During World War II, the political left in Britain and the United States had come to identify itself strongly with the fate of the Czech nation. This was partly a reaction to the shame of Munich in 1938, when Czechoslovakia had been abandoned by her allies, and it was reinforced by the role played by the British miners in launching the Lidice Shall Live movement. This had followed the Nazis’ destruction of the Czech mining village of Lidice in June 1942. In this spirit the president of the British Miners’ Federation Will Lawther, came at the end
For the occasion of September 28, I’m here at a place that some people actually call the real centre of the Czech Republic. Not the geographic centre to be sure, but certainly the focal point for much of the Czech Republic’s rocky modern-day history. It’s a statue of a man on a horse (which people call ‘the horse’ when they arrange one of the hundreds of meetings that take place here each day). But it’s of course the man on the horse that has overseen everything over the last hundred years from the declaration of Czechoslovak independence to 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.
On this week’s Sunday Music Show we mark the birthday of Antonín Dvořák, who would have 170 candles on his birthday cake this year. Unfortunately he only lived to the age of 63, enjoying a career of about four decades, but he saw the kind of success in his day that few composers could dare to hope for. Today’s show is a personal tribute to one of the greatest masters of Western musical history.
In From the Archives this week we carry on where we left off at the end of August in our chronological journey through the Czech Radio archives. We had reached the point just after the end of World War Two; after the initial euphoria, the hard work of rebuilding the country began: not least at the Czechoslovak Radio building itself, which had been shot to pieces in the Prague Uprising and received a direct hit from a German aerial torpedo.
If you’re not looking for it then you’ll probably overlook the rather nondescript building of the Ministry of Industry, near the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square. If, however, you are one of the few who read Prague’s street-side memorial signs, you get the full impact of what the dirty grey, rough-hewn building called Petschek’s Palace means to modern Czech history: “In the time of the Nazi occupation,” it reads, “this building housed the torture chambers of the Gestapo. Fighters for the freedom of our country fought, suffered and died here. We
In this edition of Czech History, we look at the life of Karel Kalivoda, one of the most successful and famous Czech police detectives of the 20th century. A self-made man in principle, Karel Kalivoda worked his way up from ordinary rank and file to the head of Prague’s criminal police. He made a number of compromises to get there – but he always retained a degree of integrity unusual for the time and place.
Because August 21 is the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the radio played such a central role in the events of those dramatic days, in this edition of From the Archives we shall be hearing the memories of one of the key journalists involved in those dramatic events. Jiří Dienstbier was one of Czechoslovak Radio’s star reporters at the time. Later he was to become one of the best-known dissidents of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and after the Velvet Revolution he was the country’s first post-communist foreign minister.
For Czechs, the 20th century was a turbulent time. Independent Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918 only to later fall victim to the two great tyrannies of modern history – Nazism and communism. Many Czechs fled their country during the 20th century so that they could live as free people, and often simply to save their lives. Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Egon Hostovský, one of the most distinctive and significant modern-day Czech writers, who fled his country twice, first to escape the Nazis, and later the Communists.