If you’re not looking for it then you’ll probably overlook the rather nondescript building of the Ministry of Industry, near the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square. If, however, you are one of the few who read Prague’s street-side memorial signs, you get the full impact of what the dirty grey, rough-hewn building called Petschek’s Palace means to modern Czech history: “In the time of the Nazi occupation,” it reads, “this building housed the torture chambers of the Gestapo. Fighters for the freedom of our country fought, suffered and died here. We
The National Museum has opened a major new exhibit on St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech lands, who was also one of their earliest and most important rulers. What is particularly significant about this exhibit is that it brings together a collection of the most precious manuscripts and items relating to Saint Wenceslas over the course of roughly 700 years.
German journalist and historian Andreas Wiedemann is the author of a book about the resettlement of the Sudetenland following the expulsion of the German population at the end of World War II. The title translates from German as ‛Come with us to the borderland: resettlement and new settlers in the former Sudetenland 1945-1952.’ Unlike the expulsion, the resettlement has been given scant coverage although the consequences still scar large parts of the country. I asked him why he seized upon the subject.
The National Library is currently holding a special exhibit of the work of the first printing press in Bohemia. The seven original works made by anonymous printers in Plzeň in the late 15th century have been out of the public eye for 34 years. Foremost among them is the Trojan Chronicle, which for more than a hundred years has been at the centre of debate over when Czechs first began printing.
Czech archaeologists are best-known for their work in Egypt, spanning five decades, but some specialists have begun making headlines for excavation work in a different part of the world: Mesopotamia – the cradle of ancient civilisation that is now present-day Iraq. Recently an eight-member team headed by Karel Nováček of the University of West Bohemia, returned from northern Iraq after having uncovered Stone Age tools that were used by either our ancestors or our distant relatives (Homo neanderthalensis). The tools date back some 150,000 years,
The Czech Medical Chamber says it’s drafted an apology to Jewish doctors struck off its books during the so-called Second Republic - the short period between the end of democratic Czechoslovakia and the beginning of Nazi occupation. Long before the Germans invaded, a number of Czech professional organisations started banning Jews from their ranks, motivated by a combination of Nazi propaganda and economic self-interest.
Last weekend Czechs marked the 160th anniversary of the birth of the co-founder of Czechoslovakia and the country’s first president T.G. Masaryk. Although Czechs fondly refer to him as “tatíček Masaryk” or papa Masaryk, there is no doubt at all that they have enormous respect for the statesman and philosopher who in 1918 laid the founding stone of a new state and gave Czechs and Slovaks their first lessons in democracy.
The philosopher, scientist and mystic, John Dee, was one of the great figures of Elizabethan England. He was a close confidante of the Queen and one of the founders of modern science, at a time of transition from the medieval to the modern age – a time when science and alchemy, magic and mathematics intertwined. In the 1580s John Dee came to Bohemia, along with family and his mysterious friend and assistant, the alchemist Edward Kelley – who supposedly possessed the gift of communicating with spirits. Between them, they left an indelible mark on
The fates of Czech soldiers who died abroad during the first and second world wars are being mapped in a newly created War Graves Record. The internet-based project documents more than 1,800 war graves around the world where Czech soldiers are buried, along with information about how and when they died.
Last month Prague hosted a major international conference on the crimes committed by the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe. Delegates from both sides of the former Iron Curtain discussed their research into atrocities that in many cases had been swept under the carpet for decades. To give a couple of examples: how many Europeans today remember that up to 130,000 people were executed in the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia in the aftermath World War II, or that in Romania hundreds of opponents to the Stalinist regime were shot by the Securitate