Czechoslovak Communist leader Ladislav Adamec was a KGB informer, according to the Mitrokhin Archive, a collection of notes by a KGB officer who defected to the UK that is now held at Cambridge University. Under the code name Atos, Adamec, who was prime minister when the Velvet Revolution started in November 1989, figures in a list of KGB informers among the upper echelons of the Communist Party in the then Czechoslovakia, the Czech daily Právo reported on Saturday.
In this week’s Czech History we look at one aspect of the Cold War, the use of secret agents to spy on and disrupt the enemy’s propaganda services. In particular, we focus on the circus that surrounded the return of a Czechoslovak double agent Pavel Minařík 40 years ago in 1976 which was aimed at discrediting the US financed and Munich-based broadcaster Radio Free Europe.
The Czech Academy of Sciences and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian regimes have cooperated on a book just out tracing the fate of the close to 300 people who were killed trying to flee from communist Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. The book published under the heading The Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia is a collection of human interest stories portraying the victims, what motivated them to risk their lives crossing the Iron Curtain and who is responsible for their deaths.
The sometimes incendiary nature of recent Czech history has once again been demonstrated. Lower house of parliament lawmakers have backed a proposal to rename the November 17 holiday which marks the start of the Velvet Revolution in a move which has been interpreted as a victory of sorts for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM).
A series of organisations have called for criminal proceedings to be launched against the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia after it highlighted the “revolutionary legacy“ of February 25, 1948. That was the day when president Edvard Beneš agreed to form a government dominated by the communists after the withdrawal of democratic parties. The move started almost 40 years of one party domination. The comments were made by the party in a press release which added that the former communist regime had not been properly assessed by historians. The demand for criminal proceeds has been backed by the Confederation of Political Prisoners, the grouping Post Bellum, and the Association of Former Political Prisoners amongst others.
The Confederation of Political Prisoners has expressed its outrage at the statement issued by the Communist Party on the anniversary of the February 1948 events, in which the party claimed adherence to the ʻrevolutionary legacyʼ of the Communist takeover. The party said it appreciateed the work and devotion of the generations of the developers of socialism and regretted tragic deformations and deficiencies that harmed the idea of socialism. They also said they had already apologised to all those whose lives were affected by this. The Confederation of Political Prisoners said the Communists could only be excused by dissolving their party. The Communist Party seized power on February 25, 1948, when president Edvard Beneš agreed they could form a new government after members of democratic parties resigned.
Historian and dissident Miloš Hájek died in Prague on Friday at the age of 94. Mr Hájek was a signatory of Charter 77 and eventually became its spokesman in 1988. He was also among the people to attend the now legendary breakfast at the French Embassy in Prague in December 1988 when Václav Havel and other dissidents met the then French president François Mitterrand. In 1995 he was recognised as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his efforts to save people from the Holocaust. He was also awarded a Medal of Merit in 2001 at Prague Castle.
Court proceedings against the Czech Republic have been launched by the European Commission in Brussels. The Commission has launched court action against Prague over the fact that only Czech citizens are allowed to be notaries. It said that there was no cause for such national discrimination and pointed at that the Court of Justice had already delivered guilty verdicts in similar cases. Brussels said it was also monitoring the actions of other states with similar cases.
Participants marched to Prague castle on Thursday to commemorate the events 68 years earlier when around 7,000 students protested the takeover of power by the Communist Party in a move which was to herald 40 years of party dictatorship. Deputy chairman of the Senate, Přemysl Sobotka urged the marchers not to lose their ‘historic memory,’ describing the Communist era as the darkest chapter in Czech history since the Nazi occupation. The Communist Party seized power on February 25, 1948, when president Edvard Beneš agreed they could form a new government after members of democratic parties resigned.
Mene Tekel, a week-long festival focused on the totalitarian regimes of the past, gets underway in Prague on Monday. The festival, now in its 10th year, will focus on meetings with those whose lives were blighted by Nazism or communism and experts on those subject regimes, as well as including exhibitions, film screenings and other events. One of the highlights of this year’s Mene Tekel will be an awards ceremony on Friday at Prague’s Divadlo na Vinohradech theatre celebrating artists who resisted totalitarianism in their work or were persecuted for their beliefs.
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
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Ron Perlman: Cinema is a much bigger art-form than superhero movies represent
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery