The Czech writer Milan Kundera is regarded as something of a modern-day national treasure – despite the fact that he has lived outside of the Czech Republic for decades. But the author of such books as The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Joke has now been accused of reporting a young soldier to the communist authorities – something that led the man involved to be imprisoned.
“I’m now going to write down some of the things which have happened over the last few days. I’ve got such a short memory, I’m afraid, and this is a way of making sure that I don’t forget.” These are the opening lines of a diary that was written in 1945 by a young woman as she gradually emerged from the hell of the concentration camps, hoping, against the odds, to see her husband again. The woman’s name was Hana Pravda, and she died in London on May 22 this year at the age of 92. Hana spent much of the second half of her life in Britain, where she
Many people in Czechoslovakia greeted the communist coup of February 1948 with enthusiasm, in the belief that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to happen again. But following the model of Stalin’s Soviet Union, it was not long before a period of political terror began, with thousands of arrests and then a series of political show trials. The most horrific symbol of the period was the trial and execution of Milada Horáková. She had been one of the most enlightened politicians of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic, a champion of democracy
A number of hugely important historical moments have been remembered in the Czech Republic this year: the communist takeover of 1948, the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, and the signing of the Munich agreement in 1938. But there is also one anniversary that Czechs can mark with pleasure – the foundation of Czechoslovakia 90 years ago, on October 28th 1918. Among the institutions marking that day is Prague Castle, which has organised several events.
The oldest Czech record label Supraphon has a new owner. The music publishing company, part of the Bonton entertainment group, was sold last week to Czech industry tycoon Miloš Petana. The new owner also acquired the publisher’s extensive archives containing more than 100,000 recordings made throughout the 20th century.
The Czech national airline ČSA is celebrating its 85th birthday this Monday. Today, the carrier flies to destinations spanning from Athens to Zagreb, and ranks amongst the Czech state’s most valuable assets, but what about back when it first began? Company spokesperson Daniela Hupáková describes the airline’s humble beginnings:
Today we reveal the name of our September mystery person and announce the four winners who will receive small gifts for their correct answers. We quote from entries by: Robin Wisdom, Helmut Matt, Javed Iqbal, C. O. Agboola, Jayanta Chakrabarty, David Hewitt, David Griffiths, Jana Vaculik, Constantin Liviu Viorel, Paul R Peacock, David Eldridge, Colin Law, Charles Konecny, Barbara Ziemba, and Roger Christie.
“We are a small country with a great tradition of freedom. We shall not give it up.” These are the words of Jan Masaryk, the son of Czechoslovakia’s first President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, addressing American servicemen in Plzeň in a tone of great optimism in November 1945. During the wartime occupation Masaryk had served as Czechoslovak foreign minister in exile in London, and he remained in the post after his return home, deciding to stay on even after the communist coup of February 1948. His immense popularity meant that the communists put up
If you stumble across a little brass plaque on a walk in Prague’s Old Town next week, then the chances are it is going to be a ‘kámen zmizelého’ (‘stone of the vanished’). The project, organized by the Czech Union of Jewish Students, will eventually see stones commemorating victims of the Holocaust embedded in pavements all over the capital. The idea comes from Germany, as does the man making the memorials, Gunter Demnig. But the project coordinator at the Czech end is Petr Mandl. I met him on Wednesday morning to ask first about the name of the
In less than one month, the Czech Republic will mark an historic anniversary: 90 years since the founding of Czechoslovakia. To commemorate this day, the Czech Senate has put the original of the Pittsburgh Agreement, a document that created the basis for the new state, on display. On Monday, the US ambassadors to the Czech Republic and Slovakia presented the document to the head of the Czech Senate, Přemysl Sobotka. Ruth Fraňková has the details.