By 1944 Czechoslovakia’s liberation no longer seemed a distant prospect, as Nazi Germany’s enemies closed in from East and West. On June 6 1944 over 130,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. Later that same day, the Allied forces’ Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower, took to the airwaves:
This Wednesday marks exactly 35 years since the opening of one of the country’s most notable works of architecture, hotel Ještěd. The conical spaceship-like building with an integrated TV tower is built on top of a hill above the town of Liberec and dominates the surrounding skyline. The design of the building, which was completed in 1973, remains unique to this day.
The Czech film director Vojtěch Jasný is a fit and active 82-year-old who clearly loves to tell a story. And what stories. After his father was killed at Auschwitz, the teenage Vojtěch joined the resistance and, he says, became a British spy. As a young filmmaker he was happy to serve socialism and, despite becoming somewhat disillusioned, enjoyed good relations with Communist leaders Antonín Novotný and Alexander Dubček. Other significant acquaintances included Tito, the great German author Heinrich Boll and Miloš Forman.
Peter Sís was born in Brno in 1949 but has been living in the US for over a quarter of a century. He won a Golden Bear for best animated film at the West Berlin Film Festival in 1980, before later launching an extremely successful career as a children’s author and illustrator. Indeed, he is a seven-time winner of the New York Times Book Review award for best illustrated work of the year. His most recent book is The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. We spoke at his studio in Soho in New York.
The wartime president of occupied Bohemia and Moravia, Emil Hácha, is one of the saddest figures of Czech twentieth century history. An elderly academic, he only agreed reluctantly to become head of state after Edvard Beneš resigned over the Munich Agreement in 1938. He made the tragic mistake of remaining in office when Hitler marched into the country six months later. Hácha’s hopes of preserving at least some of his country’s independence were gradually worn down, and as his health failed, he eventually became nothing but a puppet of the
Prague has lost one of its best-known and best-loved literary figures. The writer Lenka Reinerová died on Friday at the age of 92. Her novels and stories, which drew richly from her adventurous life, were written in her native German, and she was often described as Prague’s last German writer. Lenka Reinerová was one of few surviving witnesses of the rich German speaking literary world of Prague between the wars, and she knew many of its best known figures, including Max Brod and the famous „roving reporter“, Egon Erwin Kisch. David Vaughan looks
Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the “Two-Thousand Words”, a declaration that was one of the first and most important steps of the national revival referred to as the Prague Spring. The manifesto, which appeared in several publications, posed important questions for the future of democratic reforms in communist Czechoslovakia.
The climate in Prague in the spring of 1968 was one of liberalization and reform. Laws were passed to abolish censorship and cultivate ‘democratic socialism’. As communist Czechoslovakia opened itself up to the West, the USSR looked on with increasing disapproval. On the night of August 20, Soviet-led troops invaded Prague to bring an end to the reforms. Some of the photos of the turmoil that ensued have just gone on display in Prague.
Many in the Czech Republic, which is home to the first pilsner, believe Czech beer is the best in the world. In the past, Czech brewers shared their expertise with the rest of world and breweries in countries as distant as Colombia, the United States, Turkey and Venezuela were built by Czech engineers. In this edition of Panorama, we look at the art of Czech brewing today.
The scene is Prague. It is just before midday on St Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1945. An air-raid siren begins to wail. In previous weeks, Czechs have got used to the sirens, as Allied bombers have launched raid after raid on German cities, but so far the German-occupied Czech capital has been spared. This time it is different. Not long after the sirens stop a fleet of American Flying Fortresses appears in the skies. 152 tons of bombs are dropped on the densely populated centre of the city. The result is 701 people killed and over a thousand