The name of Václav Babinský is familiar to almost every Czech. The Babinsky legend lives thanks to a folk song, passed on from generation to generation and, curiously, most popular with very young children. It tells the story of a notorious criminal named Babinský who is awaiting execution in a flea infested prison. In today’s Czech History we find out whether the song remains true to history and we look at the life and legend of the 19th-century Bohemian highwayman Václav Babinský.
Surrounded by railway sidings and industrial estates, it's easy to get the impression that Kolín is simply a town travellers pass through on the way from the Czech capital to the nearby tourist-friendly Kutná Hora. Nevertheless, anyone who gets off the train in Kolín and takes the trouble to walk the short distance past the factories and business parks to the city centre will find that it is a place worth visiting.
In the immediate aftermath of the political coup in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, the communists were keen to give the world the impression that it was business as usual and that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. In this respect Radio Prague as the international service of Czechoslovak Radio was expected to play its part, and so the communists asked the handful of British nationals working for one of Czechoslovakia’s biggest companies to make a statement in English for the radio. As a result one of the British staff of the shoe-making
Opposed, later persecuted – and finally forgotten. That was the fate of many Czech Catholic writers, who stood outside the literary mainstream. In one of Europe’s most atheist nations, the impact of these authors gradually diminished throughout the 20th century although in their heyday, in the interwar period, they managed to convey many original ideas and intriguing artistic expressions.
You are not very likely to wander into Svitavy by chance. Located on both the major road and railway line connecting Moravia and eastern Bohemia, for most people Svitavy is just a name on their itinerary. But if you do come and take a closer look, you’ll find a little town proud of its past and working for a better future. Once an important town for Moravia’s textile industry, re-populated after the expulsion of Svitavy’s German speaking inhabitants, it only recently showed its pride in perhaps its most famous native personality – Oskar
In Czechs in History this week, we speak to Jana Horáková-Kánský, daughter of one of Czechoslovakia's best known victims of Communist-era oppression, the democratic MP and wartime resistance hero Milada Horáková. Jana, Milada Horáková's only child, was just a teenager when her mother was executed on trumped up charges of treason and espionage in a 1950 show trial. Her father - who was also targeted by the Communist regime - made a daring escape from Czechoslovakia shortly afterwards, leaving Jana in the care of relatives. For years she was denied
In last week’s programme we heard about the Communist-led government that emerged from Czechoslovakia’s elections in May 1946. Although the number of parties allowed to take part had been limited, Czechoslovakia was still a multi-party democracy. But the governing coalition was an uneasy one, with the non-communist parties pushed into ever greater isolation, while the communists, with the weight of the Soviet Union behind them, gained an ever stronger foothold.
As of this week, the Czech capital Prague has a brand new attraction for visitors and its citizens alike. A new museum just a stone’s throw from Prague Castle looks back at an era when outstanding scientists and alchemists, brought to Prague from across Europe by the Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II., carried out their experiments in laboratories around the city.
The imposing Teplá abbey complex is sited around a dozen miles from the spa town of Mariánské Lázně, in western Bohemia. Its story is one of an enterprising religious community that was the main force in developing the whole region, its destruction under Nazism and then Communism and its tentative comeback today on the back of tourist income.