14-09-2008

Today in Mailbox: Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic or Czechia – what’s in a name?; response to a recent Letter from Prague; the proposed US radar base in the Czech Republic; how to access the Archive of Czech Security Forces. Listeners quoted: Stefan Lager, Aloisie Krasny, Táňa Ferus, Ragnar, Lynda-Marie Hauptman.

Hello and thanks for tuning in to Mailbox, the programme that gives you, the listeners, a chance to voice your opinions regarding Radio Prague broadcasts. We’ve got quite a few e-mails to quote today so let’s get down to it.

A recent Talking Point by Dominik Jůn entitled “Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic or Czechia – what’s in a name?” has inspired several of our listeners to share their opinion. Stefan Lager, writes from the Czech Republic:

“Interesting article. It is worse when the young directors of Telekom Austria keep on saying Czechoslovakia. I am Swedish and I previously worked in New York. Once when I mentioned where I'm from I got the answer: Wow, it's such a great country. I was in Zurich once and it was beautiful!”

And Aloisie Krasny from Sydney, Australia who calls herself “a half Czech who has lived in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic” writes:

“Is it Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic? My father was born in Czechoslovakia as were my grandparents and great grandparents and so and so forth. Does it really matter if people use either or both of these names, it is still a great place, rich in history, culture, language, tradition and great people. When people talk about Czechoslovakia it gives me the opportunity of politely giving them a little history lesson, a chance to 'spread the word', as we say in English! When the Czechs came to Sydney on a trade mission a few years ago, the slogan for the exhibition was 'The Little Big Country in the Heart of Europe' that sums it up!”

Táňa Ferus who lives in Canada wrote in to comment on Jan Velinger’s recent Letter from Prague:

“How familiar his family's story is to mine. My parents escaped shortly after the invasion with friends. Stopping for a short time in Switzerland they too settled in Canada, married and the rest is my history. Although I did not have ‘blood relatives’ beyond my parents and sister, their long-time friends and children became my extended family. And yes, we too speak that odd mix of Czech and English... ‘Czenglish’ we call it, or ‘Čanglicky’. I still have those early gifts from my grandmother: children's books and a blue stuffed rabbit.

"I enjoyed going through my mother's old photographs. And when I was old enough to understand what had gone on in 1968, I too was upset almost beyond control... though incredibly thankful that my parents took those steps and ended up in Canada. Since the Velvet Revolution, we've been making up for lost time with our family overseas. We first returned in 1990, and now go back whenever possible (got back from a trip last month). It was so lovely to read Jan's letter. Thanks for sharing!”

It’s not very often that we get mail from Iceland. Our listener who signed only as Ragnar is writing on the US radar station to be built in the Czech Republic:

“I have been several times to the Czech Republic. I love your country, love the forests there and the landscape. Please, don't let the proposed ugly radar base ruin your people's health. The radar will cause health problems because of the reflected radiation. Czech people are beautiful and nice, don't ruin the future for your children.”

As you know we keep getting e-mails voicing opinions both in favour and against the planned radar base. If you feel strongly about this or any other topic related to the Czech Republic, why don’t you drop us a line. The address will follow shortly.

Lynda-Marie Hauptman from the United States was one of many people who have written in to ask how to contact the Archive of Czech Security Forces which recently made public former military counter-intelligence files. “I just read the following article in today's bulletin, and I was wondering if there will ever be any way to access these files. I am especially interested, because my father may be in these files, and I would like to know what that file contains. Dad told me that had he returned to Czechoslovakia, the Communist authorities would have executed him as a traitor. Do you know who I would contact to ask about this?”

The documents were made accessible in July at the Archive’s website http://www.abscr.cz/. They also have a contact page. The database contains details on some 140,000 people, the oldest records dating back to 1954 – the most recent to 1989, when the communist regime fell in Czechoslovakia.

 

Our time is almost up today which means we need to repeat our September competition question.

Our September mystery Czech was born in 1926 in Ostrava, into a Jewish family. At age 13 he was among the hundreds of children rescued from Czechoslovakia by Sir Nicholas Winton. He studied at Oxford and later became one of the leading directors of the 1960s new wave of British cinema.

Please send us your answers to english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Four of you who answer correctly will receive small gifts from Radio Prague. I’d like to point out that answers copied and pasted from internet sources, such as Wikipedia, will be disregarded unless the source is duly credited. That’s it for today, please keep those letters coming and until next Sunday, take care.

14-09-2008