Efforts to commemorate ethnic Germans murdered by Czechs during a wave of post-war expulsions have frequently led to heated debate in this country. One such controversy is the subject of Jan Gebert’s debut documentary Stone Games, which follows a vocal campaign by a group of locals to remove a monument to eight Sudeten Germans killed in the north Bohemian town of Nový Bor in 1945. The protesters are led by an eccentric would-be politician – and their cause attracts the attention of national figures, including now presidential candidate Miloš
While the name Auxiliary Technical Battalions sounds innocuous, in reality such battalions were a division of the Czechoslovak Army that used conscripts as virtual slave labour, and thousands of men who the Communists deemed “politically unreliable” were in effect interned in them in the 1950s. Now, those still alive look set to be placed in the same official category as former political prisoners – and to receive a little compensation.
British journalist Charles Laurence first came to Prague as a child in the 1950s. His father, a diplomat, served at the UK embassy here, and brought his family with him. In the spy-ridden communist country at the height of the Cold War, he was soon targeted by the secret police. Fifty years later, Charles Laurence revisited Prague in search of what really happened. In his book The Social Agent: A True Intrigue of Sex, Lies, and Heartbreak Behind the Iron Curtain, he exposes Czech writer, and family friend Jiří Mucha as a man who spied on his father,
Leaders of Jewish organizations, government officials and experts from a number of countries came to Prague this week to review the restitution of Jewish property taken during the Holocaust. The conference, which focused specifically on the area of immovable property, was held three years since the adoption of the Terezín Declaration, a document that sought to ease the process. The conference found that although some progress has been achieved, the declaration seems to have failed to accelerate the restitution of Holocaust-era assets.
Spotlight this week comes from Uherské Hradiště, a charming picturesque town in south-east Moravia. Like so many places in this part of the world, Uherské Hradiště has a rich and complex history. As tour guide Lenka Kornelová explains, the town was established nearly eight centuries ago in reaction to the turbulent events of that time and the city actually gets its name - meaning "Hungarian Fortress" - from this period.
Today 70 and in retirement in Prague, Mirko Dolák can claim to be one of the few Czechs to have fought for the US in the Vietnam War. Indeed, his buddies in the Marines gave him the nickname “Czech”. He later spent nearly three decades working for the Government Accountability Office, which uncovers waste and corruption in US federal agencies.
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: