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.
By 1944 Czechoslovakia’s liberation no longer seemed a distant prospect, as Nazi Germany’s enemies closed in from East and West. On June 6 1944 over 130,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. Later that same day, the Allied forces’ Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower, took to the airwaves:
Over the last few weeks, the actress Veronika Hyks has been bringing us extracts from Jaroslava Skleničková’s memoirs, “If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…”. The book tells the moving story of how Jaroslava was sent with the other women from her home village of Lidice to the Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin, after the Nazis razed the entire village to the ground in June 1942. The men of the village were shot in cold blood, and nearly all the children were gassed in Poland, but throughout their stay in Ravensbrück, the women had
One of the best kept secrets among Czech castles and historic sites is the gorgeous Kozel Chateau founded in the late 18th century in western Bohemia. Founded by nobleman Jan Vojtěch Černín, a member of Emperor Joseph II’s court, the stone residence served an as exquisite hunting chateau and today is one of the best examples of Classicist architecture in Bohemia. The site is surrounded by fine lawns, a beautiful park and forests perfect for visits in the spring and summer. What’s more, Kozel is only an hour or so away from Prague and just minutes
The wartime president of occupied Bohemia and Moravia, Emil Hácha, is one of the saddest figures of Czech twentieth century history. An elderly academic, he only agreed reluctantly to become head of state after Edvard Benes resigned over the Munich Agreement in 1938. He made the tragic mistake of remaining in office when Hitler marched into the country six months later. Hácha’s hopes of preserving at least some of his country’s independence were gradually worn down, and as his health failed, he eventually became nothing but a puppet of the
We have now reached the sixth part in our serialized reading of “If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…”, the memoirs of Jaroslava Skleničková. Veronika Hyks has been reading the story of Jaroslava’s childhood in Lidice, brought to a violent end in June 1942, when the Nazis decide to wipe away any trace of the village. Jaroslava – or Jaří – is the youngest of the women of Lidice to be sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, and she is there with her mother and sister, Míla. Nobody dares to think about what might have happened to the men
Two years ago, representatives of 46 governments gathered at the former Nazi concentration camp in Terezín, an hour’s drive north of Prague. Among the many pledges contained within the pages of the Terezín Declaration was a promise to expedite the return of private property seized from Jews during the Holocaust and still not returned. Many descendants, however, are still waiting to get their family's property back.
Standing in the centre of the Clementinum – if you can locate such a thing in the labyrinth – you are surrounded by around a millennium of history and millions of volumes of books inside one of the most beautifully preserved masterpieces of Baroque art the city of Prague has to offer. This is the seat of the Czech National Library and the whispering and rustling that echoes through its grand halls add perfectly to its natural mysteriousness.