Thousands were jailed and hundreds were executed during the terror of Stalinism in 1950s Czechoslovakia. But, what was it like to be a child whose parents were jailed during those times? Czech American Jana Svehlova knows just what it was like- her father was a political prisoner and she herself has just written a Ph.D dissertation on the issue.
The Czech Centre for Oral History has recently finished collection over one hundred and twenty in-depth interviews with former communists and dissidents. The project is the first of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe and will likely serve as a precedent for other former communist countries. Fifty of the interviews will be published for the general public early next year, while the rest of the material will be made available to academics for further analysis. We spoke to the centre's director, Miroslav Vanek.
Fifteen years after the fall of communism the Czech Republic still has problems coming to terms with the past and many important issues remain highly controversial. Should the communists have been outlawed immediately after the revolution? Has the country made good use of the fifteen years of freedom or have the ideals of the revolution been betrayed? Czech society is still racked by conflict and a special parliament session devoted to the anniversary clearly reflected this state of affairs.
Fifteen years ago to the day student protestors took to the streets of Prague demanding an end to one-party rule, kicking off a process that would quickly - far more quickly than anyone expected - lead to the unravelling of Czechoslovakia's Communist regime. Music, too, played an important role: with the outcome of those turbulent days far from certain, tens of thousands demonstrated on Wenceslas Square, singing the civil rights anthem, 'We Shall Overcome'.
The Cabinet has approved pension bonuses for former political prisoners and labour camp inmates under the communist regime. Meeting on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the protests that led to the fall of communism, the Cabinet approved a directive according to which former prisoners of conscience should in future receive regular bonuses to their pensions, 50 crowns for every month that they had spent in a communist prison or labour camp. According to the Confederation of Political Prisoners the new directive will affect some 6,000 former political prisoners. Those eligible will have to apply for the bonus.
Wednesday is the 17th November - 15 years after the huge demonstrations in Prague that marked the beginning of the end for the communist system in Czechoslovakia. So today we bring you a special programme instead of our usual One on One. In yesterday's broadcast you had a chance to hear the children of former dissidents talk about their lives then and now. Today we talk to two different women who used to be on the other side of the fence - their parents were prominent Communist officials before 1989.
The 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this week has brought back many memories for me. I had lived in Berlin in 1986 and 1987, and in that extraordinary year of 1989 was missing it hugely. I was in London, in debt and in love with my fleeting memories of a girl who had lived in a grey flat in that deeply atmospheric and rather crumbling West Berlin inner suburb of Kreuzberg.
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