Fifty years ago on January 5, 1968, the news came out of the ongoing central committee party meeting of the Czechoslovak communist party that Slovak, Alexander Dubček, had been chosen as the new party boss. Dubček was little known in Czech circles but his name would soon be known around the country and the world.
Czechs and Slovaks are marking 25 years since the break-up of Czechoslovakia and the birth of two independent republics in the heart of Europe. What led to the so-called Velvet Divorce after more than seventy years of a common state and was it inevitable? How do Czechs and Slovaks feel about the break-up today? And have the two neighbor states managed to retain the special relationship born of many years of close co-existence? Find out in Radio Prague’s mini-series devoted to the break-up of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago.
A Prague court has halted a case centred on Communist persecution of kulaks following the death of a man believed to have been the country’s oldest defendant. His alleged crimes took place in the early 1950s when Czechoslovak agriculture was being collectivised, often using extremely harsh measures.
"It’s the economy stupid." That phrase underlying US president Bill Clinton’s first election campaign sums up one of the major fault lines in Czech-Slovak relations in the 20th century and many of the reasons for the eventual divorce. Separated, the two countries initially followed different paths, but the outcome has been surprisingly similar with one notable exception, the euro.
The two main architects of the separation of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago exceptionally shared the same platform in Prague on Monday to give their version of why the dramatic move was necessary and how it played out. Not surprisingly, both the former Czech and Slovak politicians agreed wholeheartedly that history had proved them right.
Today a life peer in Britain’s House of Lords, Alfred Dubs was just six years old when he became one of over 660 Jewish children saved from Nazi-occupied Prague by Sir Nicholas Winton. The Labour politician last year made headlines for attaching an amendment to an immigration bill that offered unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain, though the UK authorities later largely abandoned the scheme. When we spoke recently in London, I asked Lord Dubs – now 85 – about his own beginnings in the UK and attitudes to refugees today. But we
In 2018 Czechs and Slovaks will jointly mark the centenary of the birth of independent Czechoslovakia. At the same time the two nations will look back on 1993, the year that their coexistence in a common state of Czechs and Slovaks ended in divorce. In the first part of Radio Prague’s miniseries on the Velvet Divorce we look at why Czechoslovakia broke up.
Václav Havel has been the subject of many books and quite a few have been devoted to the so-called Czechoslovak underground, the cultural movement which above all in music but also through literature and art ignored the desires and instructions of the ruling communist party. But while the link between the two has often been made, a new book bluntly argues that without the support of the underground, dissident leader Havel would have been nowhere in creating a coherent opposition.