We start this series with one of the great European democrats of the 20th century, Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Born in 1850, he was already in his late sixties when he became president in November 1918. He took inspiration from the western democracies, in particular the United States and Britain, having spent time in both countries during his First World War exile. But he was also a passionate European.
Pavel Mikeš, the Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia, studied African History and Linguistics at Charles University in the 1980s. Despite not being allowed to travel to the continent under communism, he managed to learn fluent Swahili and Amharic, the dominant Ethiopian language, along with English and French. After a long career in academia, he joined the Czech Foreign Ministry in 1999, and has since served as head of mission or ambassador in several other African countries. Along the way, he has written books on the history and geography of Ethiopia,
T.G. Masaryk’s daughter Alice was imprisoned in 1915 for treason, a charge that carried the death penalty. Her time in a grim jail in Vienna is the focus of Charlotte and Alice, a freshly published and highly illuminating collection of over 200 letters between her and her US-born mother, Charlotte Masaryk. The book is the work of Anne Johnson, an American editor and translator who lives in Brno. She explained its genesis when we spoke recently in the city.
The Czech National Bank re-issued 30,000 sets of six 20-crown coins on
Wednesday to mark the centenary of monetary separation from the former
The six coins featuring famous First Republic politicians such as Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš, as well as the first central bank governors, were first issued in 2018.
At that time, collectors could exchange them for coins of the same value. Now the cost for six coins has been set at CZK 590. Another 20,000 sets of the coins are due to go on sale this autumn.
Countless statues of Tomáš Garrique Masaryk, the founding father of Czechoslovakia and the country’s first president, were erected in town squares in the first two decades of the new democracy. Scores were torn down under the German occupation, melted down in Third Reich forges to make bullets and artillery shells. But the fate of a handful of others remains a mystery.
Zuzana Čaputová, who is to be sworn in as Slovak president on Saturday,
will pay her first official visit to the Czech Republic on Thursday.
The new Slovak head of state will be received with honours at Prague Castle by President Miloš Zeman, meet with the speakers of both houses of Parliament and attend a concert given in her honour on Prague’s Kampa Island.
She will also lay flowers at the grave of the late president Vaclav Havel and lay a wreath at the statue of Slovak politician Rastislav Štefánik, one of the co-founders of Czechoslovakia.
No meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been scheduled, since he will be attending a meeting of the European Council at the time, according to the Office of the Government.
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.
Personal items belonging to the second Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš and his wife Hana, including the late president’s shaving kit and walking stick, have become part of the collection of the Czech National Museum in Prague. The items were donated to the museum by Hana Benešová’s relatives, who live in the United States.
100 years ago the Czechoslovak Assembly decided on the name of the new republic’s currency - the koruna. Despite a variety of original proposals, the delegates ended up being rather conservative in their choice, voting for a name that had also been used for the currency of Austria-Hungary. To commemorate the date, the Czech National Bank has issued a rare collection of gold-silver coins.
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Wide range of events in store for Czechs this weekend as 30-year anniversary of Velvet Revolution reaches climax
Study: Airbnb to push Prague citizens out of wider city centre
Shabby pub profits from nostalgia
Hundreds of thousands again gather in Prague to voice their opposition to prime minister