It is often noted that the Czech Republic lies in the heart of Europe; what then lies at the heart of the Czech Republic? Well, there are pastures, woods and hills, a history of war and conquest, a strong musical heritage, excellent lager and a small town called Polička, where all of the above can be experienced.
A new row has blown up over the treatment of the Czechoslovak secret police files. This time a former anti-communist dissident says he will take the step of publishing what he describes as crucial computerised databases on around 100,000 people who had dealings with the secret police. He says he has taken the step because the official state guardian of the police records would not do so.
This year, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism, we are reminded how much of twentieth century history has passed through the Czech capital. The focus of much that has happened in Prague over the last hundred years has been Wenceslas Square, tree-lined and nearly a kilometre long, right at the heart of the city, and with the bronze statue of the Czech patron, Saint Wenceslas, standing guard at the top of the square. One person who has lived on Wenceslas Square nearly all her life is Věra Kölbelová. From her unique vantage point
When Ivan Klíma was a little boy, he knew he wanted to be a writer. Today, he is one of the most respected figures of Czech literature. Ivan Klíma’s life journey included years in a Nazi concentration camp, membership in the communist party, and later a life on the fringe of the society, after he was expelled from the party and joined Czechoslovakia’s opposition movement. In his latest book, My Crazy Century, Ivan Klíma explains what happened that he found himself in the ranks of the communist party, a totalitarian and criminal organization that
A small group of Czechs who have been seeking justice for almost 70 years have now been promised they will be compensated for property lost before and after WWII. The Czechs lost out when the Hungarians and then the Soviet Union took over Subcarpathian Ruthenia – formerly the most eastern tip of Czechoslovakia. After many setbacks, Czech lawmakers have now given the final go-ahead for compensation.
If you tune in to Czech Radio on New Year’s Day, at some point you will hear the stirring tones of the presidential fanfare, introducing the president’s annual address to the nation. It was Czechoslovakia’s first head of state, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who established the tradition, when he spoke to listeners on the Czechoslovakia’s tenth birthday in 1928. Here is a short extract from his address, which also happens to be one the oldest recordings in our archives:
The five-day conference on Holocaust era assets, held as the final major event of the Czech EU presidency, came to a close in Prague on Tuesday. Representatives of more than 40 countries around the world adopted the Terezín Declaration – a set of guidelines aimed at providing better care for Holocaust survivors, as well as at easing the restitution of property stolen during the Holocaust.
In June 1989, a group of people around the dissident and future president, Václav Havel, put together a petition to the communist authorities asking them to stop oppressing freedom in the country. Over five months, more than 40,000 Czechs and Slovaks signed the Několik vět petition, fuelling the demise of communism in Czechoslovakia.