This weekend’s centenary celebrations in the Czech Republic will have particular resonance for Charlotta Kotik, given that her great-grandfather Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk founded Czechoslovakia and served for almost two decades as the country’s first president. I spoke to her at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, where she is a special guest.
Celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918 are taking place not only in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but also among Czech and Slovak communities the world over. From London to Chicago, Czechs and Slovaks are highlighting an event in their common history that put them on the road to independence.
Little over a week before the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia, a freshly released film brings the state’s founder to the big screen. Talks with T.G. Masaryk reconstructs a single conversation between the “father of the nation” and writer Karel Čapek, another symbol of the First Republic era.
In his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly,
acting Czech foreign minister, Jan Hamáček, spoke about the need for
greater international cooperation in defending the universal ideals and
values the UN was founded on.
History teaches us that respect for human rights is the best remedy for conflict and violence, Hamáček said,adding that the historical experience of his own country provided many examples of this.
Hamáček mentioned the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia saying the lessons of the past are still relevant today since clearly not all countries, including those situated in Eastern Europe, have the right to choose their foreign policy orientation without a threat to their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The acting Czech foreign minister pointed to the annexation of Crimea which he said represented a blatant violation of international law.
The founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, once said that states are sustained only by those ideals from which they were born. The same must be true about the United Nations.
The UN was founded for the protection of peace, human rights, justice and social progress and all member states should embrace those ideals, Hamáček concluded.
With the 80th anniversary of the Munich agreement coming soon, Tom McEnchroe focused on the Czech side of Munich. Talking to the deputy director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Ondřej Matějka, about what it was like to live in the region that lay at the heart of the conflict, as well as how Munich is remembered in the Czech Republic today.
This Sunday will mark the 80th anniversary of the infamous Munich agreement - the deal between Hitler, Mussolini and the two western European powers, which cut off the German speaking borderlands from Czechoslovakia, including a significant part of its industry and protective ring of forts, thus rendering the young republic defenceless to any future German invasion. Munich is often seen as a betrayal of the Czechoslovak state by western powers and the French were famously ashamed for breaking their alliance. But why did the Great powers act as they
Bořek Lizec, Consul General of the Czech Republic in Chicago, has unearthed and preserved remarkable stories of Czech-American friendships and come to believe that, quite possibly, Czechoslovakia would not have gained its independence had it not been for efforts of the people of Chicago and the Midwest. To honour their individual and collective contributions and legacies, he is helping put together centenary celebrations in “the windy city” this autumn requiring two weekends to pack it all in.
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