William N. Oatis, an Associated Press correspondent who served in Prague in the hardline 1950s entered cold war history when the communist regime made him confess falsely to espionage and sentenced him to 10 years in jail. Now, fifteen years after his death, recordings of that shameful show trial have unexpectedly been unearthed in the country’s National Archives.
For first-time visitors the world-famous Konopiště Chateau or Karlštejn Castle are natural choices for daytrips outside of Prague but one destination visitors might want to consider is the royal Czech town of Rakovník, a veritable historic gem found less than 60 kilometres west of the Czech capital. Archaeologists have found that long before it was established as a town, the site of Rakovník and its surroundings, was favoured by tribes as far back as the Stone Age. Finds on display at the local TG Masaryk Museum in Rakovník show some of the oldest
On Sunday Czechs marked the 70th anniversary one of the biggest tragedies in the country’s history the extermination of Lidice village, the Nazis’ brutal revenge for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia. The unprecedented massacre of civilians, followed just two weeks later by the razing to the ground of a second village, Ležáky, opened the eyes of the international community to the true nature of the regime and to this day remains one of the most powerful mementos of WWII.
This weekend is the 70th anniversary of the Nazi destruction of the village of Lidice. Shortly after the massacre, the British novelist Kathleen Hewitt wrote: “The tragedy of Lidice is part of a tragedy so great that one hesitates before daring to comment on it.” But she added that “words are potent weapons, as it is of words that history is made.” Since the Nazis tried to wipe Lidice from the map, many, many words have been written about Lidice; it has captured the imagination of writers like few other wartime atrocities, and dozens, perhaps hundreds,
In the last years of the Cold War, Radio Prague’s English department was many times bigger than it is today and divided into several sections, devoted to different parts of the world. One of the most important was the Afro-Asian service. Africa was an important Cold War battleground and Radio Prague’s Afro-Asian service was not just telling the people of Africa about Czechoslovakia. It also covered events within Africa itself, following closely the Soviet political line. At one time the department was receiving tens of thousands of listeners’ letters
The last years of the Brezhnev era were a period of deep mistrust between the Soviet Union and the United States. As disarmament talks stumbled and both countries expanded their nuclear arsenals, the popularity of the peace movement in the West grew. The governments of communist countries saw this as an opportunity to try to influence Western public opinion and Radio Prague’s English-language broadcasts were part of this process.
A conference and an exhibition this week commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Professor Gordon Skilling, a leading scholar on modern Czech and Slovak history. Gordon Skilling’s life-long interest in Central Europe began before WWII when he came to Prague to do research for his dissertation, a time he also briefly worked for Radio Prague. We spoke to Gordon Skilling’s son David who is in Prague for the events, and asked him what it was like to be growing up surrounded by all things Czech.
On occasion of the 70-year-anniversary of the Heydrich assassination, an exhibition on the subject has opened in Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset. While the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is one of the most significant events in modern Czech history, the story of how the governor of the occupied Czech lands was killed is relatively unknown in Israel – despite the fact that Heydrich was one of the main architects behind the Final Solution.
A series of events held in Prague and elsewhere over the weekend marked the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a top ranking Nazi official and the ruler of the occupied Czech lands. While dozens of people came to see a reconstruction of the assassination, a mock concentration camp was erected in central Prague in the memory of the victims of Nazi retaliation.