One of the steps taken by the Czech Republic to come to terms with its communist past were so-called 'lustrace', or screening laws. They were meant to prevent former communist secret agents and other people associated with the former regime from taking government and senior civil service posts. But it appears that some former secret police, or StB, agents have managed to slip through the net. It has just emerged there are far more former agents in the police than previously believed - 800 rather than a few dozen. Dita Asiedu reports:
Some years ago, Madeleleine Albright, the Czech-born American Secretary of State, learned that although she had been raised Catholic, all four of her grandparents were Jewish. Not every Czech family tree contains such a big surprise, of course, but almost any Czech who digs into their family history will learn things they did not know or expect. To help them, the Czech Genealogy and Heraldry Society in Prague has just launched a new course.
Public broadcaster Czech Radio and a number of professional institutions like the Jewish Museum in Prague and Prague's Institute of Contemporary History recently signed a new agreement to cooperate on mapping and preserving important stories and oral histories from 20th century Czechoslovakia. Reporters Mikulas Kroupa and Adam Drda initiated the project, explaining to journalists that the main aim was to record lasting and complete testimonies by witnesses who survived some of history's most difficult periods: the Second World War, the Holocaust,
From September 12-15, 2006 the Austrian capital of Vienna played host to the first-ever international conference devoted exclusively to the phenomenon of central European samizdat and tamizdat networks. Hosted by the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences, in cooperation with German, American and Hungarian-based scholarly institutions, the meeting brought together a group including members of the former democratic opposition in communist Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Russia, as well as scholars and journalists who write about this
On Wednesday the government backed a plan long prepared by the ruling Civic Democrats to found a new Institute for National Memory - covering the legacy of Communism in Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989. It is not the first time the creation of such an institute has been discussed, but not all are in favour. As the Czech Republic already has an Office for the Investigation of Crimes under Communism, some have questioned whether an additional institute would be needed at all.
Though I would say I am reasonably familiar with Czech culture and history, I must admit that I often have to scratch my head a bit - and consult the internet - whenever we feature a new question in our Radio Prague monthly quiz. The subject of the most recent competition - the remarkable prize-winning tennis, ice hockey and football player Karel Kozeluh - was certainly somebody I should have been familiar with, and I learned about his amazing career with fascination.
In this week's edition of Spotlight, join Dita Asiedu as she is given a tour of the Mendel Museum in the Moravian capital of Brno. The Museum is located in the Augustinian Monastery, where Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) conducted his famous inheritance experiments thanks to which he is now known as the Father of Genetics.
A new internet "game" called Total Burn-out of Lidice has been making a lot of headlines in recent days. The title refers to the 1942 razing of the Czech village of Lidice and the massacre of its inhabitants, one of the worst single atrocities of World War II. Visitors to the site are given the mission of burning the village down, with 10 points for killing a Czech, or 50 if they are trying to escape. It seems to be in shocking bad taste, but it actually has a serious purpose - attempt to start and you are asked "What are you playing at?! This
The exhibition "Charles IV, Emperor by the Grace of God" held at Prague Castle earlier in the year has been described as one of the most important cultural events of the decade. The most valuable art works of Czech origin scattered among collectors in Europe and the United States were successfully assembled for a reconstruction of life under the Luxembourgs. The exhibition has had numerous accompanying events; one of the most interesting is the creation of a perfect replica of a medieval crane which now stands in the Castle's north courtyard. The
If we delve into the Czech Radio archives, we find recordings in English going right back to Radio Prague's beginnings 70 years ago. Some of the extracts we are going to feature in this programme have not been aired for well over half a century. They capture some of the most interesting and dramatic moments in our history.