Czech history

News and updates about Prague and the Czech Republic

Information and news about Czech history

   ©   Czech Tourism    ©   Czech Tourism

  • Czechoslovak pilots among those honoured at Battle of Britain Museum

    19.03. 2018

    Scores of Czechoslovak pilots took part in the Battle of Britain, the famous July to October 1940 military campaign in which the RAF fought off massive German air raids and changed the course of World War II. Those Czechoslovak heroes are among those commemorated at the fascinating Battle of Britain Museum at a former key air base at Hawkinge near Folkstone in Kent, just kilometres from the English Channel.

  • US diplomacy and the Czechoslovak communist coup d'etat of 1948: a story of naïveté and shock

    10.03. 2018

    Seventy years ago the new Czechoslovak government was fully in the hands of the Communists. After the Stalinist coup d'etat in February 1948, a wave of arrests started and all democratic opposition was suppressed. Unclassified documents of the US Department of State show the degree of naïveté with which the American diplomats and intelligence officers in Prague faced their communist opponents and the subsequent shocking realization that there was nothing they could do.

  • Jan Masaryk’s mysterious death – a “last nail” in the coffin of democracy in 1948

    10.03. 2018

    Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of the still murky death of Jan Masaryk. The son of Czechoslovakia’s founder Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Jan Masaryk was foreign minister in the Czech government in exile in the UK and retained that post until 10 March 1948, when he was found dead beneath the window of his third-floor apartment at the Foreign Ministry’s Černín Palace.

  • Portraits highlight Czech resistance stories

    08.03. 2018

    The Václav Havel library, in cooperation with photographer Pavel Hroch, has recently launched an online exhibition called ‘The Faces of Resistance’. The project presents portraits and texts about 50 people who over a span of many decades stood up to political repression and brutality and who in certain moments displayed courage and a will to freedom.

  • Only Czech in space Remek recalls historic flight, 40 years on

    02.03. 2018

    Friday is the 40th anniversary of the day Vladimír Remek became the first, and so far only, Czech in space. In fact the cosmonaut was the first non-citizen of the US or USSR to leave the earth’s atmosphere when he took part in the Soviet Union’s Soyuz 28 mission in 1978.

  • The return of the Brno mummy!

    01.03. 2018

    There is a place in Moravia where you can see real mummies. They are not as old as those in Egypt, but old enough to generate genuine scientific interest among anthropologists at Masaryk University in Brno. Vít Pohanka made the trip to eastern Czechia and found out that quite soon one of the mummies might be brought back to (virtual) life.

  • Communist coup confirmed Czechoslovak reality but was wake-up call for West

    24.02. 2018

    For around 40 years, so-called Victorious February was sacred for the Czechoslovak communist regime. The period from around February 17 and culminating on February 25 marked the party’s seizure of power when leader Klement Gottwald was finally named as prime minister of a communist dominated government.

  • 1948 Communist takeover seals country’s fate for four decades

    24.02. 2018

    On February 25, 1948, the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of hard-line, authoritarian rule. The Communist takeover was enabled by the party’s election success in 1946 and the resignation of the government’s remaining democratic ministers in February of 1948. President Edvard Beneš’ decision to confirm the Communists in power rather than dissolve the government and call new elections sealed the country’s fate for decades to come.

  • WWII RAF fighter pilot Miroslav Liškutín dies at 98

    20.02. 2018

    Miroslav Liškutín, one of the last Czechoslovak fighter pilots who served with the British RAF during WWII, died in Great Britain on Monday at the age of 98. Last year, the veteran pilot was promoted to the rank of brigadier general by the Czech head of state. The head of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, General Jiří Bečvář, had praise for the hero and his contribution during the war.

  • Sylva Šimsová: Escaping to freedom all I thought about was survival – the fear came later

    19.02. 2018

    Sylva Šimsová was 18 when her father, a Social Democrat politician, told her the family had to escape from Czechoslovakia. It was 1949, a year after the Communists had taken power. The young Sylva insisted that her fiancé, whom she had met through her beloved scouts only six months earlier, come with them. Remarkably, almost 70 years later she and her husband – a composer and broadcaster who goes by the name Karel Janovický – are still together.

