Former communist-era prime minister Lubomír Štrougal will not face criminal proceedings over the deaths of 91 people who died on the Iron Curtain trying to escape Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. A criminal complaint against the former communist leader has been shelved on the grounds that the statute of limitations in the case has long expired.
On Monday, officials announced that Czech archaeologists had made a remarkable discovery at Abusir, near Cairo, unearthing parts of a wooden boat more than 4,000 years old. Its location near the tomb of a prominent noble is a unique find. Such vessels, used by the spirit of the deceased to navigate the underworld, were usually reserved for members of the royal family.
During WWII, the London-based Czechoslovak government in exile had only one method of communicating regularly with its people at home: over the airwaves of the BBC. To discuss the content of these programmes, ministers’ broadcasting skills, coded messages to the resistance and much more, I recently caught up with academic Erica Harrison, who has conducted ground-breaking research into the subject. My first question: How much broadcasting did the exile government actually do?
Power, sex, and film world glamour, against the backdrop of the rise and fall of the Nazi regime. The story of Czechoslovak film actress, Lída Baarová, has it all. And it’s therefore not surprising that the Czech film world has returned yet again to Baarová this month, first with a documentary film about the actress and then with a full length feature film.
Commemorative events are being held around the country to honour the memory of Jan Palach, a Charles University student who set himself ablaze on Wenceslas Square 47 years ago to protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. His act rekindled the desire for freedom in the nation and was a powerful motivating force behind the 1989 protests that toppled communism.
A Museum of the Bible will soon open its doors to the public in the town of Pelhřimov. Organized by the Biblical Theological Seminar, a non-profit organization that provides theological training in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the museum will display a large number of bibles in different languages –from rare old prints dating back to the 16th century to a Lego Bible for children. I asked one of the organizers of the project, theologian Vladimír Donát to tell me more about the museum and how the idea to establish a permanent exposition of this
Historians at the East Bohemian Museum in Pardubice have acquired what they describe as “the find of the century”. The treasure, consisting of hundreds of silver coins from the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries was discovered by chance in the autumn of last year. The coins are now the subject of detailed analysis before going on public display.
The Václav Havel Library, along with the Václav Havel Foundation and the Art for Amnesty – Amnesty International are holding a number of events throughout the year to mark what would have been the ex-president’s 80th birthday. I spoke to the head of Václav Havel Library and Havel biographer, Michael Žantovský, about the events, but I first asked him whether he thought that the presence of Václav Havel was still being missed in his homeland:
What did famous Czech actors, aristocrats, politicians and scholars write in their books? Who did they dedicate their books to and what were the fates of their libraries after their deaths? An exhibition at the Museum of Music called 'Who Could It Have Belonged to?' throws light on these questions and takes visitors to a world that is slowly disappearing. One of the organizers of the exhibition, Richard Šípek, took me around and started by explaining the idea behind the endeavor, which was preceded by four years of painstaking research.
Hana Ludikar is one of the few surviving members of the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Association, a group remembering the Czechoslovaks who fought with Britain’s RAF during WWII that was co-founded by her late husband Marcel. In this special programme, she tells us all about a life deeply impacted by the events of modern Czech history.