In the world of advanced information technology there are still remnants of an era when all human knowledge was painstakingly collected in libraries that reflected the social status of their owners. Deep in the bowels of Kinski Palace, on Prague’s Old Town Square, the Kinski family library is preserved as it served the family for generations. Its administrator for the National Museum Richard Sipek took me around one of the two remaining palace libraries in the city.
For years now, the Czech Army has been selling off, or in some cases donating, concrete military bunkers built in the 1930s. Originally, they were to have served as key fortifications against Nazi Germany but were never put to use. There are some 5,000 such pillboxes in the Czech Republic, one-fifth of which are now in private hands. More than 360 bunkers were sold in the last year-and-a-half alone.
Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman has indicated significant progress made in negotiations aimed at removing a pig farm from the site of a former Romany concentration camp. The presence of the farm at Lety, south Bohemia, has plagued several administrations and elicited sharp criticism from the European Commission.
Moscow has accused the West of waging a propaganda war against Russia and is considering setting up a centre where historians who would compile a “correct” interpretation of history as seen by the Kremlin. One of the milestone events which have reportedly been “misinterpreted” is the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia has had its fair number of top spies before the Second World War, during the conflict as well as in the post war and Cold War era. There is František Moravec, who created one of the most successful espionage networks for Czechoslovakia during the inter-war years and later took his skills into exile in Britain.
Every October 28th, marking the founding of the former Czechoslovakia, the president presents state honours to chosen recipients which recognise their life’s work, sacrifice and outstanding contribution. Awards range from the country’s highest honours – the Order of the White Lion or the Order of T.G. Masaryk – to Medals of Merit.
George Brady, who is 88, currently finds himself at the centre of one of the most divisive political affairs seen in the Czech Republic in some time. Amid the hullabaloo, it might be easy to overlook the remarkable life story of the 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, whose family’s fate featured in the book Hana’s Suitcase. Ian Willoughby has more.
You may well have heard of the English princess who became Queen of Bohemia for just one winter, but did you know that it was a Bohemian queen who persuaded Richard II not to burn down London in a fit of rage? Or at least, so the story goes. The historical links between Bohemia and Britain go back a very long way, and have become something of an obsession for the Czech novelist Hana Whitton. She talks about her writing with David Vaughan.
The late Czech president, Václav Havel, who died five years ago, would have turned 80 on Wednesday, October 5. Celebrations of his life and legacy are taking place at home and abroad. In this special program on Radio Prague we recall the heady days of the Velvet Revolution that swept the dissident playwright from jail to Prague Castle.