Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the Ministry of Culture will designate seven sites as ‘national cultural monuments’. All of them are tied to the Czech nation’s struggle to secure freedom or rid itself of Nazi or Soviet oppression. Among them is the Czech Radio building in Prague, a focal point of resistance both in 1968 and at the close of WWII.
Czech Immigrants first started settling in Chicago in the 1850s and continued in several waves in the 20th century. Today the city has the biggest number of Czech-Americans living in the US, with localities known as ”Prague” and “Pilsen”. I recently visited Chicago for the 80th Moravian Day celebrations and took the opportunity to stop by the University of Chicago, where the tradition of Slavic studies is almost as old as the university itself.
In the first of this series we heard the voice of Czechoslovakia’s first President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. His wife Charlotte was American, and thanks to her influence Tomáš became a champion of feminism. Charlotte went on to inspire many women both within Czechoslovakia and beyond and in this programme we hear some of them, speaking in their own words from the Czech Radio archive.
President Miloš Zeman lit a bonfire at Lany chateau to mark the 82nd
anniversary of the death of Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš
Garrigue Masaryk on Saturday.
The traditional ceremony was also attended by Cardinal Dominik Duka and the honorary chairman of TOP 09 Karel Schwarzenberg.
The tradition of Masaryk bonfires goes back to 1935 when they were lit around the country to celebrate the president’s 85th birthday. The tradition was cut off by the communist regime and renewed in 2001.
We start this series with one of the great European democrats of the 20th century, Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Born in 1850, he was already in his late sixties when he became president in November 1918. He took inspiration from the western democracies, in particular the United States and Britain, having spent time in both countries during his First World War exile. But he was also a passionate European.
T.G. Masaryk’s daughter Alice was imprisoned in 1915 for treason, a charge that carried the death penalty. Her time in a grim jail in Vienna is the focus of Charlotte and Alice, a freshly published and highly illuminating collection of over 200 letters between her and her US-born mother, Charlotte Masaryk. The book is the work of Anne Johnson, an American editor and translator who lives in Brno. She explained its genesis when we spoke recently in the city.
The Czech National Bank re-issued 30,000 sets of six 20-crown coins on
Wednesday to mark the centenary of monetary separation from the former
The six coins featuring famous First Republic politicians such as Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš, as well as the first central bank governors, were first issued in 2018.
At that time, collectors could exchange them for coins of the same value. Now the cost for six coins has been set at CZK 590. Another 20,000 sets of the coins are due to go on sale this autumn.
Countless statues of Tomáš Garrique Masaryk, the founding father of Czechoslovakia and the country’s first president, were erected in town squares in the first two decades of the new democracy. Scores were torn down under the German occupation, melted down in Third Reich forges to make bullets and artillery shells. But the fate of a handful of others remains a mystery.
The first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was born exactly
169 years ago and Czech politicians as well as the wider public are
remembering the figure through a series of ceremonies. Representatives of
the government and Parliament will lay a wreath by his grave in Lány and a
special relay run will take place from the statue of Masaryk in front of
Prague Castle, which finishes in Lány.
The public can take part in a number of events being organised across Prague and other cities and towns across the country.
Wednesday marks 100 years since the establishment of the Czechoslovak branch of the International Red Cross, today known as the Czech Red Cross. It was founded and chaired by Alice Masaryková, the daughter of Czechoslovakia’s first president and a pioneer in the field of social care. Its establishment was officially approved by the president on February 6, 1919.