Among many who have come to the Czech Republic to mark this Saturday’s 75th anniversary of the Nazis’ annihilation of Lidice is Alan Gerrard of the group Lidice Lives, which is based in the UK city of Stoke-on-Trent. It is a kind of social media-based successor to Lidice Shall Live, a major initiative to rebuild the Czech village launched in Stoke in September 1942 by the politician Sir Barnett Stross. When we spoke, I asked Gerrard whether he had been inspired by Stross’s work.
Spartakiads, or Spartakiady, mass gymnastic exercises, were a unique event of their kind in Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime. Historian Petr Roubal has put the phenomenon under the spotlight and the result is an award winning book looking at the various events and how they evolved over time. I asked him how much did the first Spartakiad in 1955 differ the similar mass events or Slets, organised previously by the Czech Sokol movement.
Seventy-five years ago, on May 27, 1942, Czechoslovak parachutists dropped into Bohemia carried out one of the most daring actions of World War II, the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The heroes of Operation Anthropoid later hid in the Church of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in central Prague, where they met their deaths following a massive SS siege on June 18. Join us on a visit to that church.
War veterans, diplomats and members of the public gathered in the French port of Dunkerque and the Belgian town of De Panne over the weekend to pay homage to the soldiers who lost their lives in the heroic siege of Dunkerque and the liberation of the French-Belgian border areas. Among the heroes of Dunkerque are members of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade which, although heavily outnumbered, fought to contain German units within the fortress up until their surrender in May, 1945.
It is arguably the most frequently photographed sight in the Czech capital: Prague Castle overlooking the city complete with St. Vitus’ Cathedral. In the mid-18 century, the castle complex had a markedly different look. Its present-day appearance is based on designs by the Viennese court architect Nicolo Pacassi. He was commissioned by Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa after parts of the castle were heavily damaged.
Czech Post on Wednesday unveiled a new souvenir sheet containing a 46 crown stamp marking the 75th anniversary of Operation Anthropoid. In the mission, Czechoslovak parachutists were dropped into occupied territory to assassinate Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The souvenir sheet, about the size of a postcard, gave the artist greater room to pay homage to those who gave their lives in the operation or were murdered in reprisal by the Nazis.
The restoration of Kuks, one of the most beautiful baroque complexes in the Czech Republic, has won the European Grand Prix for heritage conservation. The prestigious award was presented by the Europa Nostra association in Finland’s Turku on Monday. The jury praised the interdisciplinary approach of the restoration work, saying it should serve as a strong example for conservation projects across Europe.
In today’s edition of our miniseries, marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Empress Maria Theresa, we look at one of the many novelties she introduced during her reign - the reform of health care. The empress herself initiated some significant changes in the health sector, including obstetrics.