In November 1945, six months after the end of World War II, the units that had taken part in liberating Czechoslovakia began their official withdrawal. Various ceremonies were held, first on November 15, to say farewell to the Red Army troops, who had fought their way in bitter fighting through Slovakia all the way to Prague. Then a few days later, on November 20, the withdrawal began of the American units that had liberated Western Bohemia.
In the last few weeks Veronika Hyks has been reading from the memoirs of Jaroslava Skleničková, an extraordinary story of survival in war. We have now reached May 1945. After nearly three years in Ravensbrück, the women of Lidice are now free, although they still face the trauma of returning home to find that the village has been wiped off the map and that all their menfolk and nearly all their children are dead. David Vaughan introduces the eighth episode.
Without question the town of Kutná Hora in central Bohemia is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Czech Republic, a town with a long and fascinating history. In the 13th and 14th centuries the site became increasingly famous for silver deposits which drew miners and production that would eventually account for as much as a third of all the silver production in Europe.
In last week’s From the Archives we heard about radio’s central role in the Prague Uprising against the German occupation at the end of World War II. Not only did the signal for the uprising to begin come over the air, but the radio also helped to co-ordinate the fighting. It also played a third role. At the time the Red Army was already approaching Prague from the east, and General Patton’s Third Army was in Plzeň just a few dozen kilometres to the west. Many of those fighting in the streets of Prague were untrained and had few weapons, and the
Ahead of the 43-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s invasion by the Soviet Union and her main allies on August 21, a new book offers a hitherto little explored perspective on this traumatic chapter of Czech history. Titled “Invasion 1968. The Russian View”, it explores Russians’ attitudes towards the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia and the trauma that some of the Soviet soldiers involved in it experienced in its wake. Sarah Borufka spoke to the editor, former Russian correspondent for Czech TV Josef Pazderka, about the Russian experience
On the edge of Prague’s Letná plain, overlooking the Vltava and the Old Town, stand several remarkable buildings from the Belle Époque when Prague was hoping to become the Paris of the East. One of these structures is the Hanau Pavilion, a church-like edifice of cast iron and bricks built to demonstrate the dynamic development of Bohemian industry. Today as in the past, its restaurant offers amazing views of the capital.
The death of Ctirad Mašín in the US on Saturday at the age of 81 has reignited debate in the Czech Republic over whether he and fellow anti-Communist fighters, who shot their way out of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, were heroes or cold-blooded killers. While some see their escape as one of the most daring in Cold War history, others say they tarnished their moral integrity through their actions.
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country, and as such, life at sea is not the first thing that comes to mind. But before and during World War I, many sailors from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia served for the Austro-Hungarian Navy, the Imperial and Royal War Navy. An exhibition currently on in the Roudnice nad Labem town museum explores this relatively obscure chapter of Czech history.
“Calling all Czechs! Come quickly to our aid! Calling all Czechs!” It is May 5 1945, and with these words Prague radio appeals to Czechs to join the uprising against the German occupation. This was to be one of the last European battles of World War Two and the greatest moment in the history of Czechoslovak Radio. For some time radio staff had been working secretly with the Czech underground to prepare the ground for the uprising. Their radio appeal marked the beginning of the battle. In the confusion of the following three days with street battles
The name Jaroslav Preiss does not create many ripples when it is thrown out today. Perhaps one Czech in a hundred could identify who he was. But at the birth of Czechoslovakia and in the 1920s and 1930s, Preiss was an economic and business colossus and contributed to making the country into a major industrial player between the wars. Chris Johnstone looks at the life of the controversial figure.