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Czech history

News and updates about Prague and the Czech Republic

Information and news about Czech history

   ©   Czech Tourism    ©   Czech Tourism

  • Doris Grozdanovičová: the girl with the sheep in Terezín

    15.07. 2017

    One of the most memorable images of the wartime ghetto in Terezín is of a young girl standing in the middle of a flock of sheep. Taking photographs was strictly forbidden, and it is remarkable that this image and a number of others showing the same incongruously pastoral scene have been preserved. Miraculously, the girl in the pictures also survived, unlike the great majority of the tens of thousands of European Jews who passed through the ghetto between 1942 and 1945. Doris Grozdanovičová went on to have a successful career as a literary editor and became friends with many post-war Czech writers, including Václav Havel. Now an energetic 91-year-old, Doris continues to travel, telling people about her wartime experiences. And she has never forgotten how a flock of sheep helped her to survive the horrors of the ghetto. David Vaughan went to meet her.

  • Archaeologists map out precise contours of Nazi-era Lety concentration camp

    13.07. 2017

    A team of archaeologists from the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň say they have succeeded in mapping out the contours of the former Lety concentration camp, used during the Second World War to imprison Czech Roma.

  • Waiting for Winton: rail station pays tribute to British hero

    11.07. 2017

    Another tribute has been paid to Sir Nicolas Winton, the British man who helped to save 669, mostly Jewish children, from Czechoslovakia prior to the outbreak of World War II. On Tuesday, a lounge at Prague’s Main Train Station was named after Mr Winton, who died in July 2015 at the age of 106.

  • Czechs mark 20 years since worst floods in human memory

    11.07. 2017

    The month of July, 1997 brought devastating floods to Central Europe. The flooding began in the Czech Republic, then spread to Poland and Germany taking the lives of close to 100 people, destroying towns and infrastructure and leaving thousands of people displaced.

  • Czechs mark Battle of Zborov centenary

    01.07. 2017

    Czechs are marking the centenary of the Battle of Zborov, where Czechoslovak legionaries joined the Kerensky Offensive, the last Russian offensive in WW I. From a global point of view this battle was a minor episode in the Great War and one in which the Russian forces were beaten. However it was a crucial moment for the future of the Czechoslovak legionaries, the Czechoslovak resistance and the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.

  • “Last Address” project commemorates victims who were executed or whose deaths were hastened by Communist regime

    27.06. 2017

    The country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes on Tuesday launched a new project to commemorate victims of former Czechoslovakia’s communist regime. Called “Last Address”, the idea was inspired by similar initiatives in Russia. Within the project, plaques will be installed at victims’ final addresses – recalling their lives and what they stood for, for which they died.

  • Historian Igor Lukeš: Exile was much easier during the Cold War

    26.06. 2017

    Professor Igor Lukeš teaches at Boston University and has written extensively on modern Czech history, the Cold War and contemporary developments in Central and Eastern Europe. When we spoke recently the conversation took in everything from his increasingly sympathetic view of Neville Chamberlain to his own arrival in New York in the late 1970s. But I first asked the renowned historian about his early life in communist Czechoslovakia.

  • Lidice, 75 years later: “A place of hope and tragedy”

    10.06. 2017

    June 10 is the anniversary of one of the worst atrocities in modern Czech history. On that day, in retaliation for the killing of governor Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazis slaughtered the inhabitants of Lidice and completely demolished the small village, intending to wipe it off the map for eternity. Today the spot where the original Lidice stood is a deeply sombre, open plain with an adjacent museum. Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the notorious act of barbarism, I visited the head of the Lidice Memorial, Martina Lehmannová. She told me what the village looked like prior to June 10, 1942.

  • A true act of solidarity: How Barnett Stross and the miners of Stoke-On-Trent helped rebuild Lidice

    09.06. 2017

    When the Nazis razed the Czech village of Lidice to the ground and murdered its inhabitants in June 1942, it sparked horror and anger across the globe. One place where the atrocity struck a particularly deep cord was Stoke-on-Trent, an industrial city in England’s West Midlands. Within months, the local Labour politician Barnett Stross had founded Lidice Shall Live, an international campaign to raise money to rebuild the Czech village. On the eve of the 75th anniversary of Lidice’s obliteration, I discussed the powerful story of solidarity with Alan Gerrard of Lidice Lives, a contemporary Stoke-on-Trent-based group. What was it, I asked Gerrard, that had led Stross to create Lidice Shall Live?

  • UK group Lidice Lives taking part in 75th anniversary commemorations

    08.06. 2017

    Among many who have come to the Czech Republic to mark this Saturday’s 75th anniversary of the Nazis’ annihilation of Lidice is Alan Gerrard of the group Lidice Lives, which is based in the UK city of Stoke-on-Trent. It is a kind of social media-based successor to Lidice Shall Live, a major initiative to rebuild the Czech village launched in Stoke in September 1942 by the politician Sir Barnett Stross. When we spoke, I asked Gerrard whether he had been inspired by Stross’s work.

  • Spartakiady: mass events that exercised the Czechoslovak Communist regime

    07.06. 2017

    Spartakiads, or Spartakiady, mass gymnastic exercises, were a unique event of their kind in Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime. Historian Petr Roubal has put the phenomenon under the spotlight and the result is an award winning book looking at the various events and how they evolved over time. I asked him how much did the first Spartakiad in 1955 differ the similar mass events or Slets, organised previously by the Czech Sokol movement.

  • Empress Maria Theresa: an enlightened ruler who recognized the value of education for all

    27.05. 2017

    In this edition of our miniseries, marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Empress Maria Theresa, we look at one of the most important reforms she introduced: compulsory schooling for all, which set the foundations for a centralized education system, the basics of which remain to this day.

  • Last days: The heroes of Operation Anthropoid at Prague’s Cyril and Methodius Church

    27.05. 2017

    Seventy-five years ago, on May 27, 1942, Czechoslovak parachutists dropped into Bohemia carried out one of the most daring actions of World War II, the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The heroes of Operation Anthropoid later hid in the Church of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in central Prague, where they met their deaths following a massive SS siege on June 18. Join us on a visit to that church.

  • Czech historians race to record recollections of anti-Communist resistance

    26.05. 2017

    Historians are in a race against time to record the recollections of those who took part in resistance to the Communist regime in the early 1950s. They have had one advantage, a law encouraging many to come forward and reveal their previously untold stories.

  • 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.