The last years of the Brezhnev era were a period of deep mistrust between the Soviet Union and the United States. As disarmament talks stumbled and both countries expanded their nuclear arsenals, the popularity of the peace movement in the West grew. The governments of communist countries saw this as an opportunity to try to influence Western public opinion and Radio Prague’s English-language broadcasts were part of this process.
A conference and an exhibition this week commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Professor Gordon Skilling, a leading scholar on modern Czech and Slovak history. Gordon Skilling’s life-long interest in Central Europe began before WWII when he came to Prague to do research for his dissertation, a time he also briefly worked for Radio Prague. We spoke to Gordon Skilling’s son David who is in Prague for the events, and asked him what it was like to be growing up surrounded by all things Czech.
On occasion of the 70-year-anniversary of the Heydrich assassination, an exhibition on the subject has opened in Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset. While the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is one of the most significant events in modern Czech history, the story of how the governor of the occupied Czech lands was killed is relatively unknown in Israel – despite the fact that Heydrich was one of the main architects behind the Final Solution.
A series of events held in Prague and elsewhere over the weekend marked the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a top ranking Nazi official and the ruler of the occupied Czech lands. While dozens of people came to see a reconstruction of the assassination, a mock concentration camp was erected in central Prague in the memory of the victims of Nazi retaliation.
Prague and Lima have been marking the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations this week through a number of events, including a ceremony in Lima preceding the return of an historic Czechoslovak-built tank to the Czech Republic. The LTP 38, as it is known, was built for Peru in the 1930s, designed specifically for high terrain. Originally, there were 24 of the armoured fighting vehicles.
Czechs and Slovaks spent most of the 20th century in one country, Czechoslovakia. Ever since its foundation, however, each nation had a different idea of how the country should work, and what their role in it should be. In his new book entitled Czechs and Slovaks in the 20th Century: Cooperation and Conflicts, historian Jan Rychlík argues that Czechoslovakia was in fact bound to fail as a state, and that communism only postponed its inevitable end.
On March 2 1978 - for the first time - a person was launched into space who was neither a Soviet nor an American citizen. His name was Vladimír Remek, and he came from Czechoslovakia. Millions of Czechs and Slovaks had the chance to follow the event live both on radio and television, and it was even celebrated in song: