After the communist coup, Czechoslovak Radio was at the political vanguard and transformed into a tool of propaganda. One of the first big changes at Radio Prague was that our familiar call signal from Dvořák’s New World Symphony was replaced by a stirring socialist anthem – “Ku předu levá”. The words are simple: “Left foot forwards, left foot forwards, and never a backwards step.” All broadcasts acquired a political hue. Here, for example, is a factory worker, talking about his first love:
South Moravia is well-known for its wine, which has been produced there at least since thirsty Roman soldiers far from home began doing so in the 2nd century. Move forward a thousand years or so, to the 13th century, and wine trading had become one of the most profitable businesses in the region. Those are the days that our destination for today stretches back to.
2011 marks one hundred years since Jan Kašpar, a Czech aviation pioneer, made the first long-distance flight from a town in East Bohemia, to the famous Chuchle racetrack near Prague. Kašpar covered the 120 kilometres in a retrofitted single-engine monoplane, bought from Louis Bleriot after the Frenchman’s successful flight over the English Channel. Kašpar’s own journey from Pardubice to Chuchle was itself ambitious and when he arrived he was given a heroes’ welcome. This week, in honour of the original deed, the feat was repeated by another Czech
This Saturday a special mass will be celebrated in honour of Saint Agnes of Bohemia, on the 22nd anniversary of her canonization by the Roman Catholic Church in 1989. In a couple of weeks’ time a large exhibition will open in the convent of St Agnes in Prague founded by Agnes herself. Those are just two events in a long series to mark the 800tha birth anniversary of one of the country’s most revered patron saints. In today’s Czech History we look at the life and legacy of this extraordinary noblewoman.
Many people in Czechoslovakia greeted the communist coup of February 1948 with enthusiasm, in the belief that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to happen again. But following the model of Stalin’s Soviet Union, it was not long before a period of political terror began, with thousands of arrests and then a series of political show trials. The most horrific symbol of the period was the trial and execution of Milada Horáková. She had been one of the most enlightened politicians of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic, a champion of democracy
The 2006 film “Swingtime” inspired by a communist-era secret police operation as well as four documentaries will be screened in November at primary and secondary schools around the country as part of a month-long project called Stories of Injustice. Now in its seventh year the project organized by the NGO People in Need covers a period often neglected in the curriculum. Through film and subsequent discussions with survivors, witnesses and victims of communist injustice, students are learning about post-war Czechoslovak history – this year with a
As one art critic once said, the paintings of Josef Lada accompany Czechs from cradle to grave. He is as well known for his illustrations of fairy tales and children’s readers as he is for his landscapes, which each Christmas are printed thousands of times over on the front of the nation’s Christmas cards. Lada was also the artist who gave the grinning, rotund Good Soldier Švejk his form.
“We are a small country with a great tradition of freedom. We shall not give it up.” These are the words of Jan Masaryk, the son of Czechoslovakia’s first President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, addressing American servicemen in Plzeň in a tone of great optimism in November 1945. During the wartime occupation Masaryk had served as Czechoslovak foreign minister in exile in London, and he remained in the post after his return home, deciding to stay on even after the communist coup of February 1948. His immense popularity meant that the communists put up
The independence of Czechoslovakia, which we celebrate each October 28, was the result of a movement of many decades, and when at least it came, in 1918, after four hard years of war, the joy must have been very palpable. There are so few alive today who can remember that period, but it is certainly not lost to us, and one of the ways we can relive it is through the music of the day.
Cemeteries across the country will soon fill with flowers and burning candles when on All Saints Day people visit the graves of their loved ones. But in Prague, there is one burial ground where few visitors are expected. The Malá Strana cemetery was only in use for about a century, and it now stands out as a unique monument in the middle of the dynamically developing district of Smíchov. A group of local enthusiasts have now got together to save this unique part of the city’s heritage.