This Tuesday marks 25 years since the shock of the Chernobyl disaster, when Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded, sending previously unseen quantities of nuclear contamination into the air. A radiation cloud spread over Russia and Central and Western Europe, with the first reading of the disaster registered more than 1,000 kilometres away in Sweden. To date Chernobyl is still considered the world’s worst nuclear accident, leaving whole villages and cities in the area abandoned. What is less known is that in the early
The Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek is best known today for his hilarious anti-war novel The Good Soldier Švejk. Hašek’s own biography, however, is perhaps just as farcical and action-packed as his most famous book. In this edition of Czech History, we look at the life and times of this world renowned author.
We quite often hear it said that in the run-up to World War Two, no-one quite realized the scale of the threat that Nazi Germany posed in Europe. When Hitler set his eyes on Czechoslovakia, there were plenty of politicians in Western Europe who really seemed to believe him, when he said that the Czech borderlands, the so-called Sudetenland, were his “last territorial claim”. But Czech Radio’s archives show only too clearly, that here in Prague there were also plenty of people who were only too aware of the worldwide menace that Hitler posed. As
The inter-war years are generally seen as a golden age by many Czechs. The first Czechoslovak Republic, which was established in 1918, was one of the world's most successful democracies until its annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938. While the contributions of brilliant statesmen like Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and industrialists like Tomáš Baťa to the success of the First Republic are well documented, it is not so well known that Czechoslovakia at that time had a vibrant free press, which also did much to nurture the country's democratic system. One
One of the most dramatic - but least known - events in Czechoslovak Radio’s history dates back to September 21 1938. This was the day that the government announced that it was willing to succumb to German pressure, and would give up large areas of the country’s borderlands to Nazi Germany. By this time it was clear that Britain and France would not be willing to fight for Czechoslovakia’s territorial integrity, and that to say no would mean invasion. The announcement sent a shockwave through Czech society, and immediately thousands took to the streets
The bustling Dejvice district of Prague is not where you would expect major encounters with prehistory. Just a few hundred metres from the transport hub at Vítězné Náměstí though, archaeologists are sifting through the millennia and finding ever more evidence of the fact that Prague and its environs have always been inhabited. In the case of the dig at Terronská Street, by the enigmatic Corded Ware culture some 5,000 years ago. My guide to the excavation is archaeologist Kamila Remišová Věšínová.
This week we continue our look into the dramatic events in Czechoslovakia just before World War Two. By the summer of 1938, Hitler’s Germany was demanding nothing less than the immediate annexation of the entire Sudetenland – all parts of Bohemia and Moravia with a German speaking majority. The Sudeten German Party had made big gains among German speakers in local elections earlier that year, and the Nazi rhetoric of their leaders was unambiguous.
Prague’s famous astronomical clock known as the Orloj, dating back to 1410 and gracing the tower of the Old Town Hall, is one of the city’s biggest attractions, drawing crowds on the hour every single day. The chimes and a famous procession of apostles (moving sculptures) in the clock’s windows, are a must for any visitor, and are no doubt the subject of countless youtube videos and family photos. But anyone visiting on the Old Town Square these days has been less than lucky and won’t see the famous clock in operation: on Monday it was turned off
Many Czechs are familiar with the old expression Panenko Skákavá, which literally means Jumping Virgin Mary, but few know about the origin of the phrase. Jumping Virgin Mary, or more precisely, the Virgin Mary of Skoky, is the patron of what used to be one of Bohemia’s most famous Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites. In this edition of Spotlight, we visit Skoky, now an extinct village with a run-down Baroque church that once attracted large crowds of believers.