When Joseph Stalin died on March 5 1953, it sent shockwaves round the world. In Czechoslovakia his personality cult had been almost as overwhelming as in the Soviet Union itself. At the time of his death, work was already well under way to build the biggest statue of the Soviet dictator in the world – unveiled two years later in Letná Park. Stalin had a close ally and kindred spirit in the Czechoslovak President, Klement Gottwald, and Gottwald ignored warnings from his doctors in order to attend his friend and protector’s funeral. Before leading
Three major Czech institutions have joined together to launch a unique website called Paměť národa or Memory of the Nation. It will give the public and scholars access to an archive of personal memories of 20th century history, including the horrors of the Holocaust and communist persecution. The materials are gathered by individuals, non-profit organisations and other institutions across Europe and they are accessible to the general public.
Prague witnessed its first major military parade since 1985 on Tuesday, to mark the 90th anniversary of the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Czechoslovakia weathered many storms before finally splitting into two countries in 1993, but the anniversary is still celebrated here in the Czech Republic, although not in Slovakia. The idea to hold a large-scale military parade attracted criticism in some quarters, but seems to have been positively received by the public.
Exactly 90 years have passed since the founding of Czechoslovakia on October 28 1918, a date that is still celebrated as a national holiday in the Czech Republic. In this programme we look at the legacy of Czechoslovakia’s “First Republic”. It survived for just 20 years, brought to an abrupt end with the Munich Agreement of September 1938, followed six months later by the German occupation of what remained of the Czech Lands. During the 40 years of communist rule, the pre-war republic and its founding father, President Tomáš Masaryk, were virtually
This Tuesday marks 90 years since the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak state. To celebrate this important anniversary, the National Museum, together with the Military History Institute in Prague and the Czech Senate, has put together a major new exhibition entitled Republika or The Republic, dedicated to the first twenty years of the new state.
In recent years, for the first time in my life, I actually enjoy going to the bank, and not just because I have developed a rapport with the clerk who one day announced she was my “personal banker”. After a move of flat, I simply transferred my accounts to the most convenient branch – and, what do you know, that branch is housed in a masterpiece of inter-war Czech architecture with a fascinating history.
The early 1950s in Czechoslovakia was a bleak period in the country’s history, but there was also some escape from politics. In 1952 the Summer Olympics were held in the Finnish capital Helsinki and the undisputed hero of the games was the greatest Czech runner of all time, Emil Zátopek. Despite his extraordinary style, with his face contorted, his head and torso swinging, and emitting sounds that earned him the nickname of “the Czech locomotive”, he went to Helsinki having already twice broken the world record over 20 kilometres. His dream at
Early Thursday morning, Brigadier Stanislav Hlučka, a revered Czech pilot who served in the RAF during the Second World War, died aged 88 in a military hospital in Prague. We take brief a look at the life of this much-decorated anti-Nazi resistance fighter, who found himself imprisoned by the communists after the 1948 coup.
Allegations that the Czech writer Milan Kundera informed on a suspected western agent in 1950 have dominated the news all this week, and on Wednesday there was a new twist: an 81-year-old literary translator named Zdeňek Pešat came forward to say it was not Milan Kundera who had gone to the police, but their mutual friend Miroslav Dlask. Earlier this week Milan Kundera broke a 25-year vow of silence to categorically reject the “informer” claims.
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: