A new book on Communist Czechoslovakia was launched under the auspices of the Minister of Foreign Affairs at Prague’s Czernin Palace this week. Titled Czechoslovakia: Behind the Iron Curtain, it tracks the history of the communist state, through a combination of narrative, contemporary pictures and extensive oral history in over 600 pages. It was penned by two female Slovak academics Dr Gabriela Beregházyová and Dr Zuzana Palovič. After the official ceremony was ended by a symbolic ringing of keys, I asked Dr Palovič how the idea to write the publication
The Czech government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Helena Válková (ANO) is under pressure after the news site Info.cz accused her of defending laws used against dissidents during the normalisation era, providing an article on “protective surveillance” that she penned with a famous show trial procurator in 1979 as evidence. Mrs Válková told Czech Radio that the accusation was a “horrendous lie”. However, the opposition has called for her resignation and even the prime minister says that the allegations need to be explained.
Former minister of justice and current government commissioner for human
rights, Helena Válková, defended laws against dissidents during the
Communist regime, the news site info.cz reported on Thursday.
At the turn of the 1970s and 80s, Mrs Válková published a series of articles in which she defended measures used by the Communist regime to restrict the rights of its opponents, the website writes.
It also says she collaborated on writing one of her articles with the state prosecutor Josef Urválek, who was responsible for securing the death sentences of Milada Horáková, Rudolf Slánský and others in 1950s Communist show trials.
Mrs Válková, whom President Miloš Zeman recently proposed for the post of the Czech Republic’s ombudswoman, denied any wrongdoing, saying the article was insulting and untruthful.
In this programme, the eighth in our series mapping this country’s history through the radio archives, we start with the dramatic events of the last days of the war in Prague. The radio played a major role in the Prague Uprising, and through the archives we can map how the city liberated itself from the German occupiers. In the two years that follow, the radio archives give us a picture of a Czechoslovakia returning to some kind of normality, but in February 1948 everything changes. We tell the story as it was heard on the airwaves.
Thirty years ago this Christmas, Czechs were in an especially festive spirit – the entire Communist Party leadership had resigned a month before, and in a matter of days a majority democratic parliament would elect Václav Havel as president, bringing the Velvet Revolution to a glorious end. Ahead of the holiday, I spoke to Adéla and Petr Mucha – a historian and theologian, respectively, born into practicing Catholic families under Communism – about their experiences with the “Underground Church”, religious figures active in the dissident Charter 77
A group of historians, educators and archivists – including from Czech Radio – has rolled out a digital app designed to stimulate students’ interest in using primary sources. The overall aim of the HistoryLab project is to develop students’ historical literary and critical thinking, and help teachers craft interactive, multimedia lesson plans.
The once picturesque village of Libkovice lay nestled in a small valley not far from the hilltop where legend has it the primal Father Čech decided his people would settle in Bohemian. Founded nearly a millennium ago, Libkovice was the last town slated for liquidation after 1989 to make way for coal mining operations. Its residents, together with environmental activists faced off against freshly minted capitalists in an ultimately futile battle to save the village, which lay above a rich seam of coal. But the sad story has one silver lining: the
The Czech police’s Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of
Communism have initiated the prosecution of three senior figures from the
pre-1989 Communist regime. One-time Communist Party general secretary
Miloš Jakeš, former prime minister Lubomír Štrougal and ex-interior
minister Vratislav Vajnar are accused of abuse of office in connection with
the use of firearms on the borders of the then Czechoslovakia, a
representative of the Prague 1 state attorney’s office, Jan Lelek, said
The three top Communists were aware the border patrol service were using guns to shoot people crossing the border without authorisation but did nothing to stop them, Mr. Lelek said.
The Office for the Documentation of the Crimes of Communism said that because of the inaction of the three officials between 1976 and 1989 nine people were either shot dead or killed by dogs while attempting to cross the border into the West; at least seven others were injured.
After attending commemorations in Prague earlier on Sunday, Czech Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš flew to Slovakia to honour the victims of communism.
The ceremony took place at the Freedom Gate memorial near the Slovak castle
of Děvín by the border with Austria, where many died while trying to
cross the tightly guarded border with the West during the Cold War.
Mr. Babiš laid a wreath at the memorial and said that it was important that Czechs and Slovaks were celebrating 30 years since gaining freedom and democracy. Above all, he stressed the importance of free elections, something, that he said was the most important goal of the Civic Forum and its Slovak equivalent, Public against violence, at the time.
His Slovak counterpart Peter Pellegrini said that it is precisely the Freedom Gate memorial which shows the tragic nature of the communist regime.
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