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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

  • Days of the Jackal: International terrorists in communist Prague

    23.09. 2017

    Why did Prague become a base for notorious terrorists such as Carlos the Jackal in the 1970s and ‘80s? And why did the local Communists want them out?

  • Hana Marritz: Escape to the West, aged three

    18.09. 2017

    When Hana Marritz’s father became a marked man following the Communist takeover, her family had to make an arduous escape across the Iron Curtain.

  • Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk: Seeing and listening to the jungles of our human society

    14.09. 2017

    Eighty years ago this week, Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk died at the age of eighty-seven. He had led the country from its independence in 1918 for the next seventeen years, enjoying immense popularity throughout that time. Masaryk was known widely as the “President Liberator” and “Father of the Nation”, but although this popularity often slipped into hero-worship, he remained a lifelong democrat and humanist, in stark contrast with many of the world leaders emerging in the 1920s and 1930s. His values are reflected in several recordings of and about President Masaryk that are preserved in the Czech Radio archives. Some of them remain strikingly relevant even to our own time. David Vaughan has more.

  • 50 years of the D1, the country’s oldest motorway

    08.09. 2017

    Construction work began on the Czech Republic’s oldest and busiest motorway exactly 50 years ago. But the D1 is still not finished.

  • Paul Robeson in Czechoslovakia: all culture comes from the people

    26.08. 2017

    The Civil Rights Movement in the United States sent ripples around the world, not least in the Soviet Union and its satellites. In Czechoslovakia, events were followed closely, as the struggle for the rights of African Americans became a weapon in the ideological battles between East and West. Czech Radio’s archives house several recordings of Civil Rights activists, who visited Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989 or were interviewed at home in the United States. One was the singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, who came to this country several times. Working with journalism students from the Anglo-American University in Prague, David Vaughan looks back to Robeson’s celebrated but controversial visit to Prague at the end of the 1950s.

  • Shapely Czech Venus reveals secrets

    23.08. 2017

    First results from a scan of the famous Venus of Dolní Věstonice show it was made from one piece of clay from the local site.

  • Then Czechoslovak Radio boss recalls August 1968

    21.08. 2017

    On the 49th anniversary of the Soviet invasion, then Czechoslovak Radio chief Karel Lanský recalls that fateful time.

  • Rare photos of 1968 invasion discovered

    21.08. 2017

    Czech Radio has brought readers rare, as yet unpublished photographs of the 1968 Russian-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The photos were taken by Polish geologist Leszek Sawicki who was attending a conference in Prague at the time and was trapped in the capital city for several days after the invasion. Mr. Sawicki died earlier this year and the photos have come to Czech Radio courtesy of his wife who discovered them among his belongings.

  • Jan Urban: I returned to Czechoslovakia a day before the 1968 invasion

    21.08. 2017

    This August 21 marks the 49th anniversary of the Russian-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Wenceslas Square in Prague has been a pivotal location throughout Czech history, and that certainly applies to 1968, when Soviet tanks symbolically “conquered” Czechoslovakia by taking over this thoroughfare. Jan Urban is a journalist, teacher and author. He was just seventeen years old at the time of the invasion. He joined me at the bottom of Wenceslas Square to think back on those turbulent and painful days that marked the end of the Prague Spring.

  • Historians pin down number of 1968 invasion victims

    18.08. 2017

    A new book by Czech historians specifies the number of victims of the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia. According to the book, called Occupation 1968 and its Victims, a total of 137 Czechs and Slovaks died as a result of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and 400 people in the following years.

  • Gay under Communism: Part 2

    18.08. 2017

    Under Communism, being gay or lesbian was essentially taboo and many still preferred to live with the secret rather than come out. In this second part of a story begun on August 17, Jana Kociánová describes how her secret was eventually uncovered. How, an artistic environment in Prague allowed some room to be who she really was and how that forced her to be open about her sexuality although the era of so-called ‘normalisation’ was did not encourage those who stepped out of line.

  • Gay under Communism: Part 1

    17.08. 2017

    Under Communism, being gay or lesbian was essentially taboo. Homosexuality was de-criminalized in the former Czechoslovakia from 1962, a lot earlier than in many west European countries, but attitudes did not change as a result.

  • Memories sought to give personal perspective on Czech history

    16.08. 2017

    A travelling exhibition called the National Chronicle is now on display at the Václav Havel Square besides Prague’s National Theatre. It presents the outcomes of a project carried out by the Charter 77 Foundation along with the National Museum in which seniors share their memories of the past in order to document and preserve the memory of the nation.

  • Jubilant return of Czechoslovak RAF men commemorated 72 years on

    14.08. 2017

    A remembrance ceremony is being held in Prague on Monday early evening marking the 72nd anniversary of the return of Czechoslovak aviators who served with Britain’s RAF during WWII. Among those in attendance is set to be one of the last surviving Czech RAF men, Brigadier General Emil Boček.

  • Czechoslovak paratrooper Jaroslav Klemeš dies at the age of 95

    08.08. 2017

    Brigadier General Jaroslav Klemeš, the last Czechoslovak paratrooper flown into the Protectorate during World War II, has died. Defence Minister Martin Stropnický confirmed the news in a tweet on Monday, offering his condolences to the family.

  • Culture minister: sale of Lety pig farm is “done deal”

    01.08. 2017

    Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman has announced an important breakthrough in the government’s efforts to secure the buy-out of an offensive pig farm in Lety, South Bohemia located on the site of a former concentration camp where hundreds of Roma died in inhumane conditions in WWII. The company that owns the farm has now agreed to sell it to the state, opening the way for a dignified memorial to the victims to be built on the grounds.

  • “There are three ghosts here, three ghosts and a unicorn” – tracing haunted Prague with Raymond Johnston

    31.07. 2017

    One attraction for visitors to Prague is the city’s unusually rich history of magic and alchemy. The Czech capital also has more than its fair share of haunted places – around 130 in the Old and New Towns alone, according to American Raymond Johnston. A well-known journalist in Prague for many years, Johnston has now created an interactive map chiefly intended for smartphones that makes it easy to get on the trail of the city’s phantoms and legends. As we sat recently outside the 14th century St. Peter’s Church at Na Poříčí, he explained how the map came about.

  • Three former Communist secret police officers charged for their role in infamous Asanace campaign

    28.07. 2017

    The police have charged three former members of the Communist era secret police, the StB, for their role in Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Sixteen former members of the secret police have stood trial and been convicted for intimidating or using violence against dissidents, but the main organizer of the campaign, Jaromír Obzina died before he could be tried.

  • Culture Minister says buyout of controversial pig farm at Lety only weeks away

    26.07. 2017

    The country’s culture minister, Daniel Herman, has said that the government could buy out a controversial pig farm in Lety, South Bohemia, in a matter of weeks. If completed, it would mean the removal of a farm which has been an insult to victims of the Romani genocide for decades: the farm stands largely on the site of a former labour and WWII concentration camp where Roma citizens were interned and hundreds died.

  • “My granny always called them ‘the boys’” – how Kubiš and Gabčík were taken in by England’s Ellison family

    22.07. 2017

    Just over 75 years after their deaths, Sunday will see the unveiling of a monument to the Operation Anthropoid heroes Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík in the small English village of Ightfield, where they spent a lot of time prior to their historic mission.

  • 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.

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