European Commission vice president Věra Jourová, whose portfolio includes promoting EU values, transparency and the rule-of-law, called out Russia last week for “distorting” the history of World War II. Specifically, the former Czech minister objected to attempts “to paint victims, like Poland, as perpetrators”. We look into the ongoing war of words between Moscow and former Soviet satellites, not least the Czech Republic, over historical facts.
In connection with this year’s 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Czech Embassy in London has just launched a special project entitled Never Forgotten. During this year Ambassador Libor Sečka plans to lay flowers at every known grave and memorial of Czechoslovak soldiers who died in the UK in the war years, as well as gathering information on the current state of those sites. I discussed the project with Mr. Sečka on the phone from London.
Teplice, the oldest spa town in the central Europe, this autumn plans to send the relics of a clergyman martyred in the 4th century to Dubai. The skull of St. Clari – the patron saint of spas and so-called ‘hot healing’ – will feature prominently at the Czech national pavilion at Expo 2020. While Teplice is a popular destination also for visitors worldwide, the hope is St. Clari could also make the town a site of pilgrimage.
Philosopher Jan Sokol was an MP in the early 1990s, served as Czech education minister and lost in the final round of voting for president in 2003. Barred from studying under the Communists, Professor Sokol came to philosophy via his father-in-law Jan Patočka, an early signatory of Charter 77. In the first part of a two-part interview, he discusses Patočka’s death, the achievements of Charter 77 – which he also signed – and the Velvet Revolution. But our conversation began with Jan Sokol’s family background and his own beginnings.
Czech interest in African American culture goes back to the 19th century. When Antonín Dvořák spent three years in the United States in the 1890s he explored African American and Native American musical traditions, seeing parallels with the Czech experience of living under Austrian domination. In the Czechoslovakia of the 1920s and 30s, interest in American jazz spread rapidly and Native American culture was romanticised in the so-called “tramping” movement. After the war communist Czechoslovakia was quick to point to discrimination and segregation
A new book on Communist Czechoslovakia was launched under the auspices of the Minister of Foreign Affairs at Prague’s Czernin Palace this week. Titled Czechoslovakia: Behind the Iron Curtain, it tracks the history of the communist state, through a combination of narrative, contemporary pictures and extensive oral history in over 600 pages. It was penned by two female Slovak academics Dr Gabriela Beregházyová and Dr Zuzana Palovič. After the official ceremony was ended by a symbolic ringing of keys, I asked Dr Palovič how the idea to write the publication
This week marks exactly 500 years since the minting of the first Joachimsthaler coins, the predecessors of the US dollar. The first thalers or tolars, as they were nicknamed by Czechs, were minted on January 9,1520 in the West Bohemian town of Jáchymov. The popular silver coins soon spread across the Hapsburg Empire and into the New World, where they eventually became the official currency.
In this programme, the eighth in our series mapping this country’s history through the radio archives, we start with the dramatic events of the last days of the war in Prague. The radio played a major role in the Prague Uprising, and through the archives we can map how the city liberated itself from the German occupiers. In the two years that follow, the radio archives give us a picture of a Czechoslovakia returning to some kind of normality, but in February 1948 everything changes. We tell the story as it was heard on the airwaves.
More than half of Czechs believe that Czech modern history is being falsely reinterpreted and over 60 percent have a problem with constructing new memorials that change the accepted view on history, according to a fresh MEDIAN poll conducted exclusively for Czech Radio. The news comes in the wake of controversy surrounding the suggested transfer of a memorial to Soviet marshal Ivan Konev and the construction of another to the controversial Vlasov troops who helped liberate Prague.