The Czech Radio building in Prague saw the most intense violence during the Soviet-led invasion of August 21, 1968 and, as every year, hundreds of people marked the anniversary at the station on Thursday. Among them were leading politicians – and one old lady who broadcast news of the occupation to the outside world.
Paris, Lviv and Prague, over a thousand miles apart yet connected by the fact that they all initiated successful uprisings against their German occupiers during World War II. The Czech capital was the last of the three to do so, but the action arguably preserved the city’s beauty and led to a battle the Czech nation, previously starved of an opportunity to fight, needed. On the date famously named by Winston Churchill as Victory in Europe day, we take the opportunity to explore the story behind the Prague Uprising.
Eighty years ago today, on March 15 1939, Hitler gave Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha a stark choice: accept becoming a protectorate or face destruction. After Hácha reluctantly agreed to give up his country’s independence the German army started moving in. It was the beginning of six long years of occupation.
Karel Lánský, who kept independent Czechoslovak Radio on the airwaves for
eight dramatic days after the Soviet led-invasion of Czechoslovakia in
August 1968, has died at the age of 94.
He had ensured broadcasting from secret locations in Prague and ran the operation directly from his flat. He later signed Charter 77 and after 1989, returned to lead the international service of Czechoslovak Radio (Radio Prague).
For his bravery, Mr Lánský was awarded the country’s highest state distinction, the Order of the White Lion, last year, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
Among the recipients of the state awards handed out by President Miloš Zeman on October 28, was Karel Lánský – a legend of Czech Radio broadcasting. For eight dramatic days after the Soviet led-invasion of Czechoslovakia Lánský and his team kept independent Czechoslovak Radio on the airwaves, broadcasting from secret locations in Prague and running the operation from his flat close to the radio’s Vinohrady headquarters.
Oldřich Číp, a world renowned expert on short-wave radio has died at the age of 87. He was associated with radio since childhood - first as an amateur radio hobbyist and later as a staff member of Czechoslovak and Czech Radio in the departments of international broadcasting. He cooperated closely with Radio Prague for many years, presenting a popular show for DXers.
In the early years of Radio Free Europe, the U.S. station – although initially founded and largely secretly funded by the CIA – played a critical role in providing balanced, objective news to listeners in the Eastern Bloc, especially during turbulent periods of history. Having failed to live up its own standards when covering the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, RFE took a radically different approach to its coverage of the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, says former RFE director A. Ross Johnson.
Czech Radio is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year. The Czech national radio broadcaster has come a long way since its pioneering days. Today it is the biggest radio broadcaster in the country with 9 channels, manned not only by its Prague staff but 14 regional branches providing news and reports from around the country. The station’s buildings are also an important part of its history. On the occasion of Czech Radio’s 95th anniversary we have prepared a photo gallery of its buildings, some of them valuable architectural landmarks.
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