In 1946 a secret American operation in Czechoslovakia led to major diplomatic protests. The US authorities had organized a mission aimed at obtaining hidden Nazi documents from a cache in a forest near Prague. However, they had not alerted the Czechoslovak authorities or sought permission – and that led to a real propaganda coup for the country’s pro-Soviet Communist politicians and press.
Wednesday marks 100 years since the establishment of the Czechoslovak branch of the International Red Cross, today known as the Czech Red Cross. It was founded and chaired by Alice Masaryková, the daughter of Czechoslovakia’s first president and a pioneer in the field of social care. Its establishment was officially approved by the president on February 6, 1919.
Today it is largely forgotten by Czechs, but the Czechoslovak-Polish War of January 1919 was a more significant conflict than its few hundred casualties suggest. Although the freshly emerged and confident Czechoslovak state largely got what it had wanted out of the war, the subsequent border, coupled with memory of the conflict, contributed to an uneasy relationship that prevented much needed cooperation during the rise of their mutual nemesis in the 1930s. I spoke to historian Jiří Friedl, from the Czech Academy of Sciences about the war and its
Until recently Zdeněk Toman was an obscure name to many Czechs. However, his incredible story has now reached a broad audience thanks to an eponymous film about him that was released last autumn. Just this week Toman was nominated for 13 prizes at the upcoming annual Czech Lion awards. I spoke to Martin Šmok, the man who originally discovered his extraordinary story.
Otakar Dušek is a designer and artist with a passion for history and historical justice – something he hopes to instil in his students at the prestigious Václav Hollar School of Art in Prague. That passion helped propel him from a teacher of graphic design, fonts and computer graphics to world renowned medallist – an artist specialising in commemorative medals.
In a world still ruled by men, Hana Podolská –later dubbed the Czech “Coco Chanel” –fulfilled her childhood dream – she married a man who loved her passionately and built up a family fashion empire. Her clothes and fashion advice was sought after by the film stars of the First Republic, the wives of rich entrepreneurs and the country’s first ladies. But the communist take-over robbed her of everything she had worked hard to achieve and she died abandoned and forgotten in the harsh normalization years following the crushing of the Prague Spring.
A great many events have been held in the Czech Republic on Wednesday commemorating the 50th anniversary of the self-immolation of Jan Palach. At the launch of an exhibition about the student martyr at the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square, one of the organisers discussed Palach’s legacy – and the high level of interest in him today.
It is not just Czechs who are currently remembering Jan Palach’s radical protest in January 1969 and the impact his sacrifice helped create. The British ambassador to the Czech Republic, Nick Archer, has had a painting by a UK artist – created right after Palach’s death – installed at his country’s historic embassy building in Prague. He explains the background to the acquisition.