Philosopher Jan Sokol was an MP in the early 1990s, served as Czech education minister and lost in the final round of voting for president in 2003. Barred from studying under the Communists, Professor Sokol came to philosophy via his father-in-law Jan Patočka, an early signatory of Charter 77. In the first part of a two-part interview, he discusses Patočka’s death, the achievements of Charter 77 – which he also signed – and the Velvet Revolution. But our conversation began with Jan Sokol’s family background and his own beginnings.
The Czech government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Helena Válková (ANO) is under pressure after the news site Info.cz accused her of defending laws used against dissidents during the normalisation era, providing an article on “protective surveillance” that she penned with a famous show trial procurator in 1979 as evidence. Mrs Válková told Czech Radio that the accusation was a “horrendous lie”. However, the opposition has called for her resignation and even the prime minister says that the allegations need to be explained.
In this programme, the eighth in our series mapping this country’s history through the radio archives, we start with the dramatic events of the last days of the war in Prague. The radio played a major role in the Prague Uprising, and through the archives we can map how the city liberated itself from the German occupiers. In the two years that follow, the radio archives give us a picture of a Czechoslovakia returning to some kind of normality, but in February 1948 everything changes. We tell the story as it was heard on the airwaves.
Thirty years ago this Christmas, Czechs were in an especially festive spirit – the entire Communist Party leadership had resigned a month before, and in a matter of days a majority democratic parliament would elect Václav Havel as president, bringing the Velvet Revolution to a glorious end. Ahead of the holiday, I spoke to Adéla and Petr Mucha – a historian and theologian, respectively, born into practicing Catholic families under Communism – about their experiences with the “Underground Church”, religious figures active in the dissident Charter 77
In a commemorative ceremony marking 30 years since the fall of the Iron
Curtain, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and Bavarian State
Minister of Finance and Home Affairs Albert Furacker symbolically cut
through a small stretch of the Iron Curtain left for posterity at the
Rozvadov -Waidhaus Czech-German border crossing.
The ceremony was reminiscent of the occasion when foreign ministers Hans Dietrich Genscher and Jiri Dienstbier cut through the barbed wire of the Iron Curtain in the tumultuous days of 1989, reuniting the long-divided nations.
At the ceremony Foreign Minister Petříček spoke about how much damage the isolation of Czechoslovakia had caused and how many people had lost their lives at the Iron Curtain trying to flee to freedom.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and his Austrian counterpart Alexander
Schallenberg met at the Czech-Austrian border on Friday to mark the 30th
anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain.
The commemorative event took place in the Czech village of Čížov, which contains a preserved section of the Iron Curtain fence, and in the neighbouring Austrian village of Hardegg.
The ceremony was also attended by the governor of the South Bohemian region, Bohumil Šimek and Johanna Mikl-Leinter, the governor of Lower Austria.
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
In the first episode of this two-part series we got to know Barbara Day, who first came from England to Prague in 1965 and whose life has been closely connected to this country ever since. She talked about her interest in Czechoslovak theatre, and her involvement with some notable Czech theatres over the last five decades. Azadeh Kangarani continues the story.