The corpses of some of Czechoslovakia's most celebrated war heroes may be serving as models in anatomy classes in Germany and Austria to this day. Thousands of political prisoners were murdered at the Ploetzensee detention and execution centre outside Berlin during WWII. Among them were nearly seven hundred Czech and Slovak resistance fighters, whose bodies were immediately sent on to medical universities and institutions within the Third Reich.
The sentencing to death of Czech MP Milada Horakova on trumped up charges of treason at the height of the Stalinist regime in the 1950s will always be one of the most painful and chilling moments in Czech history. A little more than 55 years ago, she faced her show trial with calm and defiance, refusing to be broken. Audio recordings - intended to be used by the Communists for propaganda purposes - were mostly never aired, for the large part because for the Party's purposes, they were unusable. After Milada Horakova's trial and execution, much of
Czechs and Slovaks marked the 16th anniversary of the start of the 1989 Velvet Revolution on Thursday, a time when people remember the overthrow of Communist rule and reflect on the changes that have swept society since then. But discontent is growing with the current political situation, and that discontent was reflected in the mood on the streets of Prague. Radio Prague's Rob Cameron has this report.
On the 28th of October, 1939, Czechoslovak Independence day, Czech students took to the streets to demonstrate against the Nazi occupation. The protest was brutally suppressed - with shots fired at random into the crowd. One student leader, Jan Opletal, was seriously wounded, and later succumbed to his injuries. Thousands turned out for his funeral procession, and protests again turned violent. Hitler ordered a swift and brutal clampdown. On the 17th of November, nine students, seen as the ringleaders, were executed and over a thousand were sent
Robert J.W. Evans, a professor of history at Oxford, is one of the world's leading authorities on the historical development of Central Europe. Among other things, he has written an award-winning history of the Habsburg Empire, which is considered required reading for anyone interested in the evolution and legacy of the Habsburg monarchs who dominated this part of the world for six centuries up to the end of the First World War. Having started his academic career as a linguist, Professor Evans is also well known for his analysis of the role language
"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.