Few people were as close to Václav Havel as his secretary of 14 years, Vladimír Hanzel. Originally a music critic and computer programmer, Hanzel was by Havel’s side in his dissident days before serving under him at Prague Castle during four terms as president. He was also the first person in December 2011 to make public the news of the death of the man who led Czechoslovakia to democracy. When we spoke, I began by asking Vladimír Hanzel about his fateful first encounter with Václav Havel.
A few years ago several boxes of wartime radio recordings from London were found lying forgotten in an attic at the Czech Foreign ministry. Some are in English and some in Czech, many of them are broadcasts produced by the BBC, others by the Czechoslovak government in exile as part of the fight against Nazi Germany on the airwaves. Radio archivists are gradually working through the material and already some fascinating recordings have turned up. They include a completely forgotten radio play by František Langer who was one of the best known playwrights
Hello and welcome to a special programme marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Joining me in the studio today is noted historian and author Professor Jan Rychlík. Rather than simply do the obvious and discuss the end of World War II, I thought it might be interesting to focus on the efforts of the Czech resistance throughout the duration of the war.
A memorial ceremony was held in front of Czech Radio on Tuesday marking the 70th anniversary of the start of the Prague Uprising. There was a fierce battle for control of the station during the insurgence, which saw thousands of Czechs take up arms against the Nazi occupiers in the dying days of the war.
Events marking the end of WW II are taking place around the country. Czech Radio, located in Prague’s Vinohrady district, played an important role in the Prague Uprising and a raging battle took place outside the radio building as citizens responded to a desperate radio appeal for them to help defend the station. On the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Czech Radio the country’s public broadcaster has organized a series of events for the public. Czech Radio’s spokesman Jiri Hošna explains what will be taking place.
When many of his friends were starting university, Pavel Vošický was getting a different sort of education, hearing the stories of political prisoners of various stripes in some of the most notorious jails in communist Czechoslovakia. Barely out of his teens, Vošický had been found guilty of sedition while on military service.
The pilots of two Gripen fighter jets on Monday conducted the first flyover above Prague Castle in more than a quarter century, launching, together with a military honour guard on the ground, a slew of commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. And, on Monday, Prague Castle opened a new unique exhibition of never-before-seen photographs of Czechoslovak serviceman during the war.
In this week’s edition of Czech History we look at the situation in Bohemia and Moravia in late April and early May 1945 in the run up to commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. We draw on the recollections of US soldiers Czech resistance fighters, and forced labour and concentration camp workers seeking to return home as the hostilities ended.
Forty years ago this week, on 8 April 1975, Václav Havel sent an open letter to Czechoslovakia’s President Gustav Husák. The letter was to become one of the key documents of dissent during the period of “normalization”. It outlined the creeping fear, apathy and humiliation faced by Czechs and Slovaks amid the cultural stagnation in the first years after the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. Today times are very different, but the warnings in the letter remain as relevant as ever. Azadeh Mohammadi is a Prague-based student from Iran, who came across the