Archaeologists in Israel believe they have indentified a unique mediaeval Bohemian coin found in 2009 in the former crusaders’ city of Acre. The experts say the coin was minted during the reign of King Przemysl Ottokar II in the second half of the 13th century; if that is the case, the coin would bear the earliest known depiction of the king, as well as historically the first usage of the title “King of Bohemia”. I discussed the discovery with Robert Kool from Israel Antiquities Authority.
Pavel Blažek spent three weeks in September taking panoramic photographs of long abandoned Soviet labour camps in Siberia for the project Gulag.cz. His work now forms a unique “virtual museum” via which people around the world can view places where thousands of prisoners lost their lives on a never completed railway line. When he came into our studio, Blažek described the intense experiences he and his group had along the way. But he first described their journey to the Arctic Circle.
For many Czechs, Russia’s Natalya Gorbanevskaya was nothing less than a hero, one of eight people in 1968 who protested on Red Square in Moscow against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. All of the protesters were arrested and as punishment she was sent to a psychiatric hospital. A few years after her release in 1972, she emigrated to France where she continued to work as a poet translator and human rights activist up until her death at the age of 77 last week.
Fascinating panoramic photos of abandoned Siberian Gulag camps have just appeared on the Czech website www.gulag.cz. The pictures were taken on the third trip deep into the Taiga by the association Gulag.cz and capture long overgrown labour camps along an uncompleted stretch of railway – a construction project that saw thousands of prisoners, including Czechs, die in appalling conditions. The founder of Gulag.cz, Štěpán Černoušek, explains the thinking behind the unique virtual tour.
One the newer annual events during the commemoration of the Czech day of Democracy and Freedom on 17 November – the Memory of the Nation award ceremony – took place on Sunday. The Post Bellum historical society, which collects historical testimonies from first-hand witnesses of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, gave the award to four people this year.
Michal Bregant is the director of the National Film Archive, a state body that oversees over 150 million metres of film, tens of thousands of movie posters and other valuable materials. When we met at a lively bar near the FAMU film school, of which Bregant was dean for six years, we discussed film preservation, digitisation and the future of the NFA. But the first topic of conversation was the foundation of the Archive way back in 1943: Were the Czechoslovaks unusual in realising at that time that their movies needed to be looked after?
Today’s programme will be dedicated to the Velvet Revolution which brought down the communist regime in November 1989. The events of November and December 1989 had a very distinctive soundscape: the rattling of the keys that thousands of protesters shook above their heads as well as slogans chanted by the crowds. But the soundtrack to the Velvet Revolution is much richer. A number of songs became unofficial anthems of the political change and the heady days of late 1989 are forever connected with music.
For six years during the Second World War, Prague was the capital of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, established by the Nazis in parts of the former Czechoslovakia. A new book entitled A Guide Through Prague Under the Protectorate now offers a detailed look at the map of the capital during those dark times. If you ever wondered where the paratroopers spent their last night before they assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, where Czech resistance fighters secretly met, or where Nazi top officials lived during the war, the book has all the
Look at some of the small town exhibitions currently underway and you can’t miss the trend – they all show vintage objects very often made up of stuff people find in their attics. The “out with the old and in with the new” fervor with which people cleaned out their attics just a few decades ago is long gone and families now treasure old family coffee grinders, foreign label-covered suitcases that belonged to seasoned family travelers or wooden weaving looms used by great grandmothers.
David Mrazek, is an award winning American writer and film producer. David, whose grandfather was a Czech American émigré, made an award winning documentary film in 1990 called ‘My Prague Spring’, which documented the lives of some of his Czech relatives in the heady months after the Velvet Revolution. In an interview for Radio Prague he talked about how the documentary was made and what inspired him to document this heady period of Czech modern history.