After the communist coup, Czechoslovak Radio was at the political vanguard and transformed into a tool of propaganda. One of the first big changes at Radio Prague was that our familiar call signal from Dvořák’s New World Symphony was replaced by a stirring socialist anthem – “Ku předu levá”. The words are simple: “Left foot forwards, left foot forwards, and never a backwards step.” All broadcasts acquired a political hue. Here, for example, is a factory worker, talking about his first love:
It’s a story that has rocked the Czech literary world to its foundations, and now the man at the centre of it has spoken to the media for the first time in 25 years. Milan Kundera, arguably the best-known Czech author writing today, broke his silence to categorically deny allegations he informed on a suspected western agent in 1950.
The activities of Czechoslovak armed units on the side of the Allied powers during World War I helped Czechs and Slovaks win consent to form their own state when the conflict ended in 1918. The legions that had been fighting in Russia, however, became embroiled in that country’s civil war, and didn’t get home until two years later. Their fascinating story is the subject of a new exhibition in Prague.
It took 60 years but the Kumpera family will now be given back the Baroque Koloděje Chateau, confiscated by the state in 1948. On Monday the Prague Municipal Court rejected a final appeal and upheld a ruling from earlier this year which said that the property had been unfairly seized. Now nothing stands in the way of the property being returned its rightful owners.
The Czech writer Milan Kundera is regarded as something of a modern-day national treasure – despite the fact that he has lived outside of the Czech Republic for decades. But the author of such books as The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Joke has now been accused of reporting a young soldier to the communist authorities – something that led the man involved to be imprisoned.
“I’m now going to write down some of the things which have happened over the last few days. I’ve got such a short memory, I’m afraid, and this is a way of making sure that I don’t forget.” These are the opening lines of a diary that was written in 1945 by a young woman as she gradually emerged from the hell of the concentration camps, hoping, against the odds, to see her husband again. The woman’s name was Hana Pravda, and she died in London on May 22 this year at the age of 92. Hana spent much of the second half of her life in Britain, where she
Many people in Czechoslovakia greeted the communist coup of February 1948 with enthusiasm, in the belief that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to happen again. But following the model of Stalin’s Soviet Union, it was not long before a period of political terror began, with thousands of arrests and then a series of political show trials. The most horrific symbol of the period was the trial and execution of Milada Horáková. She had been one of the most enlightened politicians of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic, a champion of democracy
A number of hugely important historical moments have been remembered in the Czech Republic this year: the communist takeover of 1948, the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, and the signing of the Munich agreement in 1938. But there is also one anniversary that Czechs can mark with pleasure – the foundation of Czechoslovakia 90 years ago, on October 28th 1918. Among the institutions marking that day is Prague Castle, which has organised several events.
The oldest Czech record label Supraphon has a new owner. The music publishing company, part of the Bonton entertainment group, was sold last week to Czech industry tycoon Miloš Petana. The new owner also acquired the publisher’s extensive archives containing more than 100,000 recordings made throughout the 20th century.
The Czech national airline ČSA is celebrating its 85th birthday this Monday. Today, the carrier flies to destinations spanning from Athens to Zagreb, and ranks amongst the Czech state’s most valuable assets, but what about back when it first began? Company spokesperson Daniela Hupáková describes the airline’s humble beginnings: