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.
In the last couple of weeks we have looked at the growing tensions in Czechoslovakia in the second half of the 1930s, as pressure from Nazi Germany grew. The period leading up to the Munich Agreement in September 1938, when Britain and France gave Hitler the green light to annex vast areas of Czechoslovakia, is extremely well documented in the Czech Radio archives. The archives also reveal that this was one of the first international diplomatic crises to be played out on the airwaves. Through radio, the Munich crisis became a battle of international
Langhans photographic gallery is currently celebrating the 130th anniversary since the original studio, which became the most famous in the country, was founded in the centre of Prague in 1880. A fraction of the million and a half negatives that were built up there over the following seven decades now forms a valuable pictorial archive which is still being worked on and conserved for the future by a specially created foundation. We look at the archive, ongoing restoration and future plans.
“Hello, hello! Prague, Czechoslovakia calling. Good evening ladies and gentlemen”: Radio Prague welcomes listeners to its English programmes back in 1937. The tone may be a little more formal, but it is not so different from today. Yet much has changed since the troubled times of the later 1930s. Nazi Germany was breathing down Czechoslovakia’s neck and tensions in the mainly German-speaking Sudetenland were rising rapidly. The young British historian Hugh Seton Watson was in Czechoslovakia in September that year, attending an international summer
Many Czechs today consider the First Czechoslovak Republic a golden age in the turbulent 20th century. The country, which existed between the two world wars, is seen as the first free state of Czechs and Slovaks after centuries of Austrian rule, and one of Europe’s few democratic states of the time. But its reality, its values and conflicts often escape the popular understanding of the era. One of the First Republic’s outstanding personalities was the army general and writer Rudolf Medek who embodied some of the values of the time. In this edition
At the beginning of this series we heard the voice of the first Czechoslovak President, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The Masaryk family included several remarkable women, who were also to play their part in 20th century Czech history. Tomáš’s wife Charlotte was American, born in New York in 1850. When the couple married in Brooklyn in 1878, he took on her surname Garrigue as part of his own name, as a gesture of respect. Charlotte went on to devote her life to all things Czech, and she was every bit as energetic in her defence of women’s rights, winning
Earlier this week we remembered the 72nd anniversary of the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15 1939. Much has been written about the years that led up to the occupation: the growing tensions with Czechoslovakia’s German speaking minority, Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and then the Munich Agreement of September 1938 that ceded a quarter of Czechoslovakia’s territory to the German Reich. There is a sense of inevitability about the events, but could things have been different and could Czechoslovakia’s President Edvard Beneš have
How did communist propaganda brainwash people? What were the most frequent words used in the communist press? And was it at all possible to learn any real news from the censored newspapers? These are some of the questions a team of Czech linguists is trying to answer in their Dictionary of Communist Totalitarianism.
Many countries have had famous war animals, one remembered in Great Britain this year was Antis, an Alsatian belonging to Czech airman Václav Robert Bozděch. 60 years ago, in 1949, the animal was awarded the PDSA Dickin medal, the animals’ Victoria Cross, for bravery and outstanding service during World War II. The dog and his owner, part of a six-man crew, flew more than 30 bombing missions over occupied Europe and Nazi Germany, evading formidable German defences, always lucky to make it back. As his and his owner’s fame grew, Antis went from being