The death of Ctirad Mašín in the US on Saturday at the age of 81 has reignited debate in the Czech Republic over whether he and fellow anti-Communist fighters, who shot their way out of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s, were heroes or cold-blooded killers. While some see their escape as one of the most daring in Cold War history, others say they tarnished their moral integrity through their actions.
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country, and as such, life at sea is not the first thing that comes to mind. But before and during World War I, many sailors from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia served for the Austro-Hungarian Navy, the Imperial and Royal War Navy. An exhibition currently on in the Roudnice nad Labem town museum explores this relatively obscure chapter of Czech history.
“Calling all Czechs! Come quickly to our aid! Calling all Czechs!” It is May 5 1945, and with these words Prague radio appeals to Czechs to join the uprising against the German occupation. This was to be one of the last European battles of World War Two and the greatest moment in the history of Czechoslovak Radio. For some time radio staff had been working secretly with the Czech underground to prepare the ground for the uprising. Their radio appeal marked the beginning of the battle. In the confusion of the following three days with street battles
The name Jaroslav Preiss does not create many ripples when it is thrown out today. Perhaps one Czech in a hundred could identify who he was. But at the birth of Czechoslovakia and in the 1920s and 1930s, Preiss was an economic and business colossus and contributed to making the country into a major industrial player between the wars. Chris Johnstone looks at the life of the controversial figure.
By 1944 Czechoslovakia’s liberation no longer seemed a distant prospect, as Nazi Germany’s enemies closed in from East and West. On June 6 1944 over 130,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. Later that same day, the Allied forces’ Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower, took to the airwaves:
Over the last few weeks, the actress Veronika Hyks has been bringing us extracts from Jaroslava Skleničková’s memoirs, “If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…”. The book tells the moving story of how Jaroslava was sent with the other women from her home village of Lidice to the Ravensbrück concentration camp near Berlin, after the Nazis razed the entire village to the ground in June 1942. The men of the village were shot in cold blood, and nearly all the children were gassed in Poland, but throughout their stay in Ravensbrück, the women had
We have now reached the sixth part in our serialized reading of “If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…”, the memoirs of Jaroslava Skleničková. Veronika Hyks has been reading the story of Jaroslava’s childhood in Lidice, brought to a violent end in June 1942, when the Nazis decide to wipe away any trace of the village. Jaroslava – or Jaří – is the youngest of the women of Lidice to be sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, and she is there with her mother and sister, Míla. Nobody dares to think about what might have happened to the men
One of the best kept secrets among Czech castles and historic sites is the gorgeous Kozel Chateau founded in the late 18th century in western Bohemia. Founded by nobleman Jan Vojtěch Černín, a member of Emperor Joseph II’s court, the stone residence served an as exquisite hunting chateau and today is one of the best examples of Classicist architecture in Bohemia. The site is surrounded by fine lawns, a beautiful park and forests perfect for visits in the spring and summer. What’s more, Kozel is only an hour or so away from Prague and just minutes