A short walk from the Vltava in Prague’s New Town is the church that witnessed some of the most dramatic moments during the Nazi occupation of the country. The crypt beneath the church was the last hiding place for seven Czechoslovak commandoes, including Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík who assassinated the Reinhardt Heydrich in 1942. The site now houses an exhibition dedicated to their heroic actions. But the church also remains a place of worship for the small Czech Orthodox community.
Several events were held in the Czech Republic on Thursday to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Several Jewish veterans and resistance workers from the Second World War met at Prague’s Czech Centre on Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to the victims of the Shoa, and to remember their fellow fighters.
Fifty years ago today, three boys aged 14 and 15, boarded a regular flight between Prague and Brno. But they had another destination in mind – Munich, in West Germany. With no airport security, one of them had a handgun he had taken from his grandfather, and after some 10 minutes in air, they entered the cockpit and began to act. But the plan went terribly wrong, and they all spent many years in prison. One of them, 65-year-old Michael Procházka, recently put out a book, Confessions of a Plane Hijacker, which recounts the whole story up to his departure
An archaeological expedition organised by the National Museum has made remarkable finds in the area of Wad ban Naqa – ruins dating back to the Kingdom of Meroe in today’s Sudan. The Náprstek Museum is currently holding talks on the expedition’s progress after the first two seasons, including research at a temple dedicated to Nubian lion gods. They have also been studying a circular structure whose origins have remained a mystery since it was first excavated in the 1950s.
A group of Czechs whose ancestors once settled a region in today’s Ukraine, only to come back empty-handed after the Second World War, are now asking the Czech government for help. They would like to get at least partial compensation for their long-gone property. But Czech officials say they cannot help, so the case might end up at the European Court for Human Rights.
A new drama-documentary premiered in Prague on Thursday evening about the incredible story of Nicholas Winton. Called ‘Nicky’s Family’, the film retells the story of the British man who saved hundreds of Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. Winton was later knighted for his efforts, and Sir Nicholas, now 101, was in Prague once again to attend the premiere.
Czechs are marking the 800 anniversary of the birth of Agnes of Bohemia, a princess of royal blood who abandoned her birthright to devote her life to charity. She was canonized more than seven centuries after her death and is undoubtedly one of the most venerated religious figures in the country’s history.
Czechs are marking the 42nd anniversary of the death of student martyr Jan Palach. He set himself on fire and later died in protest against the Soviet led invasion of 1968 and retreat from the reforms, the so-called ‘normalisation’ that followed. The anniversary has relaunched hopes and promises that Prague could finally get a statue to mark the self sacrifice of the 20-year-old student.
It is quite likely that you will never have heard of the Czech teacher, religious thinker, pacifist and humanist, Přemysl Pitter, but he deserves to be remembered as one of the great Czechs of the 20th century. Pitter touched the lives of thousands, and his work helping children during and just after the Second World War, matches the extraordinary achievements Oskar Schindler. In a new biography of Přemysl Pitter, the writer and journalist Pavel Kosatík puts his extraordinary life in context. We find out more in Czech Books with David Vaughan.