Czech history

News and updates about Prague and the Czech Republic

Information and news about Czech history

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  • France and Belgium commemorate fallen Czechoslovak soldiers in siege of Dunkerque and liberation of De Panne

    22.05. 2017

    War veterans, diplomats and members of the public gathered in the French port of Dunkerque and the Belgian town of De Panne over the weekend to pay homage to the soldiers who lost their lives in the heroic siege of Dunkerque and the liberation of the French-Belgian border areas. Among the heroes of Dunkerque are members of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade which, although heavily outnumbered, fought to contain German units within the fortress up until their surrender in May, 1945.

  • The reconstruction of Prague Castle under Empress Maria Theresa

    20.05. 2017

    It is arguably the most frequently photographed sight in the Czech capital: Prague Castle overlooking the city complete with St. Vitus’ Cathedral. In the mid-18 century, the castle complex had a markedly different look. Its present-day appearance is based on designs by the Viennese court architect Nicolo Pacassi. He was commissioned by Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa after parts of the castle were heavily damaged.

  • Newly-issued stamp marks 75th anniversary of Operation Anthropoid

    17.05. 2017

    Czech Post on Wednesday unveiled a new souvenir sheet containing a 46 crown stamp marking the 75th anniversary of Operation Anthropoid. In the mission, Czechoslovak parachutists were dropped into occupied territory to assassinate Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The souvenir sheet, about the size of a postcard, gave the artist greater room to pay homage to those who gave their lives in the operation or were murdered in reprisal by the Nazis.

  • Czech heritage jewel wins prestigious European prize

    16.05. 2017

    The restoration of Kuks, one of the most beautiful baroque complexes in the Czech Republic, has won the European Grand Prix for heritage conservation. The prestigious award was presented by the Europa Nostra association in Finland’s Turku on Monday. The jury praised the interdisciplinary approach of the restoration work, saying it should serve as a strong example for conservation projects across Europe.

  • Maria Theresa: the pragmatic health reformer

    13.05. 2017

    In today’s edition of our miniseries, marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Empress Maria Theresa, we look at one of the many novelties she introduced during her reign - the reform of health care. The empress herself initiated some significant changes in the health sector, including obstetrics.

  • Ours is one of Europe’s most beautiful ministries, says Daniel Herman at Ministry of Culture’s Nostitz Palace

    13.05. 2017

    It’s not every day a government minister agrees to give a tour of his ministry. Then again, very few have such impressive headquarters as the Czech minister of culture, Daniel Herman. His department is housed in the magnificent Nostitz Palace in Prague’s Malá Strana district. And, as he explains in his stately first-floor office, he even has an ancient family connection to the building. But first Minister Herman tells us a little about the history of the palace.

  • Ethnic Germans in the Czech lands and the fateful steps which led to their mass expulsion after WW II

    08.05. 2017

    On the occasion of the anniversary of the end of WW II, I speak with well-known historian Matěj Spurný about the Sudeten Germans whose future in post-war Czechoslovakia was sealed when many lined up with Nazi Germany ahead of the Munich Agreement. Most of the ethnic German population was forced to leave – spelling the end of what had been a largely peaceful coexistence going all the way back to the 13th century.

  • Maria Theresa: the empress who left a mixed impression on the Czech lands

    06.05. 2017

    Radio Prague is over the next weeks reporting on aspects of the reign of the Empress Maria Theresa to mark the 300th anniversary of her birth. Actually, her birthday was May 13. She was the one, and only, woman ruler of the Habsburg empire and her 40 year reign usually stirs mixed emotions in one of the key parts of her empire, the then Kingdom of Bohemia.

  • Czech leaders remember Prague uprising at end of WWII

    05.05. 2017

    Czech Radio’s Prague headquarters was very much the focal point for the Prague uprising against Nazi rule at the end of WWII. And today’s top state personalities assembled on Friday outside the radio building to pay homage to the hundreds who fell at the barricades in Prague and in scattered skirmishes across the country.

  • Jičín says historic town title is reward to long term care and conception

    21.04. 2017

    The north-east Bohemian town of Jičín, which is best-known as the home of the fairy-tale hero Rumcajs, has been named Czech Historical Town of the year for 2016. The prize, which comes with a one-million-cheque for further preservation work, honours towns and cities in the Czech Republic that have excelled in preserving and renewing their cultural and architectural heritage.

  • Foreign Minister highlights “Czech Republic on the Way” project ahead of 2018

    21.04. 2017

    The Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek as well as key public figures such as the Academy of Sciences’ Pavel Baran or sociologist Tereza Stöckelová presented a new project on Thursday entitled “Česko na cestě”, marking key dates in the country’s history next year. It will be 100 years, for example, since the founding of Czechoslovakia and 50 since the Soviet-led invasion in 1968. The aim is to discuss key moments that changed the country, in good times and bad.

