In 1947, at the age of 42, Eduard Ingriš had already lived what most would call a full life. He was one of Czechoslovakia’s foremost composers, with several hundred pieces to his name. He had been composing since he was 15 years old, and he was a rich man. His musical “The Capricious Mirror” enjoyed 1,600 performances in Prague, a record untouched even on Broadway. As it turns out though, his life was just getting started.
On July 1, 1991, the Warsaw Treaty was officially dissolved and 36 years of Czechoslovakia’s military alliance with the USSR came to an end. As a consequence, Soviet troops stationed in the country during the 1968 invasion were gradually withdrawn – an anniversary that the Czech NGO Opona is celebrating with a series of events entitled Week of Freedom, starting Monday. Sarah Borufka spoke to David Gaydečka, one of the organizers of Freedom Week about the events planned.
In last week’s From the Archives, we heard how German troops marched into Prague on March 15 1939. The next day, Edvard Beneš, who had resigned as Czechoslovakia’s president in the wake of the Munich Agreement, and was in exile in London, told Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that from now on, he would be leading the resistance against the German occupation. Five months later, war broke out and at the end of 1939 the BBC began its broadcasts in Czech.
The Czech Republic’s oldest continually existing association, the Vltavan Club, has marked its 140th anniversary. Founded by timber rafters fishermen and other people who worked on the river in the Prague district of Podskalí, its original purpose was to assist its members in times of need. Since then, much water has gone under the bridge but on Saturday, the club once again took over the Vltava in the capital to mark its anniversary with a day-long celebration.
This Friday was the 69th anniversary of one of the defining moments of World War II, the destruction of the village of Lidice near Prague by the Nazis on June 10th 1942. Over the next few weeks, the actress Veronika Hyks will be reading from the memories of Jaroslava Skleničková, one of the survivors of the Lidice massacre. David Vaughan introduces the first episode.
An hour and a half's journey south of Prague lies the medieval Hussite town of Tábor. On first arrival, as you step out onto a busy square from the packed train station, the place looks nothing out of the ordinary. But once you pass the bustling high street in the newer area of town, the cobbled and winding paths of the Old Town lined with their quaint houses make this a location where you can feel history at every turn. And indeed history is something of which there is no lack in Tábor.
Lída Baarová was one of the most famous and successful Czech actresses to have ever lived. Her career spanned over 70 years, in the course of which she starred in a whole number of both Czech and German film classics. She even made it into Federico Fellini’s ‘I Vitelloni’ in 1953. But she is perhaps best known for her life off-screen, as one of Czech film’s most unhappy characters. Lída Baarová’s beauty attracted the attention of Joseph Goebbels, and her career - tragically for her - reached its peak in Nazi Germany shortly before World War
The six months leading up to the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939 were a strange period. After Germany, Poland and Hungary had annexed over a quarter of the country’s territory as a result of the Munich Agreement in September 1938, it was hard to see how the rump Czechoslovakia – the so-called “Second Republic” - could keep going. But Radio Prague’s shortwave broadcasts continued, and not surprisingly they focused on sustaining the much shaken international confidence in the country. Here is the famous Czech professor and scholar
One of the highpoints of last month’s Bookworld international book fair in Prague was the presentation of the first George – or Jiří – Theiner Award. Named after a Czech who devoted much of his life to promoting Czech literature abroad and to drawing attention to the corrosive power of censorship, the award aims not just to promote the memory of George Theiner himself, who died just before the fall of communism, but also to support those who continue in his footsteps. David Vaughan finds out more in this week’s Czech Books.