Thousands of people on Saturday took the opportunity to inspect the historic premises of Prague Castle which are usually off-limits to the public. Thousands queued up since the early morning hours to see the castle’s interior, including the Spanish Hall, the Throne Room and the Mirror Hall. Visitors can see where the presidential elections take place, which rooms former presidents favoured and the dining room used to host banquets for visiting royals and heads of state. The Office of the President opens these premises to the public only on special occasions. The next opportunity to view them will be on October 28, a public holiday marking the birth of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.
In sombre tones the second Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš announced his resignation on Czechoslovak Radio on October 5 1938. Since becoming president in 1935, he had been haunted by the spectre of Nazi Germany, as Hitler had fuelled separatist sentiment among the country’s 3.5 million German speakers. Here is an extract from one of President Beneš’ vain appeals for reconciliation, in April 1938.
At the beginning of this series we heard the voice of the first Czechoslovak President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The Masaryk family included several remarkable women, who were also to play their part in 20th century Czech history. Tomáš’s wife Charlotte was American, born in New York in 1850. When the couple married in Brooklyn in 1878, he took on her surname Garrigue as part of his own name, as a gesture of respect. Charlotte went on to devote her life to all things Czech, and she was every bit as energetic in her defence of women’s rights, winning
Earlier this week we remembered the 72nd anniversary of the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15 1939. Much has been written about the years that led up to the occupation: the growing tensions with Czechoslovakia’s German speaking minority, Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and then the Munich Agreement of September 1938 that ceded a quarter of Czechoslovakia’s territory to the German Reich. There is a sense of inevitability about the events, but could things have been different and could Czechoslovakia’s President Edvard Beneš have
The first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk is remembered as the founding father of the country. It was he who from his exile in Britain and then America in the First World War negotiated the terms for an independent Czechoslovakia. When he died on 14th September 1937 at the grand old age of 87, the whole nation went into mourning. In sombre tones, Czechoslovak Radio broadcast the entire funeral. The five-hour event was the radio's first major outside broadcast, using a whole team of the star presenters of the time.
Over the next six months we'll be looking at some of the most fascinating recordings to be found down in the Czech Radio basement. Czech - and previously Czechoslovak - Radio has been archiving its material since way back in the 1920s, and has built up one of the richest radio archives in the world, surviving war, invasion and even a German aerial torpedo in May 1945. We start the series with our very earliest recording, the first Czechoslovak President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, talking 79 years ago, on 28th October 1928. President Masaryk was born
The town of Vysoké nad Jizerou this week marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of notable Czech politician Karel Kramář. As an MP within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kramář fought for Czech national interests, leading to his arrest for treason by the Austrian authorities during World War I. He was tried and sentenced to death, galvanising Czech public opinion, and although the sentence was reduced to imprisonment, Kramář became a national hero. Eventually he was released as part of a general political amnesty in 1917. The flood of support pushed
Czechoslovakia was one of the first victims of the Nazis, with the march into the Sudetenland in I938 followed by the occupation of the rest of the country in March 1939 and an increasingly oppressive regime for most of the population. The backlash at the end of WWII was harsh and violent. And that backlash against the Nazi occupiers, Sudeten Germans and Czechs believed to have collaborated in some way is the subject of US historian Benjamin Frommer’s book “National Cleansing: Retribution against Nazi Collaborators in Postwar Czechoslovakia.”
The Czechoslovak legions occupy an almost legendary place in Czech history. They comprise the armed forces that fought during and after World War I on the allied side in pursuit of an independent Czechoslovakia. The biggest force, and most potent myths, centre on the Russian force, which became embroiled in the civil war, spending three years and travelling thousands of miles before returning home. We look at the myths and facts about their exploits.
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