Over the last two years we have listened to sounds from the Czech Radio archives going back over eighty years. In this, the last of the series, we look at two of the big events of the last decade - the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO and then, five years later, to the European Union. We start with NATO, which the Czech Republic joined in March 1999 along with Hungary and Poland. In 2002 Prague hosted a major NATO summit, at which seven further Eastern and Central European countries were invited to join. At the summit, President Václav Havel gave
In our age of celebrity chefs and cookbooks for all skill levels and wallet sizes, we may sometimes forget that food was an important element of life surrounded by special rituals, beliefs and values for many a decade. In this edition of Czech Life I decided to find out what importance food had a hundred or so years ago in this region. In order to do that, I headed to the ethnographic department of the Czech National Museum, where the exhibit Krmě - jídlo – žrádlo, or Dish-Meal-Grub is currently on display.
While the split of Czechoslovakia happened quietly and almost unnoticed, the situation in Yugoslavia could hardly have been more different. There had always been close links between the two countries, and Czechs and Slovaks were deeply shocked as Yugoslavia sank into civil war. In an interview for Radio Prague in 1993, the head of the Euro-Atlantic Section of the Czech Foreign Ministry, Ivan Bušniak, pointed to some of the two countries’ historical bonds:
Olga Hrubá is today a feisty woman of 85. Way back at the turn of the 1950s she campaigned, from exile in the US, to save the life of her friend Miladá Horáková, a Czechoslovak politician executed by the Communists after a show trial. For the following four decades Olga Hrubá, along with her pastor husband, worked – with some success – to protect the rights of religious believers in Communist states.
At the turn of the 20th century, Lázně Kyselka, just outside Karlovy Vary in western Bohemia, was a fashionable spa resort. Today, it is a ruin on the verge of total collapse. Kyselka suffered decades of neglect followed by a chaotic privatisation of the 1990s that only brought more disregard for its historic value. But recently, at long last, new hope appeared for the derelict 19th century spa complex, after a deal was reached between the various owners of the premises to try and save it.
I had never really been inside or had a proper look around, but I was sure the small church of St Martin in the Wall would have an interesting story, if for no other reason than its ancient appearance and peculiar name. Just off the central Národní třída is a classic Prague alleyway that’s tucked away from the shopping boulevard, neatly dividing the centuries from one another, and there you’ll find it. One of the oldest churches in the city, St Martin in the Wall is one of those relatively few landmarks whose story can transport you all the way
After the split of Czechoslovakia at the beginning of 1993, Radio Prague devoted several programmes to the impact of the new border on ordinary people’s lives. For most, life stayed much the same, but the split did have a very real impact on people living close to the border, and on Czechs living in Slovakia or vice versa. Here is one Slovak student, settled in the Czech Republic, talking to Radio Prague a few months after the split:
Late last month the Czech literary world finally paid its due to Natalia Gorbanevskaya a Russian poet, translator and civil rights activist who in 1968 risked her life to voice her opposition to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. More than 40 years after her brave deed her book Red Square at Noon reflecting the events was finally published in Czech.
One of the more curious aspects of Radio Prague in the early 1990s was that the station’s name kept changing. In 1991, for no particular reason, we stopped calling ourselves Radio Prague and became Radio Prague International. Then, at the beginning of 1992, in order to seem less Prague and Czech centred, we became Radio Czechoslovakia. The change was largely cosmetic, because the great majority of programmes, with the exception of a daily commentary sent from Bratislava, continued to come from the Czech part of the federation.