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, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, talking 79 years ago, on 28th October 1928. President Masaryk was born
A large black 12-cylinder Tatra T 80 from early 1930s that was once the personal car of first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk was hidden under a pile of tyres during the Second World War. It was later featured in the collections of the National Technical Museum in Prague, and has just gone on display at the Chrome Jewels exhibition in Vienna.
Surrounded by railway sidings and industrial estates, it's easy to get the impression that Kolin is simply a town travellers pass through on the way from the Czech capital to the nearby tourist-friendly Kutna Hora. Nevertheless, anyone who gets off the train in Kolin and takes the trouble to walk the short distance past the factories and business parks to the city centre will find that it is a place worth visiting.
During the enforced nationalisation of the hard-line 1950s, one class who came in for particular persecution were the 'kulaks' or wealthier, propertied farmers. As part of their efforts to destroy them, the Communists are believed to have displaced over 4,000 such farming families. Now - a full 50 or more years later - there are moves to bring to justice some of those responsible for what has even been described as genocide.
Starting next Thursday, our colleague David Vaughan will be introducing new series entitled From the Archives. As the name suggest he'll be dusting off some of the many unique recordings to be found in the archives of the Czech Radio. I asked David what drew him to explore the archives in the first place.
Karel Kryl, singer, songwriter and poet, was the most prominent Czech folk musician of the last fifty years. His well-known songs are to this day sung in pubs and around campfires, even by those of the younger generation of Czechs who grew up after his death. Born in Kromeriz in 1944, he began writing and performing after graduating from secondary school, and was later expelled from army service for performing songs deemed to be anti-socialist. He was exiled from Czechoslovakia in 1970, but continued to write, produce and perform until his return
The find of the century is what Czech archaeologists are calling the discovery of a 7000 year-old statue in Masovice, a village just west of Znojmo, South Moravia. Although only the lower parts of the sculpture have been found, experts say that Hedvika, as the statue has been named by those who discovered it, is a unique find in a European context.
Although the Czech Republic is better known in sporting circles for its ice hockey and football prowess, it also has a surprisingly strong horse-racing tradition, which dates back to the days of the Habsburg Empire. For well over a century, the highlight of the racing season in this country has been the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, which is sometimes known as the "Czech Grand National".
On Tuesday a court in Prague began hearing the case against Ludmila Brozova-Polednova, the last living participant in one of the most notorious show trials of communist-era Czechoslovakia. In 1950, Mrs Brozova-Polednova was a 29-year-old prosecutor who helped condemn the democratic politician Milada Horakova to death. Now 86, she is being tried as an accomplice to murder.
This month the Canadian Ambassador to Prague Michael Calcott hosted a panel discussion at the Canadian residence recalling cooperation between Czech dissidents and Canadian officials in the years leading up to the fall of communism. During the mid-1980s, the end of the period known as the Normalisation, key officials at the embassy went out on a limb, risking careers to help dissidents and their cause, even going so far as to smuggle dissident writing, even going so far as to smuggle dissident writing (Samizdat) out of the country. Documents included