East Tilbury on the Thames estuary in Essex is a piece of the old Czechoslovakia planted in England. It was here in 1933 that the Zlín-based shoe empire Bata opened its first English plant. As well as the factory, the company also constructed its own small town for workers following the Czechoslovak model. The plant lasted until 2006, but in many respects it is still carries on. The Bata estate and factory have been designated a conservation area. A reminiscence and resource centre was opened in 2002 to serve as a sort of museum and focal point
Prague has a new top class attraction. Well, it’s not actually new new, but it is a mere two months since the Vítkov National Memorial was opened to the public for the first time after a major renovation job. High above the city on the hill between the districts of Žižkov and Karlín, the imposing functionalist structure was completed in 1932. Its main purpose was to honour the memory of the Legions whose bravery in World War I had helped win support for the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia.
Lucie Seifertová is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known children’s book authors and illustrators, whose work has been translated into numerous languages including English, Russian, German and Japanese. Now her award-winning History of the Brave Czech Nation - voted Children’s Book of the Year in 2003 - is being made into a 100-part animated series. Produced by Czech TV, the series, like the book, covers broad stretches of Czech history using humour and adventurous characters and if the premiere last Saturday is any indication, is likely to be
Today in Mailbox we quote from your e-mails answering December’s quiz question and announce a new mystery person contest for January. Listeners quoted: Hans Verner Lollike, S. J. Agboola, Ian Morisson, Sergei, Gordon Martindale, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Charles Konecny, Charlie Cockey, Henrik Klemetz, Colin Law, Keith A. Simmonds.
In a memorable moment of history, dissent and playwright Václav Havel was elected the first post-communist president of Czechoslovakia 20 years ago. His inauguration put the final seal on the country’s road to democracy. Two decades later, most Czechs believe Mr Havel’s role in the process was crucial.
Exactly 20 years ago, Czechs and Slovaks were celebrating their first Christmas for four decades without a hint of official disapproval. While the communists tolerated the trappings of Christmas – with Christmas trees and traditional Czech Christmas carp in abundance – their tolerance of Christian traditions was never more than skin deep. In the 1950s, priests and members of religious orders were often locked up for their beliefs, and the brief reforms of the 1960s were followed by another wave of persecution, following the Soviet-led invasion
Archbishop, later Cardinal, Josef Beran, become a symbol of opposition to totalitarian regimes. He was dubbed the archbishop who refused to be silenced. The punishment for speaking out was imprisonment first under the Nazi occupation and then the Communists. In this week’s Czechs in History we look at Josef Beran’s exemplary life on the 40th anniversary of his death in exile.