  • Bohemian born priest John Neumann who became US saint

    14.04. 2017

    A humble man born in South Bohemia later became one of the first saints in the United States. John Neumann actually studied for the priesthood in what was the then Bohemia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but he could not get ordained in his homeland and so emigrated to the US. Even after becoming bishop of Philadelphia, he stuck to the modest ways he had adopted as a priest, and was sometimes ridiculed for that. But his popular following fuelled the demands he be made a saint. The director of the St John Neumann shrine in the centre of Philadelphia, Father Raymond Collins, spoke to us on the phone about the life and significance of the Czech-born saint. He outlined first of all Neumann’s Bohemian background.

  • Prague’s famous astronomical clock to undergo major repair work

    13.04. 2017

    Prague’s famous 15th century astronomical clock, known as Orloj, is one of the oldest and most elaborate clocks ever built and one of the city’s best-known landmarks. Its main attraction is the procession of twelve wood-carved saints – St. Paul and eleven apostles - who come out on the hour. This spectacle is watched and recorded by approximately 700,000 tourists every year. However a major reconstruction of the tower and clock, which is just getting underway, will mean that tourists will have to forego this particular attraction for more than half a year.

  • A day in the life of a Neolithic woman

    06.04. 2017

    The discovery of the remains of a Neolithic settlement on Czech soil in 2001 led to years of painstaking research. Now the results of more than 15 years of study have appeared in a surprising format – a comic book called A day in the life of a Neolithic woman. The book, which is intended primarily for schoolchildren and educators, is the work of archeologist Veronika Mikešová and illustrator Michal Puhač who merged facts and fantasy to bring us a glimpse of life in this part of the world 7,000 years ago. I spoke to the illustrator about what the work entailed and how closely it is linked to archeological findings dating back to the early Stone Age.

  • Prague airport looks back on massive transformation over 80 years

    04.04. 2017

    Prague airport this week celebrates 80 years of its existence. The Václav Havel Airport in Prague, formerly called Ruzyně, started operation this week in 1937. While in the first year, the airport carried around 13,000 passengers, today the figure is one thousand times higher.

  • Czech and Slovaks combine to celebrate creation of homeland

    29.03. 2017

    The Czech Republic and Slovakia will unite next year to celebrate two major anniversaries: 100 years since the foundation of Czechoslovakia and the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Prague Spring and its subsequent crushing by Soviet-led forces. The celebrations are set to be bigger than ever, with nearly 200 events scheduled to take place over the course of the year.

  • Cardinal Miloslav Vlk: From window-cleaner to Archbishop of Prague

    24.03. 2017

    The Czech Republic has lost one of its leading church dignitaries. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, former head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, succumbed to cancer at the age of 84. He will be remembered for his unwavering faith, his bravery during the communist years and his utter dedication to every office he held, be it a pastor in an isolated mountain parish or Archbishop of Prague. In a special in-depth interview for Czech Radio Cardinal Vlk traced his path in life, sharing his innermost thoughts and cherished memories with listeners. In the second part of the interview he talks about the tumultuous changes that took him from being a window cleaner to the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church.

  • Philosopher Jan Patočka, co-founder of Charter 77, remembered

    14.03. 2017

    March 13th marked 40 years since the death of Czech philosopher Jan Patočka, one of the founding members and first spokesmen for the Charter 77 human rights movement. Patočka, who suffered from ill health, was interrogated for 10 hours by Czechoslovakia’s secret police, the StB. His health rapidly worsened and he later died. His funeral itself became an expression of opposition to the regime.

  • Book highlights exploits of Czechs and Slovaks in WWI British army

    11.03. 2017

    One rather overlooked corner of history has been the story of Czechs and Slovaks serving with the British army in World War One. In contrast, the details of Czechs and Slovaks serving with the French army and in Russia have been covered quite thoroughly.

  • Dutch show of support for Czech dissidents in 1977 commemorated in Prague

    01.03. 2017

    A monument has just been unveiled in Prague commemorating the support shown to Czech dissidents by the late Dutch politician Max van der Stoel. Forty years ago, on March 1, 1977, his meeting with Charter 77 spokesman Jan Patočka represented a significant breakthrough for the anti-Communist movement, then still very much in its infancy.

  • VOA: 75 years of station many Czechs tuned into across Iron Curtain

    24.02. 2017

    Many looking for an alternative to state-controlled media in communist Czechoslovakia tuned into to Voice of America, which was founded 75 years ago this month. Over the decades a number of well-known Czechoslovak exiles spoke to the nation via the US-funded radio station’s broadcasts.

