Prague City Hall announced on Monday that its representatives had met with Zdena Mašínová and agreed to exhume the remains of her mother, who was imprisoned by both the Nazis and communists and shares the same name. The city is now preparing the necessary documentation after which the exact date of exhumation will be set.
Anyone who is interested in the history of Central and Eastern Europe has likely come across the name Marci Shore. An associate Professor at Yale University, she has published a number of books focusing on the modern history of post-communist countries. She stopped by Czech Radio, while travelling through Prague earlier this week, and I started by asking her about the impact that Nazism and Communism had on the region and the psyche of its people.
General Milan Píka, whose father also held that rank and was executed following a Communist Party-orchestrated show trial, has died at the age of 96. Himself punished on false charges, the World War II veteran nonetheless managed to rise to the top of the Czechoslovak military – and eventually clear his father’s good name.
Twin sisters Jitka and Květa Válová, named “Dames of Czech Culture” in memorandum this week, were once described by a Communist zealot as an “ulcer on the red face of Kladno”, the industrial Bohemian city of their birth. They rejected the dominant Socialist Realism aesthetic of the 1950s, preferring more abstract and expressive work, long sealing their pariah status. They responded by turning their shared home and atelier into a salon for free thinkers.
On February 25 1969, exactly one month after Jan Palach, another man set himself alight in protest to Czechoslovak apathy following the Soviet invasion of 1968. The name of the second human torch was Jan Zajíc, a high school student from Šumperk. Fifty years on his act still brings chills of shock, but also respect among Czechs.
A travelling exhibition on the life and legacy of Jan Zajíc, who set
himself on fire to protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet
led-invasion in 1968, opened in his home town of Vítkov on Friday.
Zajíc set himself on fire in a passage off Wenceslas Square on February 25th 1969, close to the place where student Jan Palach made the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to rouse the nation a month earlier.
Zajíc, who felt that further protest actions were needed, set himself on fire on the 21st anniversary of the communist putsch in 1948.
The exhibition of texts and photographs reflecting his life and legacy will travel around the country in the coming months.
Which Central Europeans are most likely to believe conspiracy theories? Which are most nostalgic for the communist regime or pro-NATO? The answers may well surprise you, say researchers at Globsec, a Bratislava-based think-tank focused on security and sustainability in Europe. Katarína Klingová and Miroslava Sawiris, two of the co-authors of the Globsec report “Generation Trends”, spoke to Radio Prague about what the data reveal about the complexity of regional perceptions of geopolitics. I began by asking them about orientation – East or West?
Though forced to live in exile for most of his life, the world-renowned pianist Rudolf Firkušný maintained strong Czech traditions at his home in the United States. Indeed, his daughter Véronique Firkusny’s mother tongue was Czech and today she translates leading authors from her parents’ homeland and helps opera singers get to grips with Czech-language works. When we spoke in New York, I first asked Véronique Firkusny how her father had viewed the situation in his native country following the Communist takeover of 1948.
Until recently Zdeněk Toman was an obscure name to many Czechs. However, his incredible story has now reached a broad audience thanks to an eponymous film about him that was released last autumn. Just this week Toman was nominated for 13 prizes at the upcoming annual Czech Lion awards. I spoke to Martin Šmok, the man who originally discovered his extraordinary story.
Otakar Dušek is a designer and artist with a passion for history and historical justice – something he hopes to instil in his students at the prestigious Václav Hollar School of Art in Prague. That passion helped propel him from a teacher of graphic design, fonts and computer graphics to world renowned medallist – an artist specialising in commemorative medals.
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