were confiscated by the authorities. The bells, called Virgin Mary, Charles the Great and Albert the Great, were manufactured in Poland. Their production was financed by church collection and private donations.
Among the many Christmas events underway in Prague at this time of year is an exhibition of nativity scenes and bells at Bethlehem Chapel in the city centre. Hidden deep in the bowels of the chapel, the exhibition is light years away from the bright lights and bustling city life above. Everything on display is hand made –from wood carved nativity scenes to Christmas decorations made of lace – and it transports visitors to the Christmases of days-gone-by. My guide around the exhibition Hanka Drahošová says this is the place to come for the real Christmas
The six months leading up to the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939 were a strange period. After Germany, Poland and Hungary had annexed over a quarter of the country’s territory as a result of the Munich Agreement in September 1938, it was hard to see how the rump Czechoslovakia – the so-called “Second Republic” - could keep going. But Radio Prague’s shortwave broadcasts continued, and not surprisingly they focused on sustaining the much shaken international confidence in the country. Here is the famous Czech professor and scholar