David Mrazek, is an award winning American writer and film producer. David, whose grandfather was a Czech American émigré, made an award winning documentary film in 1990 called ‘My Prague Spring’, which documented the lives of some of his Czech relatives in the heady months after the Velvet Revolution. In an interview for Radio Prague he talked about how the documentary was made and what inspired him to document this heady period of Czech modern history.
Welcome to our special extended programme marking the October 28th national holiday in the Czech Republic. Ninety-five years ago today, Czechoslovakia declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, becoming an independent state. The so-called First Republic thus came into being, at first under much celebrated president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and subsequently Edvard Beneš, who would witness the country’s dismemberment in 1938 under the Munich Agreement. Although Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia
When Czechoslovakia’s President-in-exile Edvard Beneš spoke in the English industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent on 6 September 1942, it was a turning point in the propaganda war with Germany. This was three months after the Nazis had destroyed the village of Lidice near Prague; many of the men who were murdered were miners or steel workers and in Britain the massacre led to a wave of solidarity with the victims, most markedly among miners. The “Lidice Shall Live” movement that was born in Stoke-on-Trent became the focus of this solidarity, initiated
The recent presentation of a US award for opponents of Communism to Václav Klaus has sparked a war of words in the Czech Republic. Some believe the former prime minister and president did nothing whatever to fight totalitarianism – and should be stripped of the prize. Now Mr. Klaus has responded with a detailed defence.
One of the curious things about Central Europe is how little people from the various countries of the region know about each other. A recent sociological study suggested that Czechs and Poles have very similar views of the world and similar sets of values. They share a border five hundred miles long, speak languages that are close enough for them to be able to understand each other without too much difficulty, and yet the two nations have a habit of acting as if the other didn’t exist. Even in these days of open borders, assumptions and prejudices
Until the advent of the First World War, intellectuals and artists sitting in Prague’s smoky coffee houses would have talked in ‘isms’: modernism, cubism, futurism, and realism- just as did they in Paris, Vienna and other cultural hubs around Europe. These artistic movements of the early Twentieth Century celebrated the wonder of contemporary progress, the speed of its technological advance and the power of the machine.
Monday marks the 75th anniversary of the Munich Agreement which granted Nazi Germany large parts of Czechoslovakia, inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans. A prelude to the Second World War, the deal forged by Germany, Italy, France and the UK dealt a final blow to pre-war Czechoslovakia whose decision to accept the agreement rather than defend the country’s integrity against Nazi expansion deeply demoralized the society. Does the Munich trauma still affect Czechs today? And what lessons can be drawn from what happened in Munich 75 years ago? In this
Jostled between nation states and ideologies for the best part of two centuries, traces of an ever changing Czech identity crisis sit subtly in the foreground of the Prague we know today. Whatever rule Bohemia or Czechoslovakia was under - whether it be the Hapsburg Monarchy in the eighteenth century, National Socialism in the 1940s or Communism until 1989; the bridges over the Vltava have seen and lived through it all. A closer look at two of Pragues busiest bridges unveils a history not so distant in Prague’s past.
Josef Svoboda is a professor, Arctic ecologist and author. Born in 1929 in Prague, Mr. Svoboda studied science and philosophy at Masaryk and Charles universities. He was imprisoned for nine years by the communist regime in 1949 for alleged treason and espionage and then emigrated to Canada in 1968, where he has lived ever since. I began by asking Svoboda about his earliest memories of growing up in pre-war Czechoslovakia.