A hundred years ago, the world was about to be plunged into a conflict whose impact can still be felt today in many parts of the globe. Indeed, the creation of independent Czechoslovakia was only made possible by the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, around one million Czechs fought in World War I in Austro-Hungarian uniforms, and tens of thousands died on a broad stretch of territory from northern Italy to Ukraine and Poland. One of the country’s leading experts in this field is Radim Kapavík of Signum Belli 1914, a Brno-based military
A vast amount has been written about the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during the German occupation, but we tend to focus on the more dramatic events – the occupation itself, the assassination of the Nazi ruler Reinhard Heydrich or the destruction of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. But the American historian, Chad Bryant, has looked at the six years of occupation in an unusually nuanced way. His book Prague in Black looks at the complexities and contradictions of life at different phases of the occupation, as Czechs tried to hold their
On Tuesday, a small park in the centre of Prague hosted the ceremonial unveiling of a commemorative statue honouring the contribution of Czech pilots to World War II. Despite being the second World War II monument in this tiny park, and despite the fact that the National Heritage Institute is at odds with Prague 1 authorities over the bronze lion, a major ceremonial event marked its unveiling, attended by veterans, military members and even Winston Churchill’s grandson.
Heir to the imperial throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand is best known for his assassination in Sarajevo which set in train the events which led to the First World War. Lesser known are his special connections with Bohemia and Moravia and his plans for shaking up the whole empire which might have forestalled Czechoslovak independence.
The German embassy in Prague is marking the 25th anniversary of the East German exodus. In the summer of 1989, several thousand citizens of communist East Germany sought refuge at the West German embassy in Prague in a prelude to the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate these historic events, the embassy on Thursday opened its doors to the public.
Czech President Miloš Zeman is just one of a number of foreign leaders who have gathered in Warsaw on Wednesday to mark the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first partially free elections, a milestone on the road to democracy in the then Eastern Bloc. But what did that historic vote mean for the opposition in Czechoslovakia at the time? That’s a question I put to journalist and former dissident Jan Macháček.
The district of Prague 1 has given permission for the installation of a new memorial honouring the more than 2,500 Czechoslovak airmen who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force in WW II. Officials acted with a deadline looming: the statue, an imposing bronze winged lion, is to be unveiled in less than three weeks. The problem is that the site was not approved by the National Heritage Institute, which says the location is highly inappropriate.
Much of the border areas of the Czech Republic still bear the scars of the expulsion of some of the estimated three million ethnic Germans at the end of the Second World War. Many of the towns and villages were only partially repopulated, often with people who lacked the basic skills of the people they replaced. The result has often been the slow death or disappearance of communities altogether or their continued existence in conditions which lag behind the rest of the country. A project to try and put some of these areas on a new path has now been
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
Last week the Václav Havel Library hosted the second of a series of interviews with people who knew and worked with Havel. This month’s guest was the Canadian Paul Wilson, who has translated much of Havel’s work and lived in Prague from 1967 to 1977. He witnessed the Soviet-led invasion, and in the years that followed he became part of the Czech underground music scene, until he was ultimately expelled from the country. Few people in the English-speaking world can claim to be as steeped in the life and culture of Czechoslovakia in the last two decades