Historians at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes have announced they recently uncovered previously unknown video footage in the archives on the events of 1989. Footage shot – and heavily manipulated - by the former regime’s secret police, the StB. Carefully presented images and a propagandistic voice-over in the “documentary” were meant to give a diametrically different picture of public demonstrations which shook the country 21 years ago, suggesting they were a provocation and a sham. Swiftly overcome by events, though, the Communists
No visitor to Prague can fail to admire the beautiful National Museum, the dominant feature atop the long boulevard of Wenceslas Square. It is home to millions of items of natural and social history. However, today’s edition of Spotlight focuses not on the exhibitions inside, but on the building of the National Museum itself, one of the instantly recognisable landmarks of the Czech Republic.
Today in Mailbox we reveal the identity of August’s mystery Czechs – yes, there are two of them – and announce the names of the winners (again two this time). Listeners quoted: Salahuddin Bhuiya, Ian Morrison, Don Schumann, Sandeep Jawale, David Eldridge, Chun-Quan Meng, Xiu-Ping Qian, Hans Verner Lollike, Colin Law, Charles Konecny.
August 18 marked the 130th anniversary of birth of one of the most distinct figures of the old Austrian empire, Emperor Franz Joseph I. He ruled his peoples for nearly seven decades, and although Czechs today don’t seem to identify with this particular period in their history, the legacy of the ‘aged monarch’, as he was semi-officially referred to towards the end of his life, is still apparent in most of his former empire today.
Café society was a reality in Prague and many other Czech towns and cities during a golden era before the First World War and between the wars. There were hundreds of such cafés with the latest addition often trying to outdo its predecessors in luxury and splendour. This edition of Prague Spotlight centres on one of the most famous of these cafés, the Café Louvre. It is one of the few great cafés which have survived the ravages of time and has been restored to some of its original grandeur.
Not many of the thousands of passengers arriving every day at London’s busy St Pancras Station are aware that they are passing just a few dozen metres away from one of the largest and most diverse collections of Czech books outside the Czech Republic. Tucked in beside the station is the huge, but surprisingly inconspicuous complex of the British Library. In this week’s Czech Books, David Vaughan shows us some of the highlights of the library’s rich Czech collection.
August 21 marks the anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and other communist countries. The occupation crushed an attempt to reform the communist regime, and drove the country into two decades of hard-line rule. What that all meant to the people of Czechoslovakia has been looked at many times. In our special programme today, we look at August 1968 from another perspective: that of the occupiers.
A monument was unveiled in Prague on Friday morning to Ryszard Siwiec, the Polish man who set himself alight in September 1968 in protest at his country’s participation in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Siwiec committed suicide in Warsaw just weeks after the invasion and six months before the Czech student Jan Palach made his own terrible sacrifice in Prague. The monument was unveiled on the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the invasion.