"The greatest story of the Cold War" - that's how the story of the Masin brothers who shot their way out of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s is often described. The sons of a Czech WWII hero decided to fight the Communists the way their father fought the Nazis, and in 1953 they escaped from Czechoslovakia to West Berlin. Two of their friends did not make it and the group shot six people during and before their escape. More than fifty years on, the story still provokes controversy in the Czech Republic. The debate is no doubt going to be rekindled by
The final days of World War II remain among the bloodiest that Czechs can remember - with countless atrocities against civilians committed by the Nazis even as the Czechs rose up against them. In the Pelhrimov region, just days before the end of the war, German forces swept into the village of Leskovice, killing twenty-five people, and razing the village to the ground. No one was ever punished for the atrocity. What's more, research by a Czech investigative reporter has reportedly shown that the man responsible for ordering the massacre - former
It's just over two weeks until the 16th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution that brought down Communism in Czechoslovakia. But how much do the nation's schoolchildren know about what happened here between 1948 and 1989? Not much, says the leading human rights group People in Need. Throughout November they're visiting schools with documentary films detailing the excesses and cruelties of Communism. They're also bringing with them victims of the regime to share their experiences with pupils. One of them was Jan Wiener, now 85, who escaped
Over the last 50 years Czech-born US scholar and genealogist Miloslav Rechcigl has researched Czech and Slovak cultural heritage in America, mapping the arrival of Czechs and Slovaks in America from the time of the first settlers to today. In this Czechs in History we meet with Dr Rechcigl to discuss some famous Czechs in the New World, including the first Czech to set foot in the American colonies and the first to stay. Miloslav Rechcigl: Czechs in History... in America.
This week Czech Books comes from the Irish capital, Dublin. We talk to Dr Stefan Auer, a lecturer in European politics and society at the Dublin European Institute at University College. Stefan is originally from Slovakia, and he has taken a great interest in "liberal nationalism" in Central Europe. He wrote a book which has as its basic hypothesis the idea that nationalism, despite its very negative connotations for many in Central Europe, can also be a force towards greater democracy.
Czechoslovakia was one of the few states in Europe between the wars with a genuine parliamentary democracy. The First Republic, as it became known, was a multiethnic one: apart from Czechs and Slovaks, nearly a quarter of its people were ethnic Germans; the Tesin region in the north had a large Polish minority, while South Slovakia and Ruthenia were home to some three-quarters of a million Hungarians. Up until the Munich Pact of 1938 and subsequent Nazi occupation, Czechoslovakia was a magnet for refugees from Hitler's Germany, communist Russia,
It would be hard to find a person who is not familiar with at least one tragic story of the Nazi concentration camps. This tragic episode in history has been a source of inspiration for numerous writers and film directors, museums have put up many exhibitions, Holocaust anniversaries are marked worldwide, and television stations often repeat documentaries about the better known camps and their survivors. But while the names of the larger camps - like Auschwitz or Belsen - are etched into our memories, the smaller camps in the Nazi occupied Baltic
Founded nearly twenty years ago in a Sokol community hall in America's heartland, the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International now boasts close to four thousand members, from all fifty states in the Union and around the globe. For the first time in its history, this society of amateur and professional genealogists held its biannual congress in "the homeland."
In today's One on One I speak to Nandanie and Asoke Weerasinghe. Both are successful professionals in Alberta, Canada, thanks to their determination and a good education which started with a scholarship to study in Prague. Nandanie studied medicine at Charles University and Asoke engineering at Prague's Technical University. Prague is where they met; they eventually went on to complete their studies in Western Europe, emigrated to Canada and finally got married in their home country of Sri Lanka. They came to Czechoslovakia during the big changes
The Melantrich building on Prague's Wenceslas Square will forever be associated with one of the most significant periods in Czech history. Leading figures in the Velvet Revolution, such as Vaclav Havel and Alexander Dubcek, addressed delirious crowds from one of its balconies in November 1989 on a day that will be remembered by Czechs for generations to come.