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.
When Czechoslovak dissidents produced samizdat literature in the late communist period they did so in large part thanks to the material and financial support of the Charter 77 Foundation. It was run by František Janouch, a Czech émigré who is still mainly based in Sweden. In the second half of a two-part interview with the nuclear scientist, we discussed his relationship with Václav Havel, the Velvet Revolution and the work of the Charter 77 Foundation today. But first I asked Mr. Janouch, now 85, how the organisation had managed to get printers
September 28 is the Feast Day of St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. The son of a duke, Wenceslas ruled the country from 922, when he was 15, to his untimely death at the hands of his brother Boleslav on September 28, 935. The day is celebrated as 'Czech Statehood day', and is a public holiday. In this special program Dominik Jůn visits the town of Brandýs nad Labem-Stará Boleslav, where Wenceslas was murdered on his way to mass. His guide is Petra Fialová from the town’s Information Centre.
A plaque commemorating Pavel Kravař, a Czech scholar and Hussite emissary from Bohemia, was recently unveiled in St Andrews in Scotland, close to the spot in Market Street where he was burned at the stake for heresy in 1433. The university master was the first of a succession of religious reformers who were martyred in the town during the Protestant Reformation. The commemoration was initiated by Paul Vyšný, a British historian of Slovak origin who worked at the University of St Andrews and who has long studied the trial of the Czech scholar. I
A nuclear scientist, František Janouch is perhaps best-known for the Charter 77 Foundation, which he set up in exile in Sweden to provide dissidents in his native Czechoslovakia with financial support and technical equipment in the latter years of the communist regime. In this the first half of a two-part interview, Mr. Janouch – who turned 85 last week – recalls the war, his years in the Communist Party, his forced emigration and the beginnings of the Charter 77 Foundation.