Internationally the Czech writer Karel Čapek is best known as the inventor of the term “robot” in his 1920 play R.U.R. With his novels, stories and plays combining humour, satire and a strong humanist vision, Karel Čapek was hugely popular in pre-war Czechoslovakia. But this was a time when Hitler’s Germany was casting a dark shadow over Central Europe and it is hardly surprising that one of the few recordings of Čapek in our archives - speaking on Christmas Eve 1937 - does not bear a cheerful message.
Today in Mailbox: Some more reactions to the end of shortwave broadcasts, "propaganda" on Radio Prague, last month's mystery Czech and a brand new quiz question. Listeners quoted: Mohamed Elsayed Abd Elraheim, Jim Mickeal, Richard Howard, Mogire Machuki, David Eldridge, Michael A. Daley, Bob Boundy, Hiroyuki Okada, Hans Verner Lollike, Colin Law, Charles Konecny.
When Harry Pollak left Czechoslovakia for France in the autumn of 1938, he had no idea what the future would hold for him. As a teenager, he joined the exile Czechoslovak army fought the Nazis who murdered his family, before fleeing his country again after the communist coup of 1948, and build a career in England from scratch. Mr Pollak gives an account of his extraordinary life in his recently published memoirs. In this edition of Panorama, we talk to Harry Pollak about how a boy from a south Bohemian village ended up saving the famous British
It is often noted that the Czech Republic lies in the heart of Europe; what then lies at the heart of the Czech Republic? Well, there are pastures, woods and hills, a history of war and conquest, a strong musical heritage, excellent lager and a small town called Polička, where all of the above can be experienced.
Czech film director Otakar Vávra celebrated his 100th birthday on Monday. In his extraordinary career, Mr Vávra made over 50 movies, enjoyed by audiences in all of the regimes Czechs went through in the 20th century. But there was often a price for being able to make films even under the most difficult circumstances; a price Otakar Vávra was always willing to pay.
The Czech Republic is preparing to mark the 60th birthday of the launch of Radio Free Europe broadcasts in Czech across the Iron Curtain to Czechoslovakia. The broadcasts were a key factor in telling people under communism not only what was really happening in their own country but also keeping them up to date about events in the West.
The theme tune for this series is from a song called Aesop and the Ant, and it was composed by one of the legends of twentieth century Czech music. Jaroslav Ježek died in wartime exile in New York at the age of just 35. He is best known for the songs he composed for the famous pre-war satirical cabaret, the Liberated Theatre, and he was also one of the pioneers of Czech jazz, fearlessly crossing the borders between popular and classical music. In November 1934, the young composer – he was 28 at the time - came into the radio and talked about
Petr Hlaváček is a man with a passion for shoes. The dean of Zlín’s Bata University knows the technology of shoe-making inside out. He has reconstructed shoes worn by Oetzi the Ice Man 5,000 years ago and is working on the latest technologies for shoes intended to help diabetic patients, among many other projects. So when Czech experts studied the contents of the St Maurus reliquary said to contain the remains of John the Baptist –among them a small piece of a leather sandal which may have been his – it was only natural that they should turn to
Prague is remembering the long winter of Communism this week with an unusual multi-media festival called Mene Tekel. Hebrew for ‘the writing on the wall’, the festival – now in its fifth year - bills itself as ‘an international festival against totalitarianism, evil and violence’. Films, concerts, exhibitions and even reconstructions of Stalinist show trials are on hand in what the organisers say is an attempt to preserve the memory of the nation.
Tucked away in the highlands, far from the main roads in the forests between Bohemia and Moravia, lies the town of Žďár nad Sázavou. It is now an industrial town spotted with ugly prefab high-rises but on its northern edge, it boasts one of the gems of Baroque architecture, the UNESCO-listed church at Zelená Hora, as well as an ancient monastery that once gave rise to the whole town.