This week marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Plzeň and West Bohemia by General Patton's Third Army. In a special programme to mark the anniversary, Rob Cameron travelled to the spa town of Konstantinovy Lázně, former headquarters of the US Army's 16th Armoured Division, where he spoke to George Thompson - a veteran of the fighting in West Bohemia, Charles Noble - son of the commander of the 16th Armoured Division’s Combat Command B, and George Patton Waters, grandson of the legendary General George S. Patton.
They are the country’s unsung war heroes: thousands of men and women who fled Nazi-occupation to serve in foreign armies during the Second World War. Those who returned to communist Czechoslovakia after the war were branded enemies of the state, those who stayed away were given no credit, unless they had fought alongside the Soviet forces on the Eastern front. Historians are now working on an internet project which aims to map the fate of some 83 thousand Czechs and Slovaks who fought against Nazi oppression in different parts of the world.
Public broadcaster Czech TV will screen a documentary film on Thursday entitled Zabíjení po česku, or ‘Killings Czech style’. It features unique footage of a massacre of over 40 ethnic Germans that took place in Prague in May, 1945, shortly after the end of the war. The authors say they want to draw attention to the atrocities committed on German civilians in post-war Czechoslovakia, though some historians believe this particular murder was carried out by Soviet troops.
Wednesday is the 65th anniversary of the start of the Prague Uprising, when thousands of people took to the streets in an attempt to liberate the city from Nazi occupation, just days before the arrival of the Red Army. Several events have been held to mark the date, including a memorial at Czech Radio, which made a dramatic call on citizens to fight the occupiers on the morning of May 5, 1945.
If you had been listening to Radio Prague back in the late 1930s, it is very likely that you would have heard the voice of Ivan Jelínek. He was one of the pioneers of broadcasting in Czechoslovakia, and an early presenter of our broadcasts to Britain and North America. From the radio headquarters here in Vinohrady, he witnessed many of the dramas leading up to World War Two, including moment of the German occupation itself. During his wartime exile in Britain and in the decades that followed the war, Ivan Jelínek became a familiar voice in the
One of Prague’s best known German-language authors was Egon Erwin Kisch, who was born in the Czech capital 125 years ago this Thursday. His excellent style and original choice of stories, together with his dramatic life, earned him a reputation of the ‘Raging Reporter’ that is still very much alive today.
The authorities have examining claims by a former intelligence agent that a fatal explosion in 1984 was the work of the communist secret police, the StB. Twelve people died when a gas mains exploded in the town of Třinec. The agent claims the whole thing was a secret police plot aimed at discrediting dissidents around Václav Havel, but historians and police are sceptical.
Prague has just seen the opening of a new and rather unusual tourist attraction – a former secret police observation post recently discovered at the top of a bell tower in one of the city’s gothic churches. For just under four decades – from the 1950s to the 1980s – the tower was home to a detachment of communist secret policemen who’d spy on the foreign embassies below. Rob Cameron climbed to the top to have a look.
The legendary Big Band of Czech Radio is celebrating 50 years of its existence. The history of the band goes back to the 1960s, when it was called the Czechoslovak Radio Orchestra. Over the years, the band cooperated with most of the country’s best known jazz and pop musicians. On Wednesday it will celebrate its anniversary with a concert at Národní Dům in Prague.
The imposing Teplá abbey complex is sited around a dozen miles from the spa town of Mariánské Lázně, in western Bohemia. Its story is one of an enterprising religious community that was the main force in developing the whole region, its destruction under Nazism and then Communism and its tentative comeback today on the back of tourist income.