We ended the last series of From the Archives at one of the darkest moments in Czech history, when on June 10 1942 the Nazis destroyed the village of Lidice. This was a cruel and arbitrary retribution for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the so-called Reichsprotektor of occupied Bohemia and Moravia. Many people had given shelter to the Czechoslovak patriots parachuted from London to carry out the assassination, and the Nazis took extreme measures to cow the Czech nation into submission.
Veterans, military personnel and politicians turned out on Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary of Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination. After 66 years, the two British-trained Czechoslovak paratroopers who carried out the killing were dedicated a monument at the site where the daring assassination took place. But what took so long?
Czechoslovakia was the last communist country of Central and Eastern Europe to host Soviet troops during the Cold War. They arrived in 1968 as “brotherly assistance” to help keep the communist hardliners in power, and they stayed until the fall of communism 19 years later. One of the top secrets of the military command was the fact that the Soviets deployed nuclear warheads on Czechoslovak territory.
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” The opening sentence of Franz Kafka’s story Metamorphosis is one of the most famous in world literature. But the writer himself will always be something of an enigma. Kafka was born in Prague in 1883 and spent nearly all his life in the city, dying at just 41 in a sanatorium near Vienna. A Kafka symposium was recently held in the Czech capital and one of the most interesting talks was given by the US-born Canadian academic, Anthony
In the first half of the 20th century the Česká národní budova (Bohemian National Hall) was THE Czech social centre in New York, before later sinking into disrepair. Now the building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is receiving a major facelift, and should again be the pride of Czech New York when it reopens its doors later this year. In this edition of Panorama, we’ll be hearing about the past – and future – of the Česká národní budova.
Jaroslav Marvan was one of the most prolific Czech actors of all times with more than 150 film roles and many more theatre acts. He appeared in his first – silent – movie in 1926, and he made his last film in 1973, a year before he died. In this edition of Czechs in History we look at the extraordinary career of Jaroslav Marvan, a theatre and film star before the war as well as in communist Czechoslovakia.
This Monday, Sir Nicholas Winton, the British stock exchange clerk who quietly saved more than 650 Czech Jewish children from the Holocaust and told no one for more than 50 years, turned 99. In Prague, the occasion was marked by representatives of Czech Railways as well as the Film Academy of Miroslav Ondříček in Písek. Together, they announced an ambitious new project called The Winton Train, which will retrace the route of the original Prague-London kindertransport which saved so many. Young filmmakers, inspired by Mr Winton’s deeds, will be
Meda Mládková is a Czech art collector who spent more than half of her life in exile, mostly in the United States. In 1968 she established a collection of Czech art which she brought to the US from behind the Iron Curtain. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Meda Mládková returned to Czechoslovakia and donated her entire collection to the country. I met Mrs Mládková in her museum on Prague’s Kampa Island and started by asking how she became involved in art collecting in the first place:
One of the earliest recordings from the Czech Radio archives features the voice of Czechoslovakia’s first President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, talking to a group of Czech children on the occasion of the tenth birthday of Czechoslovakia in October 1928. The president reminds the children of the principle of “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. “Don’t be afraid of water,” he says. “Wash yourselves with gusto, bathe and swim, take exercise in the fresh air and let the sun’s rays warm you.”