  • UK village to finally get monument to Anthropoid heroes

    23.02. 2017

    Prior to being dropped in Nazi-controlled Bohemia to carry out the assassination of German governor Reinhard Heydrich, the Czechoslovak parachutists Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš were based in the English village of Ightfield, where they befriended the local Ellison family. Now – 75 years after their daring mission – the pair are set to get a monument there. The man behind the campaign to honour them in this way is Englishman John Martin, the author of a book on Operation Anthropoid.

  • Many gems of early 20th century Czech architecture among buildings newly listed as cultural monuments

    22.02. 2017

    Fifteen buildings were just recently added to the list of Czech Cultural Monuments, including an early 20th century power station in Poděbrady and Prague’s famous Lucerna Palace. The list also includes buildings from earlier periods, such as the Invalidovna complex, which featured prominently in Miloš Forman’s Amadeus.

  • Historian Matěj Spurný: Anti-humanist atmosphere is spreading – and we must fight back

    13.02. 2017

    At the start of this year historian Matěj Spurný came in for a great deal of online abuse – and even death threats – after an interview he gave a magazine headlined This country is not just for Czechs. Spurný’s work is focused on issues of nationalism and identity and he is a co-founder of Antikomplex, a group advocating for a more critical look at the post-war expulsion of the country’s German minority. When the Charles University academic visited our studios I was curious to know, given his specialisation, about his own family background.

  • Czech nobility under the spotlight in tv series

    11.02. 2017

    A series of eight programmes on public broadcaster Czech Television called Modrá Krev or Blue Blood is already around half way through. The series looks at the modern Czech aristocracy, in many cases families which have returned from exile during the Communist era, with each episode focusing on one particular noble family.

  • New documentary celebrates Czechoslovak war hero, RAF pilot Emil Boček

    10.02. 2017

    A new Czech documentary film pays tribute to one of the country’s last remaining war heroes, Czechoslovak RAF veteran General Emil Boček. The 94-year old war pilot made headlines last year when he got his wish to fly a Spitfire once again, more than seven decades after his last flight in the iconic plane. Documentary film maker Daniel Hnát was in London for the memorable occasion and the result is a half-hour documentary called “Twenty minutes over London”.

  • Jan Antonín Baťa always said he put his people first, says granddaughter Dolores Bata Arambasic

    06.02. 2017

    The Baťa family – who built a shoemaking empire in Zlín, Moravia – were perhaps the most important industrialists in interwar Czechoslovakia. One of the best-known members of the family was Jan Antonín Baťa, who headed the firm after the death of Baťa founder Tomáš Baťa, his half-brother. After fleeing the Nazis in 1939, the tycoon eventually settled in Brazil, where he established four new cities. His granddaughter Dolores Bata Arambasic, was born in one of those cities, Batatuba. Today in her late 60s, she is a frequent visitor to the Czech Republic. When we spoke in Prague, I asked what were her strongest recollections of Jan Antonín Baťa.

  • Architectural historian Barbara Peacock: in Britain we had no idea about the richness of the Czech cultural heritage

    02.02. 2017

    British architectural historian Barbara Peacock was recently honoured with a Point of Light Award by Prime Minister Theresa May for her work in helping to repair, preserve and enhance the Czech Republic’s rich architectural heritage. Following a visit to the Czech Republic in the early 1990s, Ms. Peacock set up The Friends of Czech Heritage fund, winning over British and Czech volunteers to help restore historic buildings, gardens and landmarks around the country. Jiří Hošek, Czech Radio’s correspondent in the UK, met up with Barbara Peacock to talk about her work and began by asking what sparked her interest in the Czech Republic.

  • Czech Holocaust hero Antonín Kalina remembered in home town

    27.01. 2017

    On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Czechs are marking the memory of Antonín Kalina, a Czechoslovak Communist who risked his own life to save at least 900, mostly Jewish children from the Holocaust. A documentary about the unsung hero of the Holocaust was premiered on Czech Television this week while his hometown of Třebíč announced plans to open a memorial hall dedicated to their famous son.

  • Fashion Behind the Iron Curtain: A new book explores how Czechoslovakia’s communist regime used fashion to further its ideological aims

    27.01. 2017

    A new book, Fashion Behind the Iron Curtain, released by Grada and Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) has taken on the task of mapping fashion in Czechoslovakia from 1948 – 1989, a period that followed the Second World War, the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, a brief window of democracy and freedom and itself was marked by 40 years of totalitarian rule.