Anyone who has ever spent a few days among Czechs in Toronto will have probably heard of Ivo and Jindriska Syptak - one of the most amiable and dedicated couples in the city's Czechoslovak community. In their sixties, Ivo and his wife regularly bring together Czechs and Slovaks, regardless of whether they've been in Canada for three months or for thirty years. As you'll find out, they have remarkable stories too. In Part One: Ivo's parents, Ivo's childhood during the war, and one of the most dramatic escapes from Czechoslovakia ever. In Part Two:
Hundreds of people attended a rally in Prague's Old Town Square on Friday to mark the 57th anniversary of the communist seizure of power in February 1948. Under the very same balcony at which Klement Gottwald announced the communist takeover, the crowd listened in respectful silence as a speaker read out the names of the people executed by the communist regime that ruled this country for over forty years.
The Czech Republic has been marking the 57th anniversary of the communist takeover in 1948. A small crowd gathered in the Prague district of Mala Strana on Friday to commemorate a university student march to Prague Castle in which the students expressed support to then president Edvard Benes on February 25, 1948. The participants of the 1948 march were persecuted under the communist regime, which lasted in the country for forty years following the coup in February 1948.
February 25th of 1948 - the day of the communist takeover in Czechoslovakia- is a day that those who lived through prefer to forget and the young generation usually has no idea what the date is linked to. But Czechs wouldn't be Czechs if they couldn't poke fun at everything - even the dark chapters of their history.
Exactly 57 years ago, on 25 February 1948 the Communists seized power in post-war Czechoslovakia. This marked the beginning of more than four decades of hard line communist rule, brought to an end by the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Czechoslovak Communist leader Klement Gottwald on that fateful day in 1948 announced on Prague's Old Town Square that the resignation of several non-communist ministers had been accepted by the president. Even though the change to a totalitarian system did not happen just overnight, this event was symbolic of the start
A group of right-wing senators have put forward a bill under which political parties would not be allowed to use the word "communist" in their names. Senator Jaroslav Stetina said the group wanted to make the promotion of communist or Nazi ideology punishable by up to five years in prison. He said they did not want to wipe out the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, who are second in opinion polls, but to force them to transform themselves into a modern left-wing party.
European Parliament members from Eastern Europe are calling for a ban on communist symbols such as the hammer and sickle if the European Union decides to outlaw Nazi symbols, such as the swastika. Lawmakers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovakia said that any such ban should also cover communist symbols because of the killings and torture suffered by people in the former Soviet Union and the countries of the Eastern Bloc. The deputies wrote to the EU's Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini to press their demand.
State propaganda was widespread in the regimes of the former Soviet Bloc, where people were constantly bombarded with information on how lucky they were to be living in a workers' paradise. Now, a new exhibition called Power of Images, Images of Power has opened in Prague, which is displaying a collection posters from the 20th century promoting the virtues of the communist system.
Tuesday was the 15th anniversary of dissolution of the dreaded Communist-era secret police, the Statni bezpecnost, or StB. Formed in 1948, the StB's darkest period was the 1950s, when they were notorious for the cruelty of their interrogations. They kept tens of thousands of Czech and Slovaks under surveillance, and in the 1980s employed around 75,000 informers. I spoke to former Senator and presidential candidate Jaroslava Moserova, whose father was kept in solitary confinement by the StB for 12 long months.
Last weekend was the 36th anniversary of one of the most tragic events associated with the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. On 16th January 1969, a twenty-year-old student Jan Palach doused himself with petrol and set himself alight on Prague's Wenceslas Square. It was a desperate protest against the invasion and growing public apathy in the face of the process known as "normalization", as the hardliners gradually regained control. Jan Palach died from his burns three days later, and around the world his sacrifice became one of the
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