War veteran and RAF pilot Jaroslav Hofrichter has died at the age of 95, the Czech Spitfire Club reported on Tuesday. For close to four years Hofrichter flew with 311 Bomber Squadron of the RAF. The war hero, who received three Czechoslovak War Crosses and a medal for bravery, was later persecuted by the communist regime and relegated to manual labour until his retirement in 1975. Prime Minister Sobotka and Defense Minister Stropnicky expressed their condolences to his family and friends.
A number of memorial events took place on Sunday across the Czech Republic to mark the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II. The main ceremonies were traditionally held in Prague and in the west Bohemian town of Pilsen, which was liberated by US Army. President Miloš Zeman and prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, along with Cardinal Dominik Duka and other politicans and military officials attended a ceremony at Prague's Vítkov memorial and laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Two gripen fighter jets flew over the memorial to mark the national holiday.
Four-day Freedom Celebrations got underway on Thursday in Pilsen to mark the liberation of the city by the US army in 1945. The event started with a reading of the names of Holocaust victims’ in the city centre on the occasion of Yom Ha Shoah, the day of remembrance of Holocaust victims. This year’s celebrations will offer commemorative meetings, military presentations, concerts, exhibitions, as well as meetings with veterans. A Ride of Freedom, including historical Jeeps with war veterans, will cross the town centre on May 7.
A memorial ceremony was held at Czech Radio’s Prague headquarters on Thursday to mark the start of the Prague uprising against years of Nazi oppression at the end of the Second World War. It was a radio broadcast which sparked the rising and the building became the focus for some of the fiercest fighting over the following days in the capital and surrounding countryside.
A new documentary called “Na sever” (“Into the North”) recounts the story of over 300 Jewish teenagers from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, who found refuge in Denmark during the Holocaust thanks to the kindness of hundreds of Danish families. The story was discovered by chance just few years ago by a Czech journalist Judita Matyášová. Now, a Czech Israeli-based filmmaker Nataša Dudinská decided to bring the testimonies of some of these “children” to the screen.
Over the past year and half, the Czech National Library has been carrying out a unique research project documenting books confiscated or dispossessed and brought to Czechoslovakia during World War II or shortly afterwards. Many of the books got lost, while others lay scattered in the archives all over the country for decades. Now, the National Library has uncovered at least part of the collection to map the books’ history and trace their original owners.
Thousands of Jewish writers and musicians found their careers cut short by the Holocaust. Tragically, this was the culmination of a long history of persecution and pogroms in many parts of Europe. Lives were destroyed and in many cases people’s work was lost, forgotten or torn from its cultural and linguistic context. Now a major new project is underway to bring to together some of the shattered fragments of this rich legacy of music and theatre. It will culminate in an international festival, Out of the Shadows, which will take place in several
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.
Two German treasure hunters have claimed that the world famous amber chamber looted by Nazi forces from St. Petersburg during the Second World War is hidden in the cellars of a Czech castle. The claim has been made by Germans Erich Stenz and Georg Mederer that the treasure is hidden at Frýdlant castle in northern Bohemia. They say a now dead witness recounted how lorries brought the treasure there towards the end of the war. The treasure hunters complain their attempts to pursue research at the site has been blocked by the Czech National Heritage Institute and the Czech government. The amber room was a gift to Tsar Peter the Great by the then ruler of Prussia at the start of the 18th century.
During WWII, the London-based Czechoslovak government in exile had only one method of communicating regularly with its people at home: over the airwaves of the BBC. To discuss the content of these programmes, ministers’ broadcasting skills, coded messages to the resistance and much more, I recently caught up with academic Erica Harrison, who has conducted ground-breaking research into the subject. My first question: How much broadcasting did the exile government actually do?