Whether it was in the show trials of the 1950s or reporting from the Middle East, an undercurrent of anti-Semitism was present in the communist propaganda apparatus in Czechoslovakia. At least that is what a new website aimed at teachers in secondary schools and just released by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes reveals.
The late Sir Nicholas Winton saved the lives of 669 children, most of them Jewish, when he organised for them to leave Czechoslovakia for his native UK on the eve of WWII. His daughter Barbara Winton has told his remarkable story in the book If It's Not Impossible...: The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton and in July discussed what drove him and much more at the Melting Pot forum at Colours of Ostrava music festival, which is where I caught up with her.
Central Europe abounded in thriving Jewish communities for many centuries. They were frequently a target of official discrimination and had to try very hard to carve out their place in societies that were often hostile to their culture and religion. But there are many examples of peaceful coexistence of the Jewish diaspora in the predominantly Catholic Czechia. One of them can be found in the heart of the Highlands region.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, has
filed a lawsuit over a pair of theatre plays staged in Brno in May, the
newspaper Lidové noviny reported on Thursday. The joint production of the
plays Our Violence, Your Violence and The Curse included a scene in which
Jesus rapes a Muslim woman as well as a depiction of Pope John Paul II in a
state of tumescence.
Protests also took place at the theatre itself during the plays, which were directed by Oliver Frljic from Croatia.
Cardinal Duka says that the theatre show represented an attack on his rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. He referred specifically to the inalienability of rights, freedom of religion and the right to dignity and honour. The prelate filed the lawsuit as a private individual.
Cardinal Dominik Duka, the archbishop of Prague, has called the incoming
ANO-Social Democrat coalition government’s plans to tax restituted church
property "scandalous" and pledged to sue in court to prevent it
Under a 2012 agreement on compensating churches for property seized by the Communists, over a period of 30 years the churches would receive 75 billion crowns worth of land and property and nearly 60 billion crowns in compensation.
The Communists have conditioned their support for the minority coalition government of Prime Minister Andrei Babiš, which faces a confidence vote on July 11, on its support for the tax.
The traditional pilgrimage festival marking the legacy of Saints Cyril and
Methodius, Greek missionaries who brought Christianity to the Czech lands,
gets underway at Velehrad in South Moravia on Wednesday.
The event, called the People of Goodwill Days, includes a number of cultural events, lectures and is traditionally attended by tens of thousands of believers. It will culminate on Thursday with a national pilgrimage and a celebratory mass.
David Lawson had never heard of Ostrava when, fifteen years ago, his London synagogue received a Sefer Torah that had belonged to a once vibrant community in that industrial city. Now, it’s fair to say, he is an expert on both the history of Ostrava and the key role Jews played in its development over centuries. I asked Mr. Lawson, co-author of the new book “Ostrava and its Jews: Now no-one sings you lullabies”, how it all came about.
In the last edition of Czech Books we featured an interview with Zuzana Justman, who with her older brother and mother survived the wartime Terezín ghetto. Her brother Jiří Robert Pick later wrote a remarkable novel set in the ghetto, under the title “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals”. The book draws richly from his own memories; with an unexpected lightness and humour it tells the story of a teenage boy and the people around him – his friends and the older men sharing a ward with him in the ghetto infirmary. Thanks to Zuzana Justman