One the newer annual events during the commemoration of the Czech day of Democracy and Freedom on 17 November – the Memory of the Nation award ceremony – took place on Sunday. The Post Bellum historical society, which collects historical testimonies from first-hand witnesses of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, gave the award to four people this year.
Michal Bregant is the director of the National Film Archive, a state body that oversees over 150 million metres of film, tens of thousands of movie posters and other valuable materials. When we met at a lively bar near the FAMU film school, of which Bregant was dean for six years, we discussed film preservation, digitisation and the future of the NFA. But the first topic of conversation was the foundation of the Archive way back in 1943: Were the Czechoslovaks unusual in realising at that time that their movies needed to be looked after?
Today’s programme will be dedicated to the Velvet Revolution which brought down the communist regime in November 1989. The events of November and December 1989 had a very distinctive soundscape: the rattling of the keys that thousands of protesters shook above their heads as well as slogans chanted by the crowds. But the soundtrack to the Velvet Revolution is much richer. A number of songs became unofficial anthems of the political change and the heady days of late 1989 are forever connected with music.
For six years during the Second World War, Prague was the capital of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, established by the Nazis in parts of the former Czechoslovakia. A new book entitled A Guide Through Prague Under the Protectorate now offers a detailed look at the map of the capital during those dark times. If you ever wondered where the paratroopers spent their last night before they assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, where Czech resistance fighters secretly met, or where Nazi top officials lived during the war, the book has all the
Look at some of the small town exhibitions currently underway and you can’t miss the trend – they all show vintage objects very often made up of stuff people find in their attics. The “out with the old and in with the new” fervor with which people cleaned out their attics just a few decades ago is long gone and families now treasure old family coffee grinders, foreign label-covered suitcases that belonged to seasoned family travelers or wooden weaving looms used by great grandmothers.
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.