A new book, Fashion Behind the Iron Curtain, released by Olympia and Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) has taken on the task of mapping fashion in Czechoslovakia from 1948 – 1989, a period that followed the Second World War, the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, a brief window of democracy and freedom and itself was marked by 40 years of totalitarian rule.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a nominee put forward by President Miloš Zeman for a commission examining who should be recognised as a member of the anti-Communist resistance during the previous regime. Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Zeman’s candidate Karel Srp had done a lot for independent culture under communism. However, he said, public information showed that Mr. Srp repeatedly informed to the StB secret police. Though a court ruled in 2000 that his name had wrongfully been listed in StB records, former members of the pre-1989 underground say he did indeed inform on them to the secret police.
The head of the Confederation of Political Prisoners, Naděžda Kavalírová, has died at the age of 93. Mrs Kavalírová was actively involved in the resistance against the Communist regime. After the Communist takeover in 1948 she was expelled from the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague because of her membership in the National Socialist Party. In 1956 she was convicted of treason, and espionage and spent three years in prison. Since 2003, Mrs. Kavlírová was the chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and between the years 2007 and 2013 she also headed the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
Czechs are marking the 48th anniversary of the self-immolation of student Jan Palach, a brave protest against the loss of freedom and gradual apathy following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. One of the most painful moments of the country’s modern history, Palach’s suicide remains a powerful memento that democracy must be nurtured and defended.
Czech historians researching the totalitarian era breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday, when the Constitutional Court ruled that the accessibility of archives from that period will remain unchanged. The ruling overturns a proposal by the Supreme Court which was against an exception giving historians easy access to documents from the Nazi and Communist regimes.
Signatories of Charter 77 and other former dissidents are set to meet for a special evening of celebration and reminiscences at Prague’s Lucerna Palace on Saturday. The gathering comes one day after the 40th anniversary of the launch of the most significant protest movement in Communist Czechoslovakia. The event follows a day-long conference entitled Eye-witnesses to the Charter moderated by Petruška Šustrová, one of the 240 or so original signatories. Charter 77, a petition calling on the Communist regime to honour their commitments to human rights under the Helsinki Accords, was launched on January 6, 1977.
It is exactly 40 years since the launch, on 6 January 1977, of the landmark Charter 77 declaration. Calling on Czechoslovakia’s Communist rulers to honour their commitment to human rights under the 1975 Helsinki Accords, it was to become the dissident movement’s most significant protest against the regime.
Pioneers and Robots is the title of a new book focusing on the golden era of Czechoslovak illustration, which was recently released by the Paseka publishing house. Written by two graphic artists, the book offers an in-depth account of the development of visual arts in Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover in 1948.
A text written by Václav Havel on the first days of Charter 77 that he himself believed lost is to be published in connection with Friday’s 40th anniversary of the launch of the protest document. The 100-page text was found recently in the papers of Zdeněk Urbánek, a friend who like Mr. Havel was a leading dissident in communist Czechoslovakia. The first chapter is being published by the Václav Havel Library in a run of 500 numbered copies. The publication will be launched at a gathering on Friday outside Mr. Urbánek’s former home in Prague 6, where much of Charter 77 was written. A conference and other events are also taking place in connection with the anniversary.
Czechs will mark the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto. The text, signed by dissidents such as playwright Václav Havel, philosopher Jan Patočka and writer Pavel Kohout in January 1977, criticized Czechoslovakia’s communist regime for failing to implement human rights provisions of agreements it itself had signed. These included the Czechoslovak Constitution and the Helsinki Accords.
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