After the end of the Second World War it was often very difficult to catch and bring Nazi war criminals and their collaborators to justice. Historian Vojtěch Kyncl from the Czech Academy of Sciences has written a new book called Beasts: Czechoslovakia and the Persecution of Nazi Criminals, which explores the Czechoslovak side of this endeavour. I began by asking him when the allies, including Czechoslovakia, first committed to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice.
A rose-coloured porcelain cup and saucer made 225 years ago has pride of place at the Museum of Porcelain in Klášterec nad Ohří. It is the oldest preserved item which was made within a series of experiments in porcelain production in 1794. The other pieces fell apart, but the rose-coloured cup and saucer heralded hope for the future. Today the famous Thun brand of porcelain is exported to countries the world over.
The creator of the Czech Republic’s most famous liquor, Josef Vitus Becher, was born exactly 250 years ago in Karlovy Vary. It was he who invented the drink, which has come to be known as “Becherovka”, by adjusting a recipe he received from an English physician called Christian Frobrig. The liquor has since become one of the most recognised Czech exports.
We start this series with one of the great European democrats of the 20th century, Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Born in 1850, he was already in his late sixties when he became president in November 1918. He took inspiration from the western democracies, in particular the United States and Britain, having spent time in both countries during his First World War exile. But he was also a passionate European.
Archaeologists, excavating the site of the former WWII internment camp for Roma in Lety, have found some of the victims’ graves. Those who took part in the project say that the discovery is not only the first time that graves of Roma people persecuted by the Nazis have been found in Europe, but also undisputable proof of what happened in the camp.
The fate of a controversial statue of Soviet Army commander Ivan Konev in Prague 6 has finally been decided. On Thursday, the local council voted in favour of moving it to a new location and replacing it with a monument to the soldiers who liberated Prague in 1945. The Russian Embassy has hit back, calling the decision outrageous.
Councillors at Prague City Hall unanimously voted in favour of creating a Museum of 20th Century Memory in the Czech capital on Monday. The plan is to provide the country with an equivalent to renowned twentieth century museums abroad such as the Topography of Terror in Berlin or the Museum of the Second World War in Danzig.
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.