A plaque commemorating Pavel Kravař, a Czech scholar and Hussite emissary from Bohemia, was recently unveiled in St Andrews in Scotland, close to the spot in Market Street where he was burned at the stake for heresy in 1433. The university master was the first of a succession of religious reformers who were martyred in the town during the Protestant Reformation. The commemoration was initiated by Paul Vyšný, a British historian of Slovak origin who worked at the University of St Andrews and who has long studied the trial of the Czech scholar. I
A nuclear scientist, František Janouch is perhaps best-known for the Charter 77 Foundation, which he set up in exile in Sweden to provide dissidents in his native Czechoslovakia with financial support and technical equipment in the latter years of the communist regime. In this the first half of a two-part interview, Mr. Janouch – who turned 85 last week – recalls the war, his years in the Communist Party, his forced emigration and the beginnings of the Charter 77 Foundation.
There are plans to build a memorial dedicated to the parents of the so-called Winton children, who escaped death in Nazi gas chambers when they were sent abroad from Czechoslovakia shortly before the outbreak of WWII. A group of surviving “Winton children” want to pay tribute to their parents, who had the courage to let them go in order to save their lives. The memorial is to be situated at Prague’s Main Railway Station, close to a statue of Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the transports of 669, mostly Jewish children.
This year’s George Theiner Prize, which honours people who have helped to promote Czech literature abroad, went to Markéta Goetz-Stankiewicz. At the University of British Columbia she has devoted decades to promoting, translating and writing about modern Czech literature. It was also thanks to Markéta that many Czech playwrights, banned back home, managed to have their work performed on stages in Canada during the 1970s and ‘80s. She has worked just as hard to promote interest in the rich legacy of German writing from what is now the Czech Republic.
A saga involving President Miloš Zeman and legendary Czech journalist Ferdinand Peroutka has taken another twist. The president’s office had faced a court order to apologise to Peroutka’s granddaughter over false accusations that he admired Hitler. However, Prague Castle has made a last-minute appeal, arguing an apology could spark a flood of lawsuits.
One of the city’s most precious book collections is to be found in the Nostitz Palace Library in Prague’s Lesser Town. The Early Baroque building, former residence of the noble family of Nostitz-Rieneck, is now home to the Czech Ministry of Culture. The precious library within, which is only open to visitors on special occasions, is administered by the National Museum. I asked Richard Šípek who administers the priceless collection of ancient books to take me through the library and show me some of its treasures.
A group of young Czechs are currently raising funding to bring now elderly Germans expelled from the Czech lands after WWII to Prague in November for events including a concert and an exhibition. Unlikely as it may sound, they also want to highlight friendships between expelled Germans and the Czechs who today live in their former homes. I discussed the project with one of its initiators, Vlaďka Vojtíšková of Smíření (Reconciliation) 2016.
The first ever Caesarean section in Europe, in which both mother and child survived, might have taken place in Prague at the court of Jan of Luxembourg already in the 14th century. Czech historians and doctors have come to the conclusion after examining various written accounts from the era. The results of their research have been published in the magazine Czech gynaecology.
The saga of the drawn-out court battle between Czech President Miloš Zeman and the granddaughter of one of the most respected Czech journalists Ferdinand Peroutka has taken a new twist. Terezie Kaslová, who claims the Czech head of state insulted her grandfather’s memory by saying he had written an article called Hitler is a Gentleman received a measure of satisfaction: she won an apology but, surprisingly failed to clear her grandfather’s name.