A new exhibition, marking the start of the school year, got underway at the National Museum in Prague on Monday. It is dedicated to the 17th century Czech philosopher and thinker Jan Ámos Komenský or Comenius, known as ‘The Teacher of Nations’, and focuses on his most famous work for children, called Orbis Pictus.
The establishment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or dual monarchy, came as bitter blow for Czech intellectuals who hoped for equal status under a federalist state. While the liberal era after 1861 and resulting German centralist approach had all but destroyed the hopes of Austrian Slavs for equal treatment, the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 establishing the dual monarchy, left Czechs in Bohemia in particular feeling disenfranchised, and brought an end to political Austro-Slavism.
Since the discovery of a Byzantine-era church in Israel’s Ashdod-Yam, archaeologists have had a better opportunity to study the Eastern Roman Empire’s sixth century footprint in Palestine. Among them is a Czech archaeologist, who helped find evidence this summer that the building may not be of Georgian origin as originally thought.
T.G. Masaryk’s daughter Alice was imprisoned in 1915 for treason, a charge that carried the death penalty. Her time in a grim jail in Vienna is the focus of Charlotte and Alice, a freshly published and highly illuminating collection of over 200 letters between her and her US-born mother, Charlotte Masaryk. The book is the work of Anne Johnson, an American editor and translator who lives in Brno. She explained its genesis when we spoke recently in the city.
The Czech Radio building in Prague saw the most intense violence during the Soviet-led invasion of August 21, 1968 and, as every year, hundreds of people marked the anniversary at the station on Thursday. Among them were leading politicians – and one old lady who broadcast news of the occupation to the outside world.
Exactly a year after the Prague Spring was crushed by a Warsaw Pact invasion, many thousands of Czechoslovaks went into the streets once more to protest their country’s occupation. The subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators, this time by their own countrymen, resulted in hundreds of arrests and even five deaths. It crushed the last vestiges of hope and persuaded the public that “normalisation” was here to stay.
On the 17th of November 1939, Nazi soldiers executed eight Czech university students and a professor seen as ringleaders of protests against the occupation and deported more than 1,200 of their peers to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The last survivor of that internment, Vojmír Srdečný, died this week, aged 99. He had dedicated his life to working with physically handicapped and warning about the dangers of totalitarianism.
This Friday marks the 600 year anniversary since the death of King Wenceslas IV., who was simultaneously the king of Bohemia and of the Romans. His rule was marked by political miscalculation and excessive drinking. However, he was also an important patron of the arts. On the occasion of the anniversary, Prague Castle has opened an exhibition depicting some of the most accomplished gothic craftsmanship produced during his era.
Over 90 percent of books in the Czech National Library printed after the year 1800 are threatened with destruction caused by acid, which has been forming in the paper over the years. The library has now taken a major step to prevent the valuable volumes from turning to dust, sending several thousand of them to Germany to undergo special chemical treatment, called de-acidification.