Usually in Czech Books we discuss poetry or prose, but for this week's programme we look at an intriguing book that fits neither category. Instead it is a collection of interviews, coming from a part of the Czech Republic that has gone through huge and sometimes traumatic changes over the last sixty or seventy years. I talk with two people who were very closely involved in the book, Matej Spurny and Ondrej Matejka.
Most of us have probably come across the astronomical terms nova and supernova - but did you know that the word "nova" was actually coined by an astronomer with a close connection to Prague? It is 460 years to the day since one of the founders of modern astronomy Tycho Brahe was born, on December 14, 1546. He spent the final years of his life in the Czech lands and he found his final resting place in Prague's Týn Church, within earshot of the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square.
Thirty years ago a handful of people met in a flat in Prague to discuss the communist regime's failure to observe fundamental human rights. What grew out of that meeting was to become the first dissident movement in the Soviet bloc, a movement which played a key role in bringing about the end of totalitarian communism in Czechoslovakia. And, perhaps typically for a country that seems to produce more than its fair share of oddities and idiosyncracies, it all began with a psychedelic rock band.
Zdenka Fantlova is a truly remarkable woman. Now in her 80s, this charming lady is still busy travelling and lecturing about her life experience. Meeting her, you would never guess she has been through hell. Coming from a Czech Jewish family, at the age of 18 she was transported to the Terezin concentration camp in Bohemia. Other camps followed: Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen and Mauthausen.
Many of you who live in a city will understand when I say that it's been several months since I last stopped to admire some of Prague's beautiful sights. But the other day, as I was rushing to the Clementinum, something caught my eye at Charles Bridge and I had to stop. It was something shiny on the Bridge Tower on the side of the Old Town. When I came closer, I noticed that the statues of Charles IV, Vaclav IV, the three saints Zigmund, Vojtech, and Vit, and the lion had been replaced.
Today in Mailbox: we reveal the name of the mystery man from last month's competition and announce the names of the four lucky winners. You will also find out the new question for December. Listeners quoted: J. R. Tinsley, Suresh Agrawal, Henk Poortvliet, Elamir Ghattas, Ian Morisson, George Perez, Roy Kitson.
The dramatic events of the Velvet Revolution began on the 17th November 1989. A student demonstration was put down brutally by the police, resulting in a huge public outcry. Protests and further demonstrations gained such rapid momentum that within days the regime was doomed, and by the end of the year Vaclav Havel was president. Any Czech over the age of thirty-five will have vivid memories of the time, but in the meantime a generation has grown up for whom these events are no more than history. So how, seventeen years after the fall of communism,
The "National Theatre House" in the Moravian town of Prostejov - a centre of the Czech clothes industry - has just put some unusual items on display. The Art Nouveau house of culture, which was built in 1907, is exhibiting negligees from the early 20th century. The owners of the elegant dressing gowns are the town's residents themselves. Dita Asiedu reports:
It's hard to believe that it's almost seventeen years since mass demonstrations brought about the end of Czechoslovakia's communist regime. Czechs have come a long way since 1989, but in many ways the country is still coming to terms with the four decades of totalitarian rule. Throughout November the Czech NGO People in Need is running a project called Stories of Injustice, showing schoolchildren powerful documentaries about communist-era oppression, and also bringing living witnesses into the schools. The children have also been asked to seek