The former political regime in Czechoslovakia deemed much of Western culture “damaging” and “ideologically subversive”, but authorities struggled in particular to control the flood of foreign rock ’n’ roll and pop music. State cultural agencies and censors rarely allowed Western bands to perform here or even play their music on the airwaves. But unofficial channels filled the demand – through illegal imports, home-copying networks and ‘magnetizdat’ – do-it-yourself music. At the same time, state authorities sanctioned Western music when sung by Czech
The renowned Czech actress and Charter 77 signatory Vlasta Chramostová has
died at the age of 92. Chramostová appeared in the classic 1969 film The
Cremator, the 1990s movie Sekal Has to Die and in Václav Havel’s film
adaptation of his own play Leaving, among other screen roles. The news of
her death was announced on Sunday by the Czech National Theatre, where she
was a member of the cast for many years.
Vlasta Chramostová was banned from appearing on screen, on TV or on radio following her rejection of the Soviet occupation that began in August 1968. After some short theatre engagements she was restricted to acting in underground productions, often in private apartments, until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
Chramostová was active in the anti-Communist dissent and samizdat publication and was an early signatory of the Charter 77 protest document. In early 1989 she was convicted over her opposition activities.
She said that she had lived three lives: an acting life, a dissident life and a time of returns.
In 1998 President Václav Havel bestowed the Order of T.G. Masaryk on the acting legend for her contribution to human rights and democracy.
The vast majority of Czechs who remember the communist days, say they would
never again queue up to buy goods, according to a poll conducted by the
agency STEM/MARK in connection with the upcoming 30th anniversary of the
fall of communism.
Cues were a regular part of daily life in the communist days, and people stood in line for hours to get goods in short supply or even overnight to buy a colour TV or a car.
Seventy-two percent of respondents over 60 said they would no longer be willing to stand in line more than a few minutes for any kind of goods.
A poll conducted among respondents born after 1989 revealed that only 41 percent of respondents felt so strongly about standing in line. The majority of young people said they could image doing so for something they wanted badly.
In the first of this series we heard the voice of Czechoslovakia’s first President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. His wife Charlotte was American, and thanks to her influence Tomáš became a champion of feminism. Charlotte went on to inspire many women both within Czechoslovakia and beyond and in this programme we hear some of them, speaking in their own words from the Czech Radio archive.
Prague councillors unanimously agreed on Monday to establish a Museum of
20th Century Memory that will focus on the history of non-free regimes in
the Czech lands. The city council is to put the proposal to a formal vote
on September 19.
A total of 30 civic associations and social organizations bringing together former political prisoners, educators and researchers had expressed support for setting up the new museum.
If approved, the museum’s board will likely include historian and writer Jiří Padevět, Post Bellum director Mikuláš Kroupa and historian Petr Blažek of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
On the occasion of the 30-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which
led to the fall of communism in November 1989, the Czech Senate will hold
three conferences, the speaker of the upper house Jaroslav Kubera told
journalists on Wednesday.
These will not only focus on the Velvet Revolution, but two further events that took place during the last two months of 1989 – the canonisation of St. Agnes of Bohemia and the reestablishment of the Czech Scouts movement. According to Senate Speaker Kubera the reason behind organising the three conferences is the current relativizing of the values and heritage of November 17, 1989 and the Senate’s role as a guarantor of the constitutional order.
Events are being held in the Czech Republic marking the anniversary of
August 21 in both 1968 and 1969. Czechoslovakia was invaded by Soviet-led
troops on that date in 1968, while the following year a number of
participants in demonstrations on the first anniversary were killed in
clashes with Czechoslovak security forces.
The main memorial event on Wednesday will take place in front of Czech Radio, which was a focal point of defiance and violence in August 1968. Senior elected representatives and people who lived through that time are expected to attend.
The events of August 1969 are to be marked by a march from Wenceslas Square to Prague Castle organised by the group Million Moments for Democracy.
Dozens of other memorial events are also being held around the Czech Republic.
Exactly a year after the Prague Spring was crushed by a Warsaw Pact invasion, many thousands of Czechoslovaks went into the streets once more to protest their country’s occupation. The subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators, this time by their own countrymen, resulted in hundreds of arrests and even five deaths. It crushed the last vestiges of hope and persuaded the public that “normalisation” was here to stay.
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has launched an
interactive map showing where victims of the 1968 invasion met their
deaths. It details the victims’ names and where, when and how they died
in connection with the Soviet-led invasion between August 1968 and August
The map’s co-creator, historian Milan Bárta, said that while people initially died in big cities, later victims met their deaths on country roads as the result of traffic accidents as soldiers were barred from entering cities and withdrew to the regions.
Link to map (in Czech): https://obetiokupace.dejepis21.cz/
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