Czech history

News and updates about Prague and the Czech Republic

Information and news about Czech history

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  • Listening sessions at a Prague cinema: Czech Radio’s first broadcasts recalled, 95 years later

    17.05. 2018

    Czech Radio is on Friday marking the 95th anniversary of the station’s first ever broadcast from a military airfield in Prague. The public will be able to join in celebrations the following day in the form of an open day and a free concert at a nearby park.

  • Czechs showcase destruction and conservation of Syrian heritage during civil war

    09.05. 2018

    Czechs have been in the forefront of worldwide attempts to save Syria’s significant archaeological heritage. The Czech National Museum has been one of the major players in those moves and on Wednesday it opened an exhibition in Prague outlining what has been lost and what has been saved during the country’s civil war.

  • Mobile museum tracks Czechoslovaks epic fights and flight from Russia

    08.05. 2018

    A mobile museum on rails is criss-crossing the Czech Republic is a bid to recreate the exploits of Czech soldiers serving in allied armies during WWI. The main focus is on the so-called Czechoslovak legionnaires in Russia, when they started out fighting against Austro-Hungarian and German armies and eventually found themselves battling the new Bolshevik regime in an epic struggle along around 5,000 kilometres of the Trans-Siberian railway.

  • Wife of a WWII war hero: Zuzana Wienerová

    08.05. 2018

    Zuzana Wienerová emigrated to the United States in the 1960’s with her late husband, RAF pilot and World War II hero Jan Wiener. Mr. Wiener was imprisoned by the Communists for five years after returning from Britain. We spoke today about their romantic love story, their life in the U.S. and the challenges they faced. I first asked her how she and her husband met.

  • The US Army and the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945

    05.05. 2018

    At the beginning of May 1945 fighting was still going on in Prague. The Czech lands were one of the last places in Europe where people were dying even after the official end of hostilities between the German Army and the Allies on May 8. There was a last-minute uprising in the Czech capital and the US 3rd Army was only some 80 kilometers (or about 50 miles) away, near the western city of Plzeň.

  • Prague archaeologists shed light on medieval city

    03.05. 2018

    The City of Prague Museum has published the results of two unique archaeological digs carried out in the centre of the city. Among the discoveries are everyday objects from Wenceslas Square dating to back to Medieval Times which shed light on everyday life. They also include a rare statuette of a Madonna.

  • I was very keen on teaching the Germans a lesson, says Tomáš Lom, one of few surviving Czech RAF vets

    28.04. 2018

    Tomáš Lom is one of the very few surviving Czechoslovaks who served in Britain’s RAF during World War II. Born Tomáš Löwenstein into a Jewish family in Prague, he signed up in London the moment he turned 18 and ended up serving as a wireless operator in the Bahamas in the latter period of the conflict.

  • Dissident group that aided political prisoners recalled, 40 years later

    26.04. 2018

    Friday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most significant dissident organisations in communist Czechoslovakia. The Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted helped the families of victims of the regime and succeeded in winning international attention for political prisoners.

  • Fighter against dictatorships: Cardinal Josef Beran

    23.04. 2018

    Archbishop, later Cardinal, Josef Beran, become a symbol of opposition to totalitarian regimes. He was dubbed the archbishop who refused to be silenced. The punishment for speaking out was imprisonment first under the Nazi occupation and then the Communists. In this week’s Czechs in History we look at Josef Beran’s exemplary life on the 40th anniversary of his death in exile.

  • Czech Cardinal’s last wish to be respected after almost 50 years

    20.04. 2018

    The remains of exiled Czech Cardinal Josef Beran have been taken from the Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica. On Friday, they will be flown to Prague and later buried in Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral. Cardinal Beran was exiled to Rome in 1965 and died there four years later. He was buried in the Vatican because the communist authorities didn’t approve his final wish for his body to be returned to his homeland.

  • Charlotta Kotik: the independent great-granddaughter of the first Czechoslovak president TGM

    14.04. 2018

    Czechs have only one president instantly recognizable by his initials: TGM for Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. He was an icon of the newly-independent Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1935. Venerated by most, denigrated only by some, he has always remained a powerful symbol of the Czech democratic state. I recently met with Charlotta Kotik, the great-granddaughter of the first Czechoslovak president, to talk about her family heritage.

  • Former US ambassador to Prague, William Luers, on what it was like to serve in Communist Czechoslovakia

    12.04. 2018

    Former US ambassador to Czechoslovakia William Luers and his wife Wendy recently visited Prague and gave a talk at the American Centre about what it was like to be posted in Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, how they were able to support dissidents such as Václav Havel and how they later helped the country on the road to democracy. I spoke to them after the debate and began by asking the former ambassador what it had been like to serve behind the Iron Curtain.

  • Martin Šmok: Long-standing constructs of enemy being used to fuel levels of hatred unseen since war

    09.04. 2018

    Martin Šmok moved to the US in the 1990s to work with the USC Shoah Foundation, which has recorded video interviews with more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors. Long back in Prague, he remains a senior international program consultant with the project and is also active in the field of education. When we spoke, the conversation took in Czech attitudes to the Holocaust, “constructs of the enemy” in Czech society and more. But I first asked Šmok how he had been shaped by working with the testimonies of Holocaust survivors for over two decades.

  • Czech UNESCO listed documentary treasures go on show

    06.04. 2018

    An exhibition showcasing items and documents from Czech collections recently listed on a UNESCO list of world documentary treasures has got underway in Prague. Visitors can see the Great Siege of Malta Map from the 16th century, the Kynžvart daguerreotype or items from composer Leoš Janáček’s archive.

  • Czechs mark anniversary of revival of scouting movement during Prague Spring

    29.03. 2018

    Members of the Czech scouting movement are marking the 50th anniversary the movement’s short-lived revival in communist Czechoslovakia in 1968. The scouts were banned a total of three times in their more than 100-year-long history in the Czech lands: first by the Nazis and then twice by the Communist regime.

  • The Czech-led naval mutiny during World War One

    24.03. 2018

    Despite coming from a landlocked country, Czechs played a major role in the Austro-Hungarian fleet. And during WWI they also took a leading role in the most serious mutiny to hit the fleet towards the close of the conflict.

  • Restoring rediscovered film of Czechoslovak communist show trial to take years

    22.03. 2018

    It’s been described by one historian as one of the greatest finds about the Czechoslovak communist era. Several kilometres of film and sound were recently discovered at a factory and they cover the show trial of one of the country’s top communist officials. Details of the discovery and plans for the find were revealed on Thursday.

  • RAF veteran Zbyšek Nečas-Pemberton dies at 97

    21.03. 2018

    WWII veteran Zbyšek Nečas, who flew with the No. 68 Night Fighter Squadron in the RAF, has died at the age of 97. The airman, who served as a radar operator on Bristol Beaufighters and Mosquitos, passed away at his home last week, his family revealed Wednesday.

  • 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.