When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union, it heralded a revolution in Soviet-American relations. At a series of high-profile summits, beginning in Geneva in 1985, a growing personal trust developed between the Soviet and American leaders. Here is President Reagan – from the Czech Radio archives - in Moscow on June 1 1988:
The year is 1984, and Ivan Lendl plays the winning point against John McEnroe in the final of the French Open in Paris, one of eight Grand Slam singles titles in his career. The 1970s and 80s were period of huge tennis success in Czechoslovakia, and the country put considerable resources into the sport. Unlike most of their compatriots, the country’s top tennis players were able to travel round the world, and when Czechoslovak Radio caught up with the 19-year-old Lendl just before Christmas 1979, it was during one of his rare trips back home:
The previous episode of Czech Life featured the first part of Lillian Schořová’s life story. The 92-year-old Englishwoman is one of the hundreds of English war brides who went home with their Czechoslovak husbands after the war. Lillian came to Czechoslovakia with Josef, a tankist from the armored brigade who was stationed in the United Kingdom, in 1945. In this episode, she talks about her life after the war, her difficulties learning Czech, her unusual career and how she feels today, looking back on all the ups and downs of her adventurous
The Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II left a deep mark in Czech history. Various legends and myths surround the 16th century ruler who made Prague his imperial seat and whose diverse interests made the city a centre of Renaissance arts and sciences. One monument from his time is hidden beneath the surface of the earth – a water tunnel carved deep into the rock of one of Prague’s hills.
Last year in this programme I played some archive recordings from the pre-war gatherings of the “Sokol” movement, which brought together tens of thousands of people in displays of mass gymnastics, all in an atmosphere of great patriotic fervour. After the war, the communists suppressed the Sokol movement as part of the old political order, instead staging their own spectacular calisthenics displays in honour of the Communist Party.
In the heart of Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood is Rixdorf, an area that is also known as the Bohemian Village. The settlement originated in the first half of the 18th century, under the auspices of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I., who welcomed Bohemian Protestant refugees into his empire. In the Habsburg Empire, they had been banned from exercising their faith. We recently visited this fascinating area of Berlin and talked to Cordelia Pollina, the director of the Bohemian Museum, which is devoted to the history of this neighborhood.
The Habsburg imperial family ruled the Czech lands for nearly four centuries but few of the emperors and empresses found favour with their Czech subjects. One of the exceptions whom Czechs took to their hearts was Ferdinand V the Benign who spent nearly three decades living at Prague Castle as its last imperial inhabitant. A new exhibition which recently opened at Prague Castle looks at the life and times of the last crowned king of Bohemia.
Only a handful of the hundreds of British women who moved to this part of the world with their Czechoslovak husbands after World War II remain in the Czech Republic. Many have died, while some returned home to the U.K. decades ago. One of the few British war brides still living here is Lillian Schořová, whose home is in North Bohemia. Radio Prague’s Sarah Borufka visited her there for this episode of Czech Life.