Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka has invited Pope Francis to visit the Czech Republic. The invitation was made during an audience with the pope as EU leaders gathered in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the founding treaty of what was to become the European Community. The papal visit could take place in June when the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice by the Nazis will be marked. An earlier invitation had already been made by Czech head of state Miloš Zeman.
Czech scouts have begun mapping the fates of scouts who died during World War II in battle, in concentration camps or in prisons, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. Within the project War Heroes they are attempting to trace their fallen predecessors’ life stories in a bid to preserve them for future generations of Czech scouts. The Nazis banned the scouts in 1940 and many of its members joined the resistance. Around 700 died in the course of the war.
Prior to being dropped in Nazi-controlled Bohemia to carry out the assassination of German governor Reinhard Heydrich, the Czechoslovak parachutists Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš were based in the English village of Ightfield, where they befriended the local Ellison family. Now – 75 years after their daring mission – the pair are set to get a monument there. The man behind the campaign to honour them in this way is Englishman John Martin, the author of a book on Operation Anthropoid.
A series of eight programmes on public broadcaster Czech Television called Modrá Krev or Blue Blood is already around half way through. The series looks at the modern Czech aristocracy, in many cases families which have returned from exile during the Communist era, with each episode focusing on one particular noble family.
A new Czech documentary film pays tribute to one of the country’s last remaining war heroes, Czechoslovak RAF veteran General Emil Boček. The 94-year old war pilot made headlines last year when he got his wish to fly a Spitfire once again, more than seven decades after his last flight in the iconic plane. Documentary film maker Daniel Hnát was in London for the memorable occasion and the result is a half-hour documentary called “Twenty minutes over London”.
The head of the ultra-right party Adama Bartoš has been charged with Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred, Czech Radio reported on Friday. According to the police, Bartoš intentionally incited hatred of Jews as well as immigrants in his speeches and published texts. The case will be heard by a Prague district court. If found guilty, Bartoš would face up to three years in prison.
On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Czechs are marking the memory of Antonín Kalina, a Czechoslovak Communist who risked his own life to save at least 900, mostly Jewish children from the Holocaust. A documentary about the unsung hero of the Holocaust was premiered on Czech Television this week while his hometown of Třebíč announced plans to open a memorial hall dedicated to their famous son.
The Holocaust is a drastic example of where intolerance can lead if left unchecked, Senate chairman Milan Stěch said at an event marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in the upper chamber of Parliament on Friday. He said European culture is one of tolerance, but it must never tolerate those who incite religious and racial hatred. The gathering was attended by Holocaust survivors, war veterans and representatives of the Czech political and cultural scene. One of the speakers at the event was Romany singer Radek Banga who recently openly protested against the fact that one of the music awards at the Slavík Awards ceremony went to a singer whose band is notorious for its racist lyrics.
President Miloš Zeman has invited Pope Francis to visit the Czech Republic in June this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Lidíce massacres. Around 20 Czechs from the village north of Prague were executed in a reprisal for the assassination of the Nazi acting governor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, in 1942 by Czechoslovak parachutists from Britain. The village was razed to the ground and children and mothers sent to concentration camps. Altogether 340 people from Lidíce perished by the end of the war. Zeman explained in a letter to the pope that the event was highly symbolic for the Czech Republic.
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