It is exactly 90 years since the very first regular radio broadcasts in Czechoslovakia began on 18 May 1923. These were humble beginnings, starting in a borrowed scouts’ tent on the edge of Prague. But within just a few years, radio became central to the lives of millions of Czechoslovaks and over the decades the archives here in the Czech Radio headquarters have become an Aladdin’s Cave of sound, a living audio source for anyone wanting to research into twentieth century Czechoslovak history. For our 90th birthday, we joined forces with a group
This weekend we’ll be celebrating 90 years since the first regular radio broadcasts in Czechoslovakia, and we’ll be bringing you a special programme. David Vaughan has been working with a group of Prague journalism students, to discover some of the forgotten gems hidden in the radio archive. He tells us more about Saturday’s special programme.
Zdeněk Nejedlý was an influential Czech musicologist and Communist politician. Most often remembered as a passionate admirer of the composer Bedřich Smetana, he was also instrumental in linking Communist ideology to Czech traditions. A new biography of Nejedlý by Jiří Křesťan offers a more complex view of the man whose life illustrates the perils Czech intellectuals faced in the 20th century.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to queue for hours to view the Czech crown jewels, which have just gone on display at Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall. The priceless collection, which includes the St. Wenceslas crown, is being shown for the first time in five years – but only for a 10-day period.
Professor Otto Pick was one of nearly 700 Jewish children who escaped the Nazis on a transport to the UK organised by Nicholas Winton, a British diplomat based in Prague. He says he only became aware relatively recently that he was on the now famous “Winton train” and does not know how his family managed to get him on board and save his life.
The large-scale regional exhibition taking place in two South Bohemian and two Upper Austrian cities hit the first snag within days of the grand opening. Part of the exhibit in the small town of Vyšší Brod, which is dedicated to the houses of worship in the region, sparked intense criticism for displaying works dating back to darker days in history.
My guest today is Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz, a professor emerita at the University of British Columbia. Born in 1927 in the Czech town of Liberec, Marketa left Czechoslovakia following the communist putsch in 1948. She established herself in Canada as a professor of comparative literature, author and essayist, focusing in particular on publishing samizdat literature, and also writing about the work of Czech playwrights such as Pavel Kohout, Josef Topol, Ivan Klíma, and her friend the former president Václav Havel.
The Roman Catholic Church has begun the process of beatifying a priest who was at the centre of one of the most bizarre and gruesome episodes of the initial phase of communism in Czechoslovakia. After a cross was said to have moved in his village church, Josef Toufar was brutally tortured into confessing to fabricating the “miracle”. However, if he is beatified, it will be a lengthy process.
Prague’s skyline gave the capital one of its nicknames: the city of a hundred spires. But in actual fact around a thousand spires, belfries and towers of various styles and ages now grace the city centre. Some of them are popular tourist attractions offering great views of the city, others only recently revealed their mysteries. One served as an observation post for the secret police; another hosted a morbid display of a dozen severed heads.
Since it was established six years ago the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has provided unprecedented public access to secret files once held by the security apparatus of communist Czechoslovakia. But it’s been a troubled institution, under constant political pressure and plagued by in-fighting. And now it’s in turmoil again, after the latest director was sacked.