In recent weeks, I’ve tried to capture something of the tense atmosphere of the time leading up to the Munich Agreement of September 30 1938, when the British and French Prime Ministers Chamberlain and Daladier allowed Hitler to carve up Czechoslovakia and march unopposed into the Sudetenland. The agreement left the country as a fragment of its former self; not only Germany, but also Hungary and Poland, claimed large chunks of Czechoslovakia’s borderlands. Here is how Radio Prague reported on the final border agreement, reached some weeks after
We quite often hear it said that in the run-up to World War Two, no-one quite realized the scale of the threat that Nazi Germany posed in Europe. When Hitler set his eyes on Czechoslovakia, there were plenty of politicians in Western Europe who really seemed to believe him, when he said that the Czech borderlands, the so-called Sudetenland, were his “last territorial claim”. But Czech Radio’s archives show only too clearly, that here in Prague there were also plenty of people who were only too aware of the worldwide menace that Hitler posed. As
One of the most dramatic - but least known - events in Czechoslovak Radio’s history dates back to September 21 1938. This was the day that the government announced that it was willing to succumb to German pressure, and would give up large areas of the country’s borderlands to Nazi Germany. By this time it was clear that Britain and France would not be willing to fight for Czechoslovakia’s territorial integrity, and that to say no would mean invasion. The announcement sent a shockwave through Czech society, and immediately thousands took to the streets
It was an unforgettable moment in the history of Czech sport. In the 49th minute Petr Svoboda scored the winning goal against Russia in the ice hockey final of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan. The game was commentated live by Czech Radio’s Aleš Procházka, and his ecstatic cry of “Goal!” is probably the best known sports recording in our archive. The Czechs had won gold in what some had dubbed the “tournament of the century”, packed as it was with top NHL players.
Internationally the Czech writer Karel Čapek is best known as the inventor of the term “robot” in his 1920 play R.U.R. With his novels, stories and plays combining humour, satire and a strong humanist vision, Karel Čapek was hugely popular in pre-war Czechoslovakia. But this was a time when Hitler’s Germany was casting a dark shadow over Central Europe and it is hardly surprising that one of the few recordings of Čapek in our archives - speaking on Christmas Eve 1937 - does not bear a cheerful message.
With the following special presentation, Radio Prague ends 75 years of shortwave radio service. As many of you know by now, austerity measures across Czech governmental ministries have forced budget cuts in many sectors, and public broadcasting is one of them. For most of the last century our signal has gone out to six continents, carrying news and information about Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic to listeners all over the world.
If you had been listening to Radio Prague back in the late 1930s, it is very likely that you would have heard the voice of Ivan Jelínek. He was one of the pioneers of broadcasting in Czechoslovakia, and an early presenter of our broadcasts to Britain and North America. From the radio headquarters here in Vinohrady, he witnessed many of the dramas leading up to World War Two, including moment of the German occupation itself. During his wartime exile in Britain and in the decades that followed the war, Ivan Jelínek became a familiar voice in the
The legendary Big Band of Czech Radio is celebrating 50 years of its existence. The history of the band goes back to the 1960s, when it was called the Czechoslovak Radio Orchestra. Over the years, the band cooperated with most of the country’s best known jazz and pop musicians. On Wednesday it will celebrate its anniversary with a concert at Národní Dům in Prague.
For a few weeks just after the fall of communism, Radio Prague went silent. Its days as a tool in the Cold War were over. After huge staff cuts, and with the old communist managers gone, Radio Prague went back on air early in 1990. A new era began for the English Section, and with so many sweeping social and economic changes under way, there was plenty to report about.
In the last years of the Cold War, Radio Prague’s English department was many times bigger than it is today and divided into several sections, devoted to different parts of the world. One of the most important was the Afro-Asian service. Africa was an important Cold War battleground and Radio Prague’s Afro-Asian service was not just telling the people of Africa about Czechoslovakia. It also covered events within Africa itself, following closely the Soviet political line. At one time the department was receiving tens of thousands of listeners’ letters
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