Even after the death of Stalin in the Soviet Union and Klement Gottwald in Czechoslovakia the 1950s remained a period of high political tension between East and West. The Cold War was at its height; with it came the arms race and the space race. Here is Czechoslovakia’s president Antonín Novotný, in a New Year radio address on January 1 1958:
When Joseph Stalin died on March 5 1953, it sent shockwaves round the world. In Czechoslovakia his personality cult had been almost as overwhelming as in the Soviet Union itself. At the time of his death, work was already well under way to build the biggest statue of the Soviet dictator in the world – unveiled two years later in Letná Park. Stalin had a close ally and kindred spirit in the Czechoslovak President, Klement Gottwald, and Gottwald ignored warnings from his doctors in order to attend his friend and protector’s funeral. Before leading
Ema Destinnová - or Emmy Destinn, as she became known abroad - was one of the greatest dramatic sopranos of the twentieth century and one of the most sought-after singers before WWI, thanks to her voice of exceptional richness, power, and control. She sang with the legendary Enrico Caruso and many other stars in the most prestigious opera houses in Europe and the United States, such as Bayreuth, Berlin's Hofoper, London's Covent Garden and New York's Metropolitan.
The early 1950s in Czechoslovakia was a bleak period in the country’s history, but there was also some escape from politics. In 1952 the Summer Olympics were held in the Finnish capital Helsinki and the undisputed hero of the games was the greatest Czech runner of all time, Emil Zátopek. Despite his extraordinary style, with his face contorted, his head and torso swinging, and emitting sounds that earned him the nickname of “the Czech locomotive”, he went to Helsinki having already twice broken the world record over 20 kilometres. His dream at
It's exactly seventy years since the first transport of Czechoslovak Jews left Prague, bound for the garrison town of Terezín, transformed by the Nazis into a ghetto and concentration camp. Some 140,000 Jewish men, women and children were sent to Terezín, known as Theresienstadt in German; most of them were later killed at Auschwitz. A number of events were held this week bringing together Terezín survivors, one of them on Thursday evening at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
Filmy patří lidu (Films Belong to the People) is the title of a series of Socialist Realist pictures that have been released on DVD in the Czech Republic in recent months. These propaganda-filled films are from the 1950s, the harshest decade of the communist era, notorious for its brutal repression, show trials and forced labour camps.
Welcome to Wilsonstadt, an independent Central European city of 400,000 Germans and Hungarians, and a few Slovaks thrown in for good measure. Named after US President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, after successfully avoiding annexation by Czechoslovakia - and an impossible number of other would-be conquests - it's a prosperous, provincial town on the Danube, though plagued by poor relations with its neighbors.
The house of the Rožmberks was once one of Bohemia’s richest and mightiest noble families which at times even challenged the power of the king. The family controlled a large estate in southern Bohemia, its seat being Český Krumlov castle. The last member of the family died 400 years ago and was buried in a local monastery. But the location of the legendary Rožmberk family tomb remained a mystery for centuries – until new research into the monastery tomb produced surprising results.
Last month we heard the sad news of the death of Ewald Osers at his home in England at the age of 94. Born in Prague at a time when it was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Osers was an outstanding linguist and a brilliant translator. Over the decades he translated dozens of Czech writers and poets into English, and was equally well known for his translations from German. David Vaughan looks back at a fascinating life.
On Thursday, November 17th, the Czech Republic marked 22 years since the start of the Velvet Revolution as well as the 72nd anniversary of the events of November 1939 which resulted in the closure of all Czech universities by the Nazis and reprisals against students and intellectuals. But many Czechs used the holiday to voice their discontent with the current government policies.