Thomas M. Messer was born in Bratislava in 1919 but moved to Prague at the age of four, when his father got a job teaching German Studies at Charles University. After moving to the US at the start of World War II, he went on to work at a number of art institutions, including New York’s Guggenheim Museum, where he was director for 27 years. Mr Messer, today an urbane gentleman of 88, grew up in Czechoslovakia’s inter-war period First Republic, regarded by many as the country’s golden era. Would he share that view?
In today’s Special, we look at Military Prague: a few of the key moments in the city’s history, from the first Slavonic settlements, to the founding of Prague Castle and achievements later in the 20th century. Like any major city, Prague’s military history is impossible to separate from other historical developments: technological, economic, and cultural. As a site in the Czech lands it is of course difficult to overstate its importance.
This year, Český Rozhlas or Czech Radio is celebrating its 85th anniversary. A number of special commemorative events and broadcasts are being planned for the coming months. As an institution, Czech Radio has played its part in, and survived, two revolutions, as many major uprisings, and a world war. But could one of its biggest tests be, quite simply, a change in times and consumers’ tastes? As we are bombarded with information from an ever increasing number of sources, is there still a place for good old radio in the modern world?
In today’s Mailbox, you will find out who the mystery lady from our April competition was. We will also announce the names of four of Radio Prague’s listeners who were drawn out of the hat and will receive small prizes from us for their correct answers. And of course, there is a brand new quiz question for you. Listeners quoted: Prasanta Kumar Padmapati, Christine Takaguchi-Coates, Jana Vaculik, Ian Morrison, Mark Guy, Panha Pen, Deepa Chakraborty, Colin Law, Partha Sarathi Goswami, Henrik Klemetz, David Eldridge, Christopher Roberts, Charles
The Colorado potato beetle is a pernicious and resilient crop pest. Also known by the colourful name of ten-striped spearman, it has an interesting history in this part of the world. In fact, the beetle was one of the most visible elements of communist propaganda in Czechoslovakia in the dark days of the 1950s.
Olga Fikotová won gold in the discus at the Olympic Games in 1956, less than two years after taking up the discipline. At the Olympics she met and fell in love with an American athlete, Harold Connolly. Back home in Czechoslovakia, their romance overshadowed her stunning success, with Olga accused of being a traitor by the communist authorities. Marriage to Harold spelled the end of her career as a Czechoslovak athlete, though she went on to represent the US at four Olympic Games. Olga Fikotová-Connolly is our guest in this special programme.
Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day victims - a day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished during the Second World War - was marked in many parts of the Czech Republic - in synagogues, at public gatherings and in private, by families whose lives were directly affected by the Holocaust. Anyone passing through Prague’s Náměstí Míru on Wednesday could stop to take part in a public reading of the names of Holocaust victims. The event was organised by the Terezín Initiative Institute, the Czech Union of Jewish Youth
Institutionalized care for disabled people in the Czech lands goes back almost a century to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ninety-five years ago in April of 1913 a prominent surgeon by the name of Rudolf Jedlička established a medical-and-educational facility which aimed to give disabled children and adults a chance to live a more dignified, active life.