  • My father, the RAF hero who defected from Czechoslovakia in a daring triple-hijack

    12.02. 2018

    Fearing prison in Communist Czechoslovakia, in March 1950 Oldřich Doležal and other ex-RAF aviators simultaneously kidnapped three planes on internal flights and escaped to West Germany. On board one of those planes was Doležal’s son, then just an infant. Today Tom Dolezal runs the Czechoslovak Free Airforce website and is an authority on the Czech and Slovaks who served in the RAF.

  • Lisa Miková: I volunteered to go to Auschwitz

    10.02. 2018

    Since her early childhood in the 1920s, Lisa Miková had dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. When as a student she started submitting her designs to one of the best Prague salons, there was every reason to think that her dream would come true. But Lisa was Jewish, and the German occupation brought her studies to an abrupt end. In 1942, at the age of twenty, she was sent with her parents to the Terezín Ghetto. There she fell in love with a young engineer called František, and in the tough conditions of the ghetto they married. Miraculously they both survived Auschwitz, and after the war enjoyed fifty years of married life together. David Vaughan went to see Lisa Miková, who has just celebrated her 96th birthday, at Prague’s Hagibor Jewish old people’s home.

  • Ivan Hartl: A one-man international branch of the Czech underground

    03.02. 2018

    Ivan Hartl has been living in the UK since the late 1960s. From there he helped run banned literature into his native Czechoslovakia with Palach Press, as well as promoting internationally the persecuted rock band The Plastic People of the Universe.

  • Jaroslava Doležalová - a story of bravery and inequality

    01.02. 2018

    Jaroslava Doležalová has become an honorary citizen of her home town Žďár nad Sázavou. She hid a little Jewish girl during WW II and probably saved her life, risking her own and her husband's in the process. Hardly anybody knew about it for a very long time and it has only been brought to public attention now, more than seven decades later. So, Mrs. Doležalová in the 93rd year of her life receives well-deserved, even if long-delayed, accolades and praise. But her story also reveals something less praiseworthy about the Czech attitude toward women.

  • New doc uncovers mission that saved scores of Jewish children

    24.01. 2018

    A new Czech Television documentary, Barbican: Forgotten Mission, tells the previously unknown story of how around 100 Jewish children were air-bridged to the UK from Prague in early 1939. The organisers were a Christian group focused on converting Jews and their actions predated the well-known kindertransports run by Sir Nicholas Winton, though he was involved. The film’s director Jiří František Potužník says the story began with an archive photo of a small boy and a pilot.

  • Czech video game relives drama following Heydrich assassination

    23.01. 2018

    The Czech educational game ‘Attentat 1942’ about the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia will be competing at the prestigious world Independent Games Festival. The project, developed by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, tells a story of the occupation through the eyes of survivors.

  • Czechs mark bicentenary of postal service

    23.01. 2018

    An exhibition marking 200 years since the introduction of post boxes in the Czech lands is currently on display at Prague’s Postal Museum. On display are mailboxes from various periods of history as well as related objects. Among other thing, visitors can see the country’s oldest existing post box, dating back to the 1830s.

  • The Bohemian crown jewels: facts and legend

    20.01. 2018

    Thousands of people braved the cold this week, queuing up for hours in rain and snow, for a rare chance to see the Bohemian crown jewels which went on display at Prague Castle on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Who were the coronation jewels made for and what are some of the legends attached to them? Czech Radio spoke with the jeweler whose family has been in charge of their maintenance for years.

  • Franz Fühmann and the Sudetenland dreaming

    13.01. 2018

    Franz Fühmann (1922-1984) was one of East Germany’s most widely read writers. He is also one of few that have stood the test of time. He grew up in Czechoslovakia in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, a small town in the mountains close to what was then the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. This provided the setting for several of his stories, drawing from his pre-war memories of the Sudetenland. They form part of his 1962 collection The Jew Car which is now available in English, published by Seagull Books and translated by Isabel Cole. David Vaughan takes a closer look at one of the stories, The Defence of the Reichenberg Gymnasium, set as Hitler was poised to annex the Sudetenland.

