Wednesday marks the 45th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the armies of the Soviet Union and other communist countries. The invasion shocked the nation, and ushered in a long period of political and moral decline. More than a hundred people died during the invasion, some of whom were killed in defence of Czechoslovak Radio. On Wednesday, several Czech top officials, witnesses and dozens of guests marked the anniversary outside the Czech Radio building in central Prague.
Prague Castle is considered one of the symbols of the Czech state. Once the seat of Bohemian kings, it now houses the Office of the Czech President, and its museums and galleries annually attract millions of visitors. But for over a hundred years, Prague Castle was half-forgotten. With the imperial court residing in Vienna throughout the 19th century, the castle only served as a luxurious hotel for the royal family and their relatives and friends. A recently published book of memoirs entitled A Greeting from the Castle Hill now offers an insider’s
The UN Human Rights’ Committee has asked the Czech government to close down a pig farm located on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp for Romanies. Built in the 1970s, the farm has been a source of embarrassment to all post-1989 governments, but despite bringing the country international disgrace, it is still there and likely to remain so.
In the recent decades, Fanta’s café at Prague’s central railroad station has been more of a mythical place, known mostly to a select few. Visitors to the capital who happened to find out about its existence had quite a bit of trouble finding their way out of the communist station up into its oldest, and arguably most beautiful parts. The search, though, is rewarding. The tall, ornate dome from early twentieth century is breathtaking, especially after the not-so-modern main part of the station with its low ceilings and until recently notoriously
Prague residents and visitors may have noticed during their wanderings small brass plaques set into the pavement in front of apartment blocks and houses. They are ‘Stolpersteine’, literally ‘stumbling stones’, originally the work of a German artist named Gunter Demnig who wanted to remind residents in his city of Cologne of the victims of the Nazis who once lived there. The project has since spread across Europe, and this morning the latest ‘Stolperstein’ was laid in Prague, outside the last home of the Czech writer and journalist Milena
More than a decade ago Derek Sayer, a professor of history at Lancaster University, published an immensely popular book entitle The Coasts of Bohemia, which covers Czech history and culture from the mythical past all the way until early twentieth century. Its readers have been eagerly awaiting a continuation of the accessible and highly detailed work that opened up Czech history to a wider audience. This year, professor Sayer published a new work - ‘Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History’, which focuses in on the Czech capital
The 20th century saw scores of Czechs and Slovaks leaving their country to escape political oppression. After the communist takeover of 1948, some 40,000 people left and settled in Western countries such as the United States, where many of them joined various exile groups, trying to hasten the fall of the totalitarian regime and to warn free nations of the dangers of communism. In this edition of Czech History, I discuss some of the achievements and failures of the Czechoslovak émigré community in the US with researcher Martin Nekola.
Today would have been the eightieth birthday of Olga Havlová, first wife of the late former president Václav Havel. Olga died in 1996 at the age of 62, after devoting much of life to helping others and sacrificing large parts of it for her husband’s unpredictable career, first as an anti-communist dissident and later as a political leader. Still fondly remembered by many, Olga’s life is being commemorated with a new book and documentary.
Ever since Czech TV began broadcasting its own version of BBC’s show Who Do You Think You Are, many people have developed an interest in finding more about their own history, about who their ancestors were, where lived, and what they did. In this edition of Panorama, we discuss the boom in genealogy with researcher Blanka Lednická who a few years ago left her IT job and set up her own genealogy business.