Gazing out of the window of a spacious room in a romantic neo-gothic chateau, I see the image of a woman in a beautiful early twentieth century dress sitting on a bench in the scenic park that spreads out before me. Two men, a writer and a poet, are keeping her company, taking in the calm of the landscape around them but keeping their eyes fixed on their muse - Sidonie Nadherna.
My guest on this week's One on One is Jiri Jes, a journalist and broadcaster who still appears regularly on Czech Radio at the age of 80. Prevented from writing during the Communist era, Jiri Jes began his journalist career in the early 1990s, when he was already in his sixties. When I met Jiri on a snowy Sunday afternoon in Prague's Bila Hora district, I began by asking him for his memories of childhood in pre-war Czechoslovakia.
This weekend saw the largest re-enactment of a Napoleonic battle in the history of central Europe. Tens of thousands of people braved the bitter cold on Saturday for the bicentennial staging of the 'Battle of the Three Emperors' of 2 December 1805 - Napoleon Bonaparte's greatest victory. On the rolling hills and fields outside Austerlitz, now Slavkov in South Moravia, the young French emperor outwitted a much larger Russo-Austrian force -- a feat of which he would be proud to his dying day. Taking part in the re-enactment on Saturday were some four
Friday marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the "Battle of Three Emperors" -- Napoleon's decisive victory over the Austrian and Russian armies on the Moravian plains near the town of Austerliz, or Slavkov as it's known in Czech. In 1805, the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the locals considered themselves on the losing side of the battle.
Political prisoners had been forced to work the mines of Czechoslovakia long before the Communists seized power in the "bloodless" coup of February 1948. Under the direction of the hard-line Stalinist leader Klement Gottwald, however, securing workers to unearth weapons-grade uranium became policy; a top priority. The camps served two purposes: a way to purge the land of "class enemies" and to build up the atomic arsenal of the Soviet Union, when few could have guessed the ideological war with the West would remain a "cold" one.
The corpses of some of Czechoslovakia's most celebrated war heroes may be serving as models in anatomy classes in Germany and Austria to this day. Thousands of political prisoners were murdered at the Ploetzensee detention and execution centre outside Berlin during WWII. Among them were nearly seven hundred Czech and Slovak resistance fighters, whose bodies were immediately sent on to medical universities and institutions within the Third Reich.
The sentencing to death of Czech MP Milada Horakova on trumped up charges of treason at the height of the Stalinist regime in the 1950s will always be one of the most painful and chilling moments in Czech history. A little more than 55 years ago, she faced her show trial with calm and defiance, refusing to be broken. Audio recordings - intended to be used by the Communists for propaganda purposes - were mostly never aired, for the large part because for the Party's purposes, they were unusable. After Milada Horakova's trial and execution, much of
Czechs and Slovaks marked the 16th anniversary of the start of the 1989 Velvet Revolution on Thursday, a time when people remember the overthrow of Communist rule and reflect on the changes that have swept society since then. But discontent is growing with the current political situation, and that discontent was reflected in the mood on the streets of Prague. Radio Prague's Rob Cameron has this report.
On the 28th of October, 1939, Czechoslovak Independence day, Czech students took to the streets to demonstrate against the Nazi occupation. The protest was brutally suppressed - with shots fired at random into the crowd. One student leader, Jan Opletal, was seriously wounded, and later succumbed to his injuries. Thousands turned out for his funeral procession, and protests again turned violent. Hitler ordered a swift and brutal clampdown. On the 17th of November, nine students, seen as the ringleaders, were executed and over a thousand were sent
Robert J.W. Evans, a professor of history at Oxford, is one of the world's leading authorities on the historical development of Central Europe. Among other things, he has written an award-winning history of the Habsburg Empire, which is considered required reading for anyone interested in the evolution and legacy of the Habsburg monarchs who dominated this part of the world for six centuries up to the end of the First World War. Having started his academic career as a linguist, Professor Evans is also well known for his analysis of the role language