A few years ago I spent an unforgettable day with Jaroslav and Alžběta Hofrichter. It was 2013, Jaroslav was 93, Alžběta 91, and they were living in sheltered accommodation for Second World War veterans at Prague’s Military Hospital. I was there to hear their life story, a tale of courage, resilience, a touch of luck and, above all, of the enduring power of love. The Hofrichters were known by their many friends as the “turtledoves”. Having met them I could see why. If there is an elixir for a happy marriage, they had found it. Jaroslav spent four
Plans are afoot to move the remains of General František Moravec from the US to his hometown of Čáslav in central Bohemia. If the funding can be raised, the local authorities are offering a new site for the ashes of the man who headed Czechoslovak military intelligence before and during WWII and is said to have ordered Operation Anthropoid.
The local council of Prague’s western Řeporyje district has unanimously voted in favour of building a memorial to the Russian Liberation Army troops that helped fight Nazi forces during the Prague Uprising in May 1945. The vote was preceded by a heated confrontation between the district’s mayor and representatives of the Russian federation about the historical legacy of the troops often referred to in Czech as “Vlasovci”.
Hundreds of thousands of documents were recently added to the website of the Arolsen Archives organisation, which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection on Nazi persecution. Not only do they offer new opportunities to find out what happened to victims, but they also provide details on some of the leading figures of 20th century Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Radio archives include many recordings from the time of World War II. They come from both sides: propaganda from within occupied Bohemia and Moravia aimed at intimidating the population and bullying them into supporting the Reich, but also recordings from abroad. Both the BBC and the government in exile in London were broadcasting to occupied Europe in Czech, at the same time informing the wider world about the fate of Czechoslovakia in English. Some of the extracts we’ll be hearing have become well known, but our archives also hold many
Soldier, topographer, polar explorer, but also painter, Julius von Payer was a man of many skills. Despite being born in the West Bohemian spa town of Teplice, he is a figure unknown to most Czechs today. Nevertheless, his efforts were immortalised by the discovery of a polar island which he named Franz Josef Land.
The early 20th century naïve painter and sketch artist Robert Guttmann, in whose honour the exhibition gallery of the Jewish Museum in Prague is named, was famous in his day. Mainly due to his striking appearance, eccentric manner and extensive travels – often on foot – in promotion of the nascent Zionist movement. A fixture in Prague cafés and bars, where he sold his art for pocket change, “the Professor”, as he was known, was among the most photographed and caricatured personalities in Czechoslovakia. Yet few know his story today.
The Moravian town of Nové Město is renaming a street on its main square in honour of a Jewish family whose tragic fate featured in the international bestseller Hana’s Suitcase. The tribute comes ahead of the anniversary of the death of the only family member to have survived the Holocaust – who was denied a Czech state honour due to an unrelated political spat.