My guest for this edition of One on One is Ivan Passer, who this week received a Crystal Globe in Karlovy Vary for his lifelong contribution to world cinema. The president of this year’s festival jury fled communist Czechoslovakia in 1968, after directing what has been voted one of the best Czech films ever made – ‘Intimate Lighting’ is a black-and-white new wave classic telling the story of two friends reunited. In more recent years, Passer has worked in Hollywood, producing movies such as ‘Cutter’s Way’ and ‘Stalin’ to much critical acclaim.
A comprehensive anthology on the Prague Spring of 1968 was presented at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna in Thursday. The two-volume anthology, with 2900 pages, was edited by Stefan Karner of the Boltzmann Institute in Graz, Austria. It contains articles, studies and documents on the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia. The international team of authors was the first to be granted access to the Soviet-era archives in Moscow.
Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the “Two-Thousand Words”, a declaration that was one of the first and most important steps of the national revival referred to as the Prague Spring. The manifesto, which appeared in several publications, posed important questions for the future of democratic reforms in communist Czechoslovakia.
The climate in Prague in the spring of 1968 was one of liberalization and reform. Laws were passed to abolish censorship and cultivate ‘democratic socialism’. As communist Czechoslovakia opened itself up to the West, the USSR looked on with increasing disapproval. On the night of August 20, Soviet-led troops invaded Prague to bring an end to the reforms. Some of the photos of the turmoil that ensued have just gone on display in Prague.
You may not be familiar with the name Josef Koudelka, but there is a very good chance you will know his work. And we’re all sure to see a lot more of it as the August anniversary of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia draws nearer. Koudelka’s striking black-and-white shots of tanks in the centre of Prague and other images from that turbulent period are regarded as some of the most important works of photojournalism of the 20th century.
Writers from all over the world gathered in Prague this week to recall the strange days of 1968. The Prague Writers’ Festival, which was originally set up to promote Central European writing abroad, attracted a larger-than-ever number of authors to the Czech capital – here to recall the Prague Spring of 1968, as well as what they themselves were up to, the year that shook the world.
Czechoslovakia was the last communist country of Central and Eastern Europe to host Soviet troops during the Cold War. They arrived in 1968 as “brotherly assistance” to help keep the communist hardliners in power, and they stayed until the fall of communism 19 years later. One of the top secrets of the military command was the fact that the Soviets deployed nuclear warheads on Czechoslovak territory.
Former Czechoslovak TV journalist Ludmila Sýkorová has published a book on the events that took place in Brno during the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Ms Jankovcová said she attempted an objective approach to the events any compensation were shot dead by the Soviet troops in Brno on August 21, the first day of the occupation, while many more suffered injuries inflicted by the occupation forces.
Monday marks the 60th anniversary of the mysterious death of Jan Masaryk, foreign minister of Czechoslovakia in the 1940s and son of the country’s founder and its first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. On the morning of March 10, Jan Masaryk’s body was found in the courtyard of Černín Palace, the seat of the Foreign Ministry. To this day his tragic death remains unexplained and is one of the great mysteries of modern Czech history.
Thirty years ago Vladimír Remek became the first man in space who was not from either the United States or the Soviet Union. Remek became a hero not in only in his native Czechoslovakia but throughout the Eastern Bloc after taking part in an eight-day Soviet space mission in March 1978. The former cosmonaut spoke to me about his memories of that historic flight – and the propaganda which accompanied it
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague
Film about tragic fate of great Czech actress highlights communist atrocities in the 1950s