Since the fall of communism, Petr Pithart has been a central Czech political figure. As one of the first people to sign the human rights manifesto, Charter 77, he spent the last years of the communist regime as a political dissident. But as the regime collapsed in November 1989, he shot to prominence – firstly in Civic Forum, which brought together those fighting for an end to one-party rule, and then as the first post-communist prime minister of the Czech part of the Czechoslovak federation. Later he went on to be chairman of the Czech Senate and
Later this year, ABL FM services, a company in charge of a number of Prague’s historic sites, will re-open the bell tower on St Nicholas’ Church, where 20 years ago the Communist-era secret police, the StB, kept a hidden lookout. The cubby-hole with views of Prague’s Malá strana district was used to above all monitor activities outside nearby embassies, especially that of the US.
The assassination in May 1942 of the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, was one of the most dramatic events of World War II. The Czechoslovak resistance fighters parachuted into Prague to carry out the attack later met their own deaths in a church in the city, after being surrounded by Nazi troops. Their brave actions are the focus of an exhibition in the church’s crypt which has now been given a major facelift.
To his many Nobel Prize-winning colleagues, Georg Placzek was a physicist of boundless importance. It was not because of a breakthrough discovery on his part, or because he published widely, but because he tended to be the man with the right wits at the right time. At Los Alamos, New Mexico, on July 16th, 1945, he was the only Czech present for the detonation of the first nuclear explosion – an event he had helped to create.
The city of Brno has made up its mind on a contentious issue: the hammer and sickle on a public monument to fallen Red Army soldiers from the Second World War is coming down. In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the city council decided to end two years of protests and vandalism by removing the still-controversial symbol for good.
The novel “Peníze od Hitlera” (Money from Hitler), is one of the best Czech books I’ve read for a long time, and luckily for English-speaking readers, it has just been published in an excellent English translation by Women’s Press in Toronto. When it first appeared in Czech over three years ago, Money from Hitler caused quite a stir; it won the prestigious Magnesia Litera award, but Czech critics remained divided. Perhaps this is no surprise. The author, 41-year-old Radka Denemarková, chose one of the most sensitive and painful episodes of modern
A new book of oral history, published by Academia, takes a look at the bygone communist era in the Czech Republic from the perspective of ordinary people, that is, those who didn’t have any political ambitions. Compiled by oral historian Miroslav Vaněk and his team, “Obyčejní Lidé…?!,” or “Ordinary People,” provides a fresh take on life under communism.
East Tilbury on the Thames estuary in Essex is a piece of the old Czechoslovakia planted in England. It was here in 1933 that the Zlín-based shoe empire Bata opened its first English plant. As well as the factory, the company also constructed its own small town for workers following the Czechoslovak model. The plant lasted until 2006, but in many respects it is still carries on. The Bata estate and factory have been designated a conservation area. A reminiscence and resource centre was opened in 2002 to serve as a sort of museum and focal point
Prague has a new top class attraction. Well, it’s not actually new new, but it is a mere two months since the Vítkov National Memorial was opened to the public for the first time after a major renovation job. High above the city on the hill between the districts of Žižkov and Karlín, the imposing functionalist structure was completed in 1932. Its main purpose was to honour the memory of the Legions whose bravery in World War I had helped win support for the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia.