German President Joachim Gauck said in a letter to his Czech counterpart
Václav Klaus on Friday that Germany was aware of its historical
responsibility for the massacres in the Czech villages of Lidice and
Ležáky during World War II. Mr Gauck wrote the letter ahead of the 70th
anniversary of the destruction of Lidice and Ležáky by the Nazis in
retaliation for the assassination of acting Reichsprotector of Bohemia and
Moravia Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, 1942. Heydrich succumbed to wounds
suffered in the attack which was orchestrated by Czech paratroopers.
As a result, Lidice, in Central Bohemia, was obliterated on June 10 and Ležáky, East Bohemia, was burnt to the ground on June 24. In Lidice alone, all 173 men were executed, while most women and children were sent to concentration camps. Some of the children were selected for “re-education” in Nazi Germany. In his letter, German President Gauck wrote that the despicable acts in Lidice and Ležáky filled him with “deep sorrow and shame”, but cited positive ties between Germany and the Czech Republic today as reason for hope. In response, Václav Klaus thanked his German counterpart, saying that he considered the letter a strong statement and positive gesture.
Speaking on the Czech defeat against Russia in the first EURO 2012 championship game on Friday, national coach Michal Bílek said that of course, the Czech squad was very disappointed with their performance. However, he added, now was the time to show strength and character. The team still had a week to improve its standing in the competition. He said that he would analyze mistakes made in the first match; but then, it was time to move on.
Doctors from Prague’s IKEM, the institute for experimental medicine, have succeeded in a unique operation. A young man with a heart tumor underwent heart surgery at the Prague center. His heart was replaced by two mechanic pumps, a type of heart surgery that to date only had been performed once before, in Texas. The patient is in stable condition; the operation was a success.
Some 17,000 men and women participated in a breast cancer awareness march through the Czech capital on Saturday. Among the participants was the well-known actress Aňa Geislerová. According to organizers, the aim of the event was to draw attention to the disease, its risks and means to prevent it. In addition, the march hopes to motivate women to get a breast exam to help reduce the number of cases that are diagnosed too late. Doctors estimate that some 1600 Czech women die of breast cancer each year; some 6000 have their breasts removed due to cancer.
The Czech Republic’s national football team was soundly defeated by
Russia on Friday in the teams’ opening match at Euro 2012. The Russians
were dangerous throughout, building on precision passes and clever plays
that saw them routinely outpace the Czech defense. The Czechs played well
in patches, dominating, for example, in the opening 15 minutes. Still it
was Russia that scored twice in the first half.
The Czechs responded early in the second when Plašil sent a low ball to Václav Pilař who sidestepped Russia’s goalie and put the ball in the net. Soon afterwards, Rosický came close to getting an equalizer but Russian goalie Malafeev stopped his low shot. Russia then regained momentum and added two more to win 4:1.
In related news, the mayor of Lidice, Veronika Kellerová, said she considered the letter a gesture of reconciliation. She said that she was pleased that the German president had written such a letter on occasion of the 70-year-anniversary of the massacre. Others were less positive, such as survivor Pavel Horešovský, who as a child was forcibly removed from the village and sent to Germany for “re-education”. He said that he was waiting for an official apology from Germany to this day.
Czech protesters are taking to the streets on occasion of a European day of demonstrations against the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Protests are set to begin in Prague in the afternoon. Among the organizers of the demonstrations in the Czech capital is the group Anonymous, which opposes internet censorship. The controversial international agreement has come under fire from both internet users and officials. Some believe that it will pave the way for regulations that may censor content available on the internet and infringe upon freedom of expression online.
Prague Museum Night kicks off on Saturday evening. Nearly 40 institutions are participating, with a total of 65 spaces open after-hours for the museum night. The event starts at 7 pm and runs until 1 am; special busses are in operation to bring visitors from location to location. Last year, some 180,000 visitors came out for the open night of Prague museums, which takes place for the ninth time this year.
Lubomír Zaorálek, a prominent member of the opposition Social Democratic Party, slammed TOP 09 Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek on Friday for allegedly provoking confrontation through aggressive, destructive politics. The politician was referring to an incident a day earlier, when Mr Kalousek appeared before demonstrators at a rally in front of the ministry and attempted to speak but was drowned out by the crowd. He was also spat upon by an anti-government protestor. The finance minister labelled demonstrators “cowards afraid to debate issues”. The Social Democrats’ Lubomír Zaorálek criticised the finance minister for – in his words – trying to similarly ‘steamroll’ over the opposition in the lower house.
In related news, retired international Pavel Nedvěd, a member of Czech national squads that finished second at Euro ‘96 and third at Euro 2004, will be one of many fans in Wroclaw cheering on the Czech team. The former player, a VIP guest, signed autographs for football fans in Poland, saying he had gladly accepted an invitation to attend. The legendary midfielder stressed, that he was staying out of the Czech team’s way ahead of the matches, not wanting to interfere. Asked by Czech news website idnes to name the country with the best chance of winning the tournament, the player named Germany, which he said boasted a new generation of exceptional players.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott