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,
Last week Prague hosted an international conference that looked at the role played during World War Two by the London-based governments in exile of occupied countries. These included not just Czechoslovakia, but also many other European countries, including the Netherlands, Poland, Yugoslavia and France. These exile politicians played a complex, sometimes tortuous role in shaping not just the course of the war, but also the political order that followed. David Vaughan reports.
Few if any Westerners have been living in this part of the world for as long as Don Sparling. Indeed, the Canadian-born academic came to Czechoslovakia in March 1969, just seven months after the Soviet invasion that crushed the Prague Spring movement. He has been here ever since, for the most part living in Brno, where he eventually became head of the English Department at Masaryk University.
Like many child survivors of the Holocaust Vera Egermayer, started a new life in a new environment soon after the war. Her family moved to New Zealand when she was just eight and the country became her second homeland. A few years after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia she returned to her birthplace as New Zealand’s honorary consul and faced the ghosts of the past, the murder of family members and her own internment at Terezin.
The City of Prague Gallery was given custodianship of the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace in Prague’s Old Town a few years ago. The gallery is finally ready to open the building to the public, and possibly make it one of its main exhibition and educational sites. Radio Prague headed over to the palace to speak with the team that is working on its new appearance.
Gisela Cheffer was born Gisela Duschinský in Brno in 1932. Her Viennese father was Jewish, which made her a target for the Nazis, and her baptism as a Roman Catholic very likely saved her life. She later came close to being forced to leave during the mass expulsion of Czechoslovakia’s German population after the war. But she stayed – until, that is, a meeting with a Finn led to a life abroad.
It is exactly 90 years since the very first regular radio broadcasts in Czechoslovakia began on 18 May 1923. These were humble beginnings, starting in a borrowed scouts’ tent on the edge of Prague. But within just a few years, radio became central to the lives of millions of Czechoslovaks and over the decades the archives here in the Czech Radio headquarters have become an Aladdin’s Cave of sound, a living audio source for anyone wanting to research into twentieth century Czechoslovak history. For our 90th birthday, we joined forces with a group
This weekend we’ll be celebrating 90 years since the first regular radio broadcasts in Czechoslovakia, and we’ll be bringing you a special programme. David Vaughan has been working with a group of Prague journalism students, to discover some of the forgotten gems hidden in the radio archive. He tells us more about Saturday’s special programme.