Sir Nicholas Winton has been referred to as the ‘British Schindler’. In 1939, as Europe was descending into war, he organised safe passage for hundreds of Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. All in all, Winton saved the lives of 669 children, finding them homes in the United Kingdom. On Tuesday, some of those he saved returned to Prague to take part in a train journey across Europe in his honour. I traveled with them on the first leg of the Winton Train’s journey:
The 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two this week will pass almost unnoticed in the Czech Republic. The reason is simple. For Czechs and Slovaks the tragedy did not begin with the invasion of Poland, but a full year earlier. With the Munich Agreement of September 1938, Britain, France and Italy gave Hitler the green light to annex huge tracts of Czechoslovakia and less than six months later, Nazi troops marched into what was left of the Czech lands unopposed. So how did Hitler get away with bringing a determined and well-defended
Those who have never been to America get their image of the continent from TV, movies, books and other media. It seems that this much has not changed since the New World was discovered and the first news from the continent reached Europe. The National Gallery in Prague has launched an exhibition called “Amerika k sežrání”, or “Savouring America” which presents the New World through 16th to 19th century European prints.
Over the centuries, Prague has hosted many outstanding scientists from across Europe – among them the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. Kepler spent a full twelve years of his life in the Bohemian capital at the beginning of the 17th century and it was here that he carried out some of the most important observations. This week a new museum opens to the public in Prague in the actual house where the astronomer lived 400 years ago.
A memorial ceremony was held at the Czech Radio building on Vinohradská Street on Friday morning, marking the events of August 21, 1968. During the previous night, Soviet tanks had rolled into Czechoslovakia, crushing the Prague Spring reform movement and the hopes of a generation. Czech Radio became a rallying point for resistance to the occupation; thousands of people gathered in front of the building, and bloody fighting ensued.
The German Foreign Ministry wants to acquire Prague’s Lobkowicz Palace, the seat of the German embassy. For thousands of East Germans, the compound was the last stop on their way to freedom in August 1989, two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In exchange for the historic building, German authorities are offering the Czech Foreign Ministry a palace in Berlin.
This week archaeologists revealed they had uncovered a 1,000 year-old mark engraved in an oak tree - the oldest preserved sign of its kind in the world. The exact meaning of the star-shaped mark is not known, although specialists have a good idea it could have been used to designate property. In any case, it is unprecedented for a symbol made a millennium or so ago to have survived to the present day.
“Path of Life” is the name of a new exhibition by the Jewish Museum in Prague marking 400 years since the death of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, a 16th century scholar and teacher, the Chief Rabbi of Bohemia. Today, most Czechs remember him not only for being a wise man and a learned scholar, but primarily for being the legendary creator of the Golem, a mythical deed that earned him the status of a national hero.
In 1947, at the age of 42, Eduard Ingriš had already lived what most would call a full life. He was one of Czechoslovakia’s foremost composers, with several hundred pieces to his name. He had been composing since he was 15 years old, and he was a rich man. His musical “The Capricious Mirror” enjoyed 1,600 performances in Prague, a record untouched even on Broadway. As it turns out though, his life was just getting started.
Few rabbis and Jewish scholars became part of legends of non-Jewish people. But one, Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel who lived in Prague at the turn of the 17th century, has long been part of a Czech national legend which describes the creation of the mythical Golem. The Jewish Museum in Prague has staged an exhibition at Prague Castle to commemorate the life of the great rabbi.