March 7th marked a very important day in Czech history as it was the 154th anniversary of the birth of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founder and first president of an independent Czechoslovakia following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. To commemorate the occasion the current Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla paid a visit to his grave. Both consider his legacy to be the most significant in recent Czech history.
During the past few years, the two words "Benes decrees" have been ubiquitous in the Czech media. Most recently the term has been used in connection with the case of Franz Ulrich Kinsky, a member of an aristocratic family with long roots in Bohemia, who has filed a total of 157 lawsuits asking the Czech courts to confirm that he is the rightful owner of large amounts of property which were confiscated from him as a child after the war. The so-called "Benes decrees" that politicians, journalists, lawyers and property claimants frequently refer to,
It is the year 1923. The fifth year of the existence of the young Czechoslovak Republic, a year in which regular radio broadcasts started in Czechoslovakia and the first passenger planes began flying between Prague and Bratislava on a regular basis. In the previous autumn, Alois Rasin had become Czechoslovak Minister of Finance for the second time since the founding of the state in 1918.
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Alois Rasin, a key figure in the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and also the country's first finance minister. He died three weeks after being shot by a young assassin in the centre of Prague - the first political assassination in the fledgling Czechoslovak state. Rob Cameron looks back at the life and premature death of Alois Rasin.
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