A century ago the Czech community in New York was centred around the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Indeed, an estimated 40,000 Czechs lived in the area known as Yorkville. Ed Chlanda’s family were members of that community and the 80-year-old kindly gave me a tour of the neighbourhood, taking in a former Czech bank, the street where he grew up, the Jan Hus church and the Bohemian National Hall. But we started at the New York Sokol on East 71st St., where Chlanda is an active member. Surrounded by photos, medals and other memorabilia in the Sokol
Exactly 50 years ago today, the Czechoslovak national ice hockey team beat the Soviets in the world championships for a second time, setting off a series of celebrations – which soon turned into protests, at times violent, against the ongoing Warsaw Pact occupation. Though a moral victory, in a sense it proved a Pyrrhic one.
Prague City Hall announced on Monday that its representatives had met with Zdena Mašínová and agreed to exhume the remains of her mother, who was imprisoned by both the Nazis and communists and shares the same name. The city is now preparing the necessary documentation after which the exact date of exhumation will be set.
Anyone who is interested in the history of Central and Eastern Europe has likely come across the name Marci Shore. An associate Professor at Yale University, she has published a number of books focusing on the modern history of post-communist countries. She stopped by Czech Radio, while travelling through Prague earlier this week, and I started by asking her about the impact that Nazism and Communism had on the region and the psyche of its people.
General Milan Píka, whose father also held that rank and was executed following a Communist Party-orchestrated show trial, has died at the age of 96. Himself punished on false charges, the World War II veteran nonetheless managed to rise to the top of the Czechoslovak military – and eventually clear his father’s good name.
More than eleven centuries after the fall of the Great Moravian Empire, there are still direct descendants from the Slavic noblemen living among us. A study of DNA samples, carried out recently by the Moravian Museum in Brno, found eleven men from the region of Uherské Hradiště who definitely have Great Moravian ancestors in their bloodlines.
Eighty years ago today, on March 15 1939, Hitler gave Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha a stark choice: accept becoming a protectorate or face destruction. After Hácha reluctantly agreed to give up his country’s independence the German army started moving in. It was the beginning of six long years of occupation.
Right towards the end of their dynasty, the Přemyslids established what was effectively a short-lived central European empire. Its pinnacle was reached during the reign of Wenceslas II., during the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. Apart from ruling the Bohemian realm, Wenceslas also became King of Poland and secured the Hungarian crown of St. Steven for his son. However, his weak constitution and a flash of bad luck brought the short lived empire to a sudden end.