The Battle of Grunwald, where 600 years ago the Polish and Lithuanian armies defeated the mighty order of the Teutonic Knights, changed the map of central Europe. The legendary Czech 15th century general Jan Žižka took part in the battle on the side of the Poles. But Žižka was yet to become the leader of the Hussite movement and a Czech national hero. When the armies clashed at Grunwald on July 15, 1410, Jan Žižka was a ruthless mercenary ready to fight for whichever side hired him.
Prague last week hosted the 16th International Oral History Conference. And among the dozens of seminars, workshops and presentations, there was one about an ongoing project to interview cinemagoers and movie house workers in the country’s second city, Brno. The idea is to produce a picture of the cinema experience in the city over four decades. In this week’s Panorama, we look at some of the results so far.
Children of Stalinism is the title of a series of documentary films about the often harrowing experiences of daughters of political prisoners in 1950s Czechoslovakia. It has just been announced that four of those films will feature in the New York Independent Film Festival, which takes place later this month. To find out more, Radio Prague spoke to the project’s producer, Zuzana Dražilová.
A book entitled “Czech-Irish Cultural Relations 1900-1950” may sound a little obscure, but this slim volume published last year by the Centre for Irish Studies of Prague’s Charles University is anything but a dull, dry thesis. The book covers a hugely interesting and complex period, during which Ireland emerged from centuries of rule from London and Czechoslovakia arose from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire. David Vaughan picks up the story, in this week’s Czech Books.
As they enjoy a day off work every year on July 6, few Czechs give much thought to the man behind the holiday. In the Czech calendar this date marks the feast of the early 15th century religious reformer, Jan Hus. In fact, it is a rather grim anniversary that we are remembering. On July 6 1415, Jan Hus (or John Huss, as he is sometimes known in English) was burned at the stake as a heretic in the southern German city of Constance. It was a time of deep schisms within the Roman Catholic Church, and from the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague Hus had preached
Opposed, later persecuted – and finally forgotten. That was the fate of many Czech Catholic writers, who stood outside the literary mainstream. In one of Europe’s most atheist nations, the impact of these authors gradually diminished throughout the 20th century although in their heyday, in the interwar period, they managed to convey many original ideas and intriguing artistic expressions.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara is to many people a symbol of revolution. In fact his handsome, defiant face topped by a beret is said to be one of the most reproduced images in the world. The Argentinean Marxist famously took part in the Cuban revolution, and died trying to foment another uprising in Bolivia. What is perhaps less well known is his connection to a small town south of Prague.
When she lost her job after twenty years in the Czech section of the BBC, Hana Wilson was far from despondent. She simply allowed her hobby to take over her life. Hana, who left Czechoslovakia back in 1980, has spent much of the last decade on the waterways of Britain. Now she has published a book, introducing Czechs to the wonders of life on a narrowboat. Hana Wilson is David Vaughan’s guest in this week’s edition of Czech Books.
How did communist propaganda brainwash people? What were the most frequent words used in the communist press? And was it at all possible to learn any real news from the censored newspapers? These are some of the questions a team of Czech linguists is trying to answer in their Dictionary of Communist Totalitarianism.
With just days remaining until the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, football fever is beginning to grip fans around the globe. The Czech Republic failed to qualify this year, but many will have fond memories of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when supporters from Czechoslovakia were finally able to travel freely to a major soccer tournament.