Czech President Miloš Zeman has expressed full backing for British Prime
Minister David Cameron’s EU reform efforts. He made the statement while
welcoming Mr Cameron for a private meeting at Prague Castle. Earlier on
Friday, the British prime minister met with his Czech counterpart Bohuslav
Sobotka to discuss EU reform and other issues. Mr Cameron also took the
time to lay a wreath at a memorial site at Prague’s Klárov - honouring
Czechoslovak airmen who served in the RAF during the Second World War. The
Czech News Agency suggested that Prime Minister David Cameron would also
still meet with representatives of the opposition Civic Democratic Party
– partners of the British Conservative Party at the European level.
Czech Radio reported Friday that the Czech side will be seeking a end to a British veto on the sale of Czech L-159 planes to Iraq. Some of the radar technology on the plane is British-made and UK authorities are reported to fear it falling into the wrong hands.
Hana Ludikar is one of the few surviving members of the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Association, a group remembering the Czechoslovaks who fought with Britain’s RAF during WWII that was co-founded by her late husband Marcel. In this special programme, she tells us all about a life deeply impacted by the events of modern Czech history.
The Gulag Online Museum presenting a 3-D reconstruction and virtual tour of the former Soviet labour camp system will be launched by the Czech association Archipelago in March or April of 2016, its head Štepan Černoušek has told the Czech News Agency. The aim of the project is to allow internet users to learn more about the infamous system and specific sites on the internet. The organiser said that while most people knew the names of Nazi concentration camps, and that museums had been built at sites annually visited by hundred of thousands of people, the names of Gulag labour camps such as Pechora, Kolyma, Norilsk or Yermakovo were far less known. He added that no museum had been built at the locations so far.
Four people who fought Nazism were honoured with the Memory of the Nation Award at a ceremony at Prague’s National Theatre on Tuesday evening. The prizes went to Anna Hyndráková, the only member of her family to survive the Nazi concentration camps; Lýdia Kovářová, who along with her family helped hide a resistance group; Branislav Tvarožek, who also aided the resistance and fought in the Slovak National Uprising; and Viktor Wellemín, who fled with his Jewish family to Palestine and joined a Czechoslovak unit that fought in Tobruk and was later injured in Dunkirk. The awards are presented every year by the civic association Post Bellum.
The town of Kroměříž on Monday unveiled a plaque in honour of Kroměříž-born airmen who volunteered and fought in the RAF during World War II. The pilots Svatopluk and Zdeněk Bachůrek, gunners Miloslav Eugen Mikulík and Karel Valach, and RAF ground crew member Ladislav Ševčík are those honoured. The ceremony was attended by town and army officials, relatives, WWII veterans, and local residents and saw a flyby by two JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets.
Karel Weirich is perhaps an unfamiliar name to most Czechs and to most of the world. Yet this modest man contributed in large part to keeping the world informed about the plight of Bohemia and Moravia under Nazi occupation. And he also helped to save the lives of hundreds of Jews living in Italy during WWII. The exact number is not known.
In the course of a life that spanned over 90 years, the writer and translator Heda Margolius Kovály survived the very worst that the twentieth century could bring: first Auschwitz and then the anti-Semitic show trials in 1950s Czechoslovakia, in which her husband was sentenced to death and executed. Heda Margolius Kovály died in 2010, but her moving account of her life, Under a Cruel Star, continues to be read widely. She also wrote a second book, a detective story set in Stalinist Prague. The book is a novel – taking inspiration from Raymond Chandler
Visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday met for talks with the Speaker of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáček. They discussed security in the Middle East, the migrant crisis in Europe and bilateral cooperation. Hamáček said Czech-Israeli relations were on an excellent level and the two countries could collaborate in a number of spheres such as defense. Later in the day the Israeli president and his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman paid homage to Holocaust victims at the National Cemetery in Terezin and attended the opening of an Israeli-Czech business forum.
Preparations are being completed for a conference in Prague later this month focused on journalist Karel Weirich, who was a correspondent of the Czech New Agency in the Vatican and Italy and saved the lives of 200 Czechoslovak Jews during WWII. The conference takes place on October 26, two days before Weirich is set to receive the state honour the Order of the White Lion in memoriam. A recently published book has brought attention to the reporter, who was himself imprisoned for his activities helping Czechoslovak Jews interned in Italy.
A mass public drum session to remember the first Jewish transports from Prague on 16 October, 1941 was held in the Czech capital on Friday. The event took place at the former Bubny railway station, from which around 50,000 people were sent to their deaths. Called Drumming for Bubny, it was organised by the Memorial of Silence and DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.