Thirty years ago, on April 24th, 1978, seventeen Czechoslovak citizens got together and decided to form an organisation called VONS – the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. The organisation’s aim was to monitor and publicise cases of people unlawfully prosecuted by the Communist regime. Within a year, five VONS members – including Václav Havel, Petr Uhl and Jiří Dienstbier – had themselves been sent to prison, an act that received worldwide condemnation. On Tuesday former VONS members gathered for a seminar at the Senate to mark
For Czechs, the 20th century was a turbulent time. Independent Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918 only to later fall victim to the two great tyrannies of modern history – Nazism and communism. Many Czechs fled their country during the 20th century so that they could live as free people, and often simply to save their lives. Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Egon Hostovský, one of the most distinctive and significant modern-day Czech writers, who fled his country twice, first to escape the Nazis, and later the Communists.
Martin Palouš was one of the first signatories of the Charter 77 protest document. Since 1989 he has been a parliamentary deputy, an academic, and Czech ambassador to Washington. Now, however, Mr Palouš represents the Czech Republic at the United Nations in New York. When we spoke last week at his office on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, we began with the subject of Charter 77 and his days as a dissident.
Hundreds of cameras flashed on Thursday when seven representatives of church and state, including President Václav Klaus, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Prague Archbishop Miloslav Vlk gathered in Prague’s St Vitus cathedral to unlock the chamber in which the Czech crown jewels are stored. The chamber only opens when all seven keepers of the keys unlock seven different locks at the same time. The crown jewels were then taken to Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall, the traditional site of the coronation of kings, where they will be put on display for
It’s nearly midday and Prague’s Old Town Square is heaving with people taking photos of the astrological clock, tour groups which you can probably hear behind me, and pizzerias and Czech pubs selling lunchtime fare. But in the midst of all of this hubbub, there is one thing missing, and I’m joined here by Eva Skalická of Prague Town Council, who is here to tell me exactly what that thing is.
Hundreds of people used the opportunity on Tuesday to browse the collections of the Czech National Museum for free. The country’s biggest museum has opened its doors to the public to celebrate its 190th anniversary, which falls on the 15th of April. It’s also holding a series of other events to mark its birthday. But most of all it is getting ready for a major renovation project, that will get under way in three years’ time.
Coming up in this week’s Arts – a new opera that’s just premiered in Prague based on Communist Czechoslovakia's most notorious show trial. On June 27th, 1950 Milada Horáková - a democratic MP and campaigner for women's rights - was hanged on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage, despite appeals for clemency from world figures including Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. This is the first attempt to bring one of the darkest periods of Czechoslovakia’s past to the stage.
Czech Egyptologists have an impressive international reputation, so much so that a new exhibition opened in Cairo this week charting the work Czechs have been doing in the field over the past five decades. The opening, which has received plenty of coverage here in the Czech press, was even attended by President Václav Klaus. Away from the pyramids and back in Prague, I paid a visit to the Czech Institute of Egyptology to meet research fellow Hana Navrátilová. She told me about the history of Czech Egyptology and its main proponents:
Several years ago the Jewish Museum in Prague launched Lost Neighbours, a project aimed at piecing together the forgotten stories of Czech Jews persecuted by the Nazis in the Holocaust. But most unusually, stories are researched and recorded not by journalists or historians, but by elementary and secondary school students. The aim has been to help young people better understand the tragic events of more than 60 years ago.
Monday marks 660 years since the founding of Charles University, the oldest university in Central Europe. On this day back in 1348 Emperor Charles IV issued an edict calling for the founding of a university in Prague bearing his name. Politicians, cultural figures and academics gathered in Prague’s Carolinum, the university’s historic building, on Monday to commemorate the anniversary. Related events are scheduled to take place throughout the year. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Jan Škrha, the vice-rector of Charles University about the history and reputation