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.
Czech born Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka’s unique collection of photographs documenting the 1968 Russian-led invasion of Czechoslovakia opened at the Lumiere Brothers Gallery in Moscow on Friday. At the exhibition’s opening the photographer said he hoped the unique testimony would help dispel the myth that the invasion of Czechoslovakia was an act of solidarity with its people.
In this edition of Czech history, we look at the development of Czech-American relations over the past two decades. Ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain, they have been the pivot of Czech foreign policy. But after the euphoria of the Velvet Revolution and the era of Washington’s fascination with Václav Havel, these relations today are like a 20-year old marriage with no sex – at least according to some current and former diplomats who appeared in Friday’s debate hosted by the Foreign Ministry.
A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) was one of the best-known and most influential British historians of the 20th century. He is remembered in particular for his provocative left-wing political views and his conviction that German history made the country uniquely inclined towards aggression and expansionism. This made him an ardent opponent of attempts to rebuild Germany’s economy after the war, and a strong supporter of Czechoslovakia’s growing alliance with the Soviet Union. In July 1946, just after elections which saw the Communists emerge as the strongest single
A new documentary that will premiere in Czech cinemas next week depicts the lesser known part of the life of the Czech-born actor Jiří (or George) Voskovec. In his homeland, he is best known as the co-founder and co-star of Prague’s pre-war avant-garde theatre troupe, the Liberated Theatre. Having spent the war in exile in New York, Jiří Voskovec again moved to the US after the 1948 communist takeover of Czechoslovakia. The new film, entitled My Father George Voskovec, follows his daughter Gigi retracing her father’s life, from the difficult beginnings
I had never really been inside or had a proper look around, but I was sure the small church of St Martin in the Wall would have an interesting story, if for no other reason than its ancient appearance and peculiar name. Just off the central Národní třída is a classic Prague alleyway that’s tucked away from the shopping boulevard, neatly dividing the centuries from one another, and there you’ll find it. One of the oldest churches in the city, St Martin in the Wall is one of those relatively few landmarks whose story can transport you all the way
On Wednesday October 5th, history came round full circle in Prague as a bronze statue of US President Woodrow Wilson was unveiled outside the city’s Main Railway Station. The original 3.5 metre tall monument by Czech-American sculptor Albín Polášek was funded by Americans of Czech and Slovak descent and erected on 4th July 1928. It was pulled down by the Nazis 70 years ago and a restored copy has just been re-erected by the non-profit organization The American Friends of the Czech Republic.