25 years ago today, the dissident playwright Václav Havel became the first non-communist president of Czechoslovakia since 1948. Back then, Edvard Beneš had resigned from office in the midst of a communist putsch led by Klement Gottwald. 41 years later, the communists would vote to destroy their own monopoly on power.
In a special programme to mark Czech Statehood Day, I am joined in the studio by Ondřej Matějka, who is the Deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. He has agreed to help me explore some issues related to heraldry, meaning national symbols and the iconography of the Czech people.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected an appeal by Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said at a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft that the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The Czech prime minister countered that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.
Documents and recollections of the head of office and friend of former Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš, Jaromír Smutný, are being prepared for publication, the daily paper Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday. The more than 8,000 documents covering the birth of Czechoslovakia at the end of WWI, Beneš’ exile in London during WWII and communist putch of 1948 have been stored at New York’s Columbia University since Smutný’s death in 1964. Some extracts were published Wednesday, the 130th anniversary of Beneš‘ birth.
The Prague art gallery Mánes is set to reopen after a two-year renovation on Wednesday with an exhibition of works by caricaturist and illustrator Ivan Steiger. Restaurant and office spaces at Mánes are still awaiting building approval, with its operators saying they would like to open the entire complex to the public in the summer. The Functionalist structure hosted the 80th birthday party of President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in 1930, the year it opened with a show looking back at a century of Czech art.
Welcome to our special extended programme marking the October 28th national holiday in the Czech Republic. Ninety-five years ago today, Czechoslovakia declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, becoming an independent state. The so-called First Republic thus came into being, at first under much celebrated president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and subsequently Edvard Beneš, who would witness the country’s dismemberment in 1938 under the Munich Agreement. Although Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia
When Czechoslovakia’s President-in-exile Edvard Beneš spoke in the English industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent on 6 September 1942, it was a turning point in the propaganda war with Germany. This was three months after the Nazis had destroyed the village of Lidice near Prague; many of the men who were murdered were miners or steel workers and in Britain the massacre led to a wave of solidarity with the victims, most markedly among miners. The “Lidice Shall Live” movement that was born in Stoke-on-Trent became the focus of this solidarity, initiated
The Czech Embassy in Washington is on Thursday launching its annual Mutual Inspirations Festival, which this year will remember the life and work of the late Czech playwright, dissident and president Václav Havel. The festival, which runs until the end of October, will include film screenings, concerts, lectures, exhibitions and theatre performances, all of which will have free admission. Previous editions have been dedicated to T.G. Masaryk, Anton Dvorák and Miloš Forman.
Last week Prague hosted an international conference that looked at the role played during World War Two by the London-based governments in exile of occupied countries. These included not just Czechoslovakia, but also many other European countries, including the Netherlands, Poland, Yugoslavia and France. These exile politicians played a complex, sometimes tortuous role in shaping not just the course of the war, but also the political order that followed. David Vaughan reports.
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