A Czech Radio reporter and colleague from the Los Angeles Times in a joint interview have helped uncover evidence which could prove crucial in the current trial of John Demjanjuk, a man accused of involvement in Nazi death camp crimes. The evidence – the testimony of a witness – could help pin Demjanjuk down as a guard who participated in the murder of thousands of Jews at an infamous Polish camp.
The village of Husinec, in south Bohemia, wants to open a new centre commemorating its most famous son, the 15th century religious reformer Jan Hus. While the municipality hopes the new visitor and research centre will open in time for the 600th anniversary of his death in five years’ time, critics say the project is over the top.
Since the fall of communism, Petr Pithart has been a central Czech political figure. As one of the first people to sign the human rights manifesto, Charter 77, he spent the last years of the communist regime as a political dissident. But as the regime collapsed in November 1989, he shot to prominence – firstly in Civic Forum, which brought together those fighting for an end to one-party rule, and then as the first post-communist prime minister of the Czech part of the Czechoslovak federation. Later he went on to be chairman of the Czech Senate and
Later this year, ABL FM services, a company in charge of a number of Prague’s historic sites, will re-open the bell tower on St Nicholas’ Church, where 20 years ago the Communist-era secret police, the StB, kept a hidden lookout. The cubby-hole with views of Prague’s Malá strana district was used to above all monitor activities outside nearby embassies, especially that of the US.
The assassination in May 1942 of the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, was one of the most dramatic events of World War II. The Czechoslovak resistance fighters parachuted into Prague to carry out the attack later met their own deaths in a church in the city, after being surrounded by Nazi troops. Their brave actions are the focus of an exhibition in the church’s crypt which has now been given a major facelift.
To his many Nobel Prize-winning colleagues, Georg Placzek was a physicist of boundless importance. It was not because of a breakthrough discovery on his part, or because he published widely, but because he tended to be the man with the right wits at the right time. At Los Alamos, New Mexico, on July 16th, 1945, he was the only Czech present for the detonation of the first nuclear explosion – an event he had helped to create.
The city of Brno has made up its mind on a contentious issue: the hammer and sickle on a public monument to fallen Red Army soldiers from the Second World War is coming down. In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the city council decided to end two years of protests and vandalism by removing the still-controversial symbol for good.
The novel “Peníze od Hitlera” (Money from Hitler), is one of the best Czech books I’ve read for a long time, and luckily for English-speaking readers, it has just been published in an excellent English translation by Women’s Press in Toronto. When it first appeared in Czech over three years ago, Money from Hitler caused quite a stir; it won the prestigious Magnesia Litera award, but Czech critics remained divided. Perhaps this is no surprise. The author, 41-year-old Radka Denemarková, chose one of the most sensitive and painful episodes of modern