Prague City Hall held a special ceremony on Thursday honouring Czechs forced in the Stalinist 1950s to serve in army units that were in reality nothing more than labour camps. An estimated 40 to 60 thousand men, singled out as enemies of the regime, served in such units between the years 1950 and 1954, after which they were officially disbanded. But even 60 years later the scars remain.
The story of Vítězslava Kaprálová’s is one of a 25-year-old girl who had a career in music of five years. However, even today, 70 years after her death, there are societies and ensembles dedicated to her, her music is still performed and rerecorded and she remains an inspiration to many as a tragic but heroic figure, particularly for many female composers and conductors. Among them is the composer Sylvie Bodorová who studied at the same conservatory as Kaprálová, in Brno.
A plaque was unveiled in Prague on Thursday to a fascinating figure of modern Czech history, General Alois Eliáš. General Eliáš, who had fought in the Czechoslovak Legions in the first world war, was appointed prime minister during the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in the second. While in that post he worked with the resistance – and became the only head of government of an occupied state to be executed by the Nazis.
Many Czechs are familiar with the old expression Panenko Skákavá, which literally means Jumping Virgin Mary, but few know about the origin of the phrase. Jumping Virgin Mary, or more precisely, the Virgin Mary of Skoky, is the patron of what used to be one of Bohemia’s most famous Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites. In this edition of Spotlight, we visit Skoky, now an extinct village with a run-down Baroque church that once attracted large crowds of believers.
Tuesday was a state holiday in the Czech Republic, the Day of Czech Statehood, which marks the feast day of the patron Saint Václav, or Wenceslas. While it has always been a red-letter day for Czech Roman Catholics, who commemorate the martyr’s murder in the year 935, it is only in recent years that the date has gained in political significance. This year the office of the government marked the occasion with a special ceremony to return an 80 year old film epic about the holy monarch to the screen.
A new exhibition at Prague’s Municipal Museum recalls the days when people only had one day off a week, but really knew how to make the most of it. Entitled Prague Restaurants on Days Out, it shows the largely disappeared world of hostelries where people would stop for refreshment at the end of a day-trip from the capital. Radio Prague spoke to the exhibition’s curator, Tomáš Dvořák, to find out more.
What do Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler and Ferdinand Porsche have in common? Most of us would assume that these well-known personalities were all born in Germany or Austria, but all of them, in fact, started life in what is now the Czech Republic. You won't find that much written about them in Czech schoolbooks however - they're not really regarded by Czechs as ' one of us'. But a new exhibition in Prague is trying to change that.
Historians at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes have announced they recently uncovered previously unknown video footage in the archives on the events of 1989. Footage shot – and heavily manipulated - by the former regime’s secret police, the StB. Carefully presented images and a propagandistic voice-over in the “documentary” were meant to give a diametrically different picture of public demonstrations which shook the country 21 years ago, suggesting they were a provocation and a sham. Swiftly overcome by events, though, the Communists