50 years ago on Saturday, the Communist Party in Moscow fell silent as Nikita Khrushchev took the podium at the 20th Party Conference to deliver his famous "Secret Speech". This monumental attack on Stalin's brutal rule had a great impact on many countries of the Soviet Bloc, and was the beginning of the end for hard-line Stalinism in many countries. Chris Jarrett takes a look at how Czechoslovak society reacted to this political shift.
This week Rob Cameron's guest is Ivan Havel, younger brother of the Czech Republic's former president Vaclav. While no means as famous as his older sibling, Ivan Havel is an important figure in the Czech academic community, as well as the editor-in-chief of the prestigious science magazine Vesmir. During communism Ivan invited dissidents and academics to his apartment overlooking the River Vltava, meetings at which Vaclav Havel was often present. But Ivan shied away from politics after 1989, choosing instead to stay in the world of science and
It was just at this time of year, 37 years ago, that an unknown 20-year-old Czech student overnight became a focus and symbol of the nation. His name was Jan Palach, and at the top of Prague's Wenceslas Square, just below the National Museum, you can find a small memorial to him. On 16th January 1969, Jan Palach dowsed himself in petrol and set himself alight on the square. It was a desperate attempt to reverse the gradual process of demoralization that set in when Soviet-led troops crushed the reforms of the Prague Spring, five months earlier.
In today's special edition of Mailbox we read from listeners' letters dedicated to the memory of Jan Palach, a Czech student who burned himself to death on January 16, 1969 in Prague, to protest against the lethargy that prevailed in Czechoslovak society in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion in 1968. We quote from letters sent by: John Murphy, Jamie Marshall, Leslie Farmler, Jan Lea, Tom O'Neill, Trevor Bunn, Craig, Lana, and Alessio Pagnucco.
November 7th had a very special place in the calendar of communist Czechoslovakia. Preparations started well in advance to mark the Soviet National Holiday, which was the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, and celebrations would go on for another thirty days, known as "The Month of Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship". The young generation of Czechs are completely oblivious of the holiday but some older Czechs have fond memories of the 7th of November because unlike other communist era holidays, it was actually often fun.
In today's One on One I speak to Nandanie and Asoke Weerasinghe. Both are successful professionals in Alberta, Canada, thanks to their determination and a good education which started with a scholarship to study in Prague. Nandanie studied medicine at Charles University and Asoke engineering at Prague's Technical University. Prague is where they met; they eventually went on to complete their studies in Western Europe, emigrated to Canada and finally got married in their home country of Sri Lanka. They came to Czechoslovakia during the big changes
Poland's former Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski has apologised for the role his country played in the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. General Jaruzelski served as Defence Minister in August 1968, when 26,000 Polish troops joined the huge invasion force which crossed Czechoslovakia's borders.
Ceremonies took place throughout the Czech Republic on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. The invasion 37 years ago marked an end to the democratisation process that came to be known as the Prague Spring. Czech President Vaclav Klaus spent part of the day in Brno, where he spoke at the opening of an exhibition of historic photographs and documents from the period.
Victims of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of the former Czechoslovakia may finally win compensation. The lower house of the Czech parliament has approved a bill, now awaiting Senate approval, which would provide compensation to relatives of those killed during the invasion, as well as to those killed, raped or injured by Soviet or Warsaw Pact troops who occupied the country until 1991.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
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Unions: Strike Wednesday will hit most Czech schools