As the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution draws near, we take you to places that are closely associated with the events that led to the collapse of the Communist regime 30 years ago. In the third episode of our mini-series, we visit Wenceslas Square and Letná plain, the scene of spontaneous demonstrations, which followed the brutal police crackdown on an unarmed student demonstration on November 17, 1989.
In a remarkable work of oral history, four students with the help of former dissident and award winning author Aleš Palán have produced a 270 page history of the events that took place in Prague on November 17, 1989. One of them is Alžběta Ambrožová, a 26 year old graduate of English and American Studies. She says that around 300 testimonies were collected through a mix of interviews and online questionnaires. I began by asking her about how people felt going into that watershed event in Czech history.
As the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution draws near, we take you to places that played a significant role in the events leading to the collapse of the Communist regime 30 years ago. In the second episode of our mini-series, we visit the former Laterna Magika theatre in central Prague, which served as the headquarters of the Civic Forum.
Czech Radio marked the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on Monday with an international conference on the fall of communism in Central Europe and the transformation processes that followed. Aside from leading experts in the fields of economics, political sciences and journalism, the speakers’ list also featured the names of prominent former dissidents and politicians such as Lech Wałęsa, Magdaléna Vášáryová and Václav Klaus.
November 11 is the 80th anniversary of the death of Jan Opletal, a Prague student who had been gunned down at an anti-Nazi demonstration in the city a fortnight earlier. Opletal became a symbol of Czech resistance to the German occupation and a march held in his honour helped spark the Velvet Revolution five decades after his death.
Though little-known today, Marie Schmolka was for several years one of Prague’s key organisers helping Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, while she also helped arrange transports of children to the UK that saved hundreds of lives. On Monday Schmolka is receiving, in memoriam, honorary citizenship of Prague 1, as officials finally honour the heroic work she carried out in her native city.
Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution was sparked by a student demonstration on November 17, 1989 that was brutally quelled by riot police. Among those on the front line of those clashes was writer Magdaléna Platzová. The daughter of dissident Eda Kriseová, at 17 years old she had already taken part in a number of demonstrations. But, she says, nothing prepared her for the violence that surrounded her on Prague’s Národní St. on that now famous day.
As the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution draws near, we take you to places that played a significant role in the events leading to the collapse of the Communist regime 30 years ago. In the first episode of our mini-series, we visit Národní třída, the scene of a brutal police crackdown on an unarmed student demonstration on November 17. It was this event that marked the beginning of the revolution.
The Czech Radio archives give us a rich and nuanced picture of the months leading up to the Munich Agreement of September 1938 that resulted in Nazi Germany annexing huge areas of Czechoslovakia. So many recordings survive that we can reconstruct the events leading up to Munich almost day by day. They include insights from many different angles, not least the perspective of the German-speakers of Czechoslovakia, those who supported, but also those who opposed Hitler. The archives offer a sober warning of how easily a democratic state can be shattered
Prague’s historically working-class Žižkov district is perhaps best known today for its abundance of pubs (even by Czech standards) and colossal TV Tower – once voted the world’s second ugliest building. Lesser-known is the rich cultural history of what some natives proclaim the “Independent Republic of Žižkov”. Two of its proudest sons, Jaroslav and Miroslav Čvančara, have just published a sweeping illustrated book about the Prague 3 district, literally filling in the historical picture.