  • Highly valuable artefacts relating to Czech statehood now on show

    11.01. 2018

    The first part of a major exhibition marking the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia has got underway at Prague Castle. It offers a rare, if brief, opportunity to see extremely valuable artefacts considered the very foundations of Czech statehood.

  • Astronomical clock to regain some, but not all, original parts

    08.01. 2018

    One of Prague’s most famous sights, the astronomical clock at the city’s Old Town Hall, has been temporarily removed. The medieval clock is set to undergo months of restoration work that will see the return of several, but not all, of its original elements.

  • Fifty years since Alexander Dubček took over at top of Czechoslovak communist party

    05.01. 2018

    Fifty years ago on January 5, 1968, the news came out of the ongoing central committee party meeting of the Czechoslovak communist party that Slovak, Alexander Dubček, had been chosen as the new party boss. Dubček was little known in Czech circles but his name would soon be known around the country and the world.

  • Czechs mark 25 years since Velvet Divorce

    01.01. 2018

    Czechs and Slovaks are marking 25 years since the break-up of Czechoslovakia and the birth of two independent republics in the heart of Europe. What led to the so-called Velvet Divorce after more than seventy years of a common state and was it inevitable? How do Czechs and Slovaks feel about the break-up today? And have the two neighbor states managed to retain the special relationship born of many years of close co-existence? Find out in Radio Prague’s mini-series devoted to the break-up of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago.

  • Death of defendant brings 1950s kulak expulsion case to close

    29.12. 2017

    A Prague court has halted a case centred on Communist persecution of kulaks following the death of a man believed to have been the country’s oldest defendant. His alleged crimes took place in the early 1950s when Czechoslovak agriculture was being collectivised, often using extremely harsh measures.

  • President Havel remembered with nostalgia as Czechs reflect on present-day morals

    19.12. 2017

    Czechs have marked six years since the death of the country’s first president and the icon of the Velvet Revolution Václav Havel. Commemorative acts took place in Prague and Brno as well as in Hrádeček, the president’s beloved country retreat, where he died on December 18, 2011.

  • Economic differences underpinned Czechoslovak divorce

    15.12. 2017

    "It’s the economy stupid." That phrase underlying US president Bill Clinton’s first election campaign sums up one of the major fault lines in Czech-Slovak relations in the 20th century and many of the reasons for the eventual divorce. Separated, the two countries initially followed different paths, but the outcome has been surprisingly similar with one notable exception, the euro.

  • Architects of Czechoslovak divorce say 25 years on that it was inevitable

    12.12. 2017

    The two main architects of the separation of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago exceptionally shared the same platform in Prague on Monday to give their version of why the dramatic move was necessary and how it played out. Not surprisingly, both the former Czech and Slovak politicians agreed wholeheartedly that history had proved them right.

  • “Winton child” Lord Alfred Dubs: I was luckier than most – I was met by my father in the UK

    11.12. 2017

    Today a life peer in Britain’s House of Lords, Alfred Dubs was just six years old when he became one of over 660 Jewish children saved from Nazi-occupied Prague by Sir Nicholas Winton. The Labour politician last year made headlines for attaching an amendment to an immigration bill that offered unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain, though the UK authorities later largely abandoned the scheme. When we spoke recently in London, I asked Lord Dubs – now 85 – about his own beginnings in the UK and attitudes to refugees today. But we began with his family background.

  • Twenty-five years after divorce, Czechs and Slovaks closer than ever

    08.12. 2017

    In 2018 Czechs and Slovaks will jointly mark the centenary of the birth of independent Czechoslovakia. At the same time the two nations will look back on 1993, the year that their coexistence in a common state of Czechs and Slovaks ended in divorce. In the first part of Radio Prague’s miniseries on the Velvet Divorce we look at why Czechoslovakia broke up.

  • When Václav Havel allied himself with the hairy musicians

    07.12. 2017

    Václav Havel has been the subject of many books and quite a few have been devoted to the so-called Czechoslovak underground, the cultural movement which above all in music but also through literature and art ignored the desires and instructions of the ruling communist party. But while the link between the two has often been made, a new book bluntly argues that without the support of the underground, dissident leader Havel would have been nowhere in creating a coherent opposition.