Tuesday marks the 38th anniversary of the self-immolation of Jan Palach, the young student whose suicide transformed him into a symbol of Czechoslovak resistance following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Jan Palach would have turned 59 this year he not taken his own life. His legacy, however, lives on.
Born in the Sudetenland, Dora Slaba spent World War II in England, returning with far better English than her Czech school teachers. She later put her language skills to use here at Radio Prague, where she worked for a decade and a half until the cataclysm that was the 1968 Soviet invasion. Dora Slaba told me all about that and more when she visited our studios.
January marks two important anniversaries. It's 30 years since the release of the Charter 77 human rights declaration, and also the 30th anniversary of the so-called "anti-Charter"- the response of the communist regime. Thousands of artists, musicians and writers signed a petition dismissing the Charter 77 signatories as "drop-outs" and "traitors". So many signed - so how do they feel thirty years on?
Thirty years ago this month a group of people decided to voice their opposition to the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia with a human rights manifesto known as Charter 77. Its signatories made the decision fully aware of the consequences. Personalities like Vaclav Havel who later became president, Petr Uhl who became human rights commissioner, and Jiri Dienstbier who served as foreign minister all served prison sentences under Communist Czechoslovakia. But the stories of the numerous women who were among this courageous group of people have yet
The Czech Republic, like most EU countries, uses Central European Time. But few people know that until 1912, the Czech capital Prague had its own time zone. The so-called "Prague time" was 2 minutes and 18 seconds behind the rest of Central Europe. The clocks were finally synchronised 95 years ago this week.
Years before becoming one of the worst mass murderers of all time, Adolf Hitler struggled to make ends meet as an artist. Paradoxically, while the exact whereabouts of the German dictator's remains are uncertain, there is a busy trade today in the paintings he made in the early 1900s, which nobody was interested in buying at the time. Recently a watercolor purported to be by Adolf Hitler went on the auction block on a Czech website.
Today the English College in Prague is one of several private secondary schools where pupils are taught in the English language. In this day and age, this is nothing unusual, but what is less well-known is that schools like the English College are building on a Prague tradition that goes way back to 1927. That was when Prague's pioneering state-run English Grammar School was set up - at the time known universally by the acronym PEGS. It was on the instigation of the Education Ministry, with the strong support of the then minister and later Prime
Many generations of Czech children have dreamt of finding this item underneath their Christmas tree. It was true for decades that when you said the word Merkur to a child in this country the first thing they thought of was not the planet Mercury, nor the Roman god, but a metal construction set, similar to the British Meccano or the American Erector Set.