In the last edition of Czech Books we featured an interview with Zuzana Justman, who with her older brother and mother survived the wartime Terezín ghetto. Her brother Jiří Robert Pick later wrote a remarkable novel set in the ghetto, under the title “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals”. The book draws richly from his own memories; with an unexpected lightness and humour it tells the story of a teenage boy and the people around him – his friends and the older men sharing a ward with him in the ghetto infirmary. Thanks to Zuzana Justman
As efforts to form a new minority coalition government of the ANO party and the Social Democrats tolerated by the Communists reach their final stage, the Communist Party has been milking the situation to its best advantage. After rocking the boat over the country’s foreign missions, the party now says that unless its bill on taxing Church restitutions passes through the lower house the two parties can look for support elsewhere.
The head of the Communists’ deputies group, Pavel Kováčik, says the
party will only support a mooted ANO-Social Democrats minority coalition if
financial compensation paid to churches for property seized during the
communist era is taxed. The Communists are currently discussing a deal with
ANO under which the former would support a government helmed by them in key
lower house votes.
Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, Mr. Kováčik said disagreements over foreign policy were one reason the Communists were not entering coalition with ANO but would only support such a government.
ANO, the Social Democrats and Freedom and Direct Democracy have previously given their backing to a Communist bill that would tax compensation paid to churches under a major restitution bill approved in 2012.
A group of right-wing protestors who over the weekend disrupted a theatre performance of the controversial play by Croatian director Oliver Frljić have filed a criminal complaint against one of the lead actors as well as the director of the National Theatre in Brno for propagating religious intolerance and defamation of a state symbol. Two other complaints are also pending.
“Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” is a remarkable book by many standards. It is a comic novel set in the wartime Jewish ghetto in Terezín, written by the Czech satirist Jiří Robert Pick some twenty years after he survived the ghetto. The book is a classic, sparkling with life and humour, in defiance of the dehumanizing environment in which it was written. Thanks to J. R. Pick’s sister, the award-winning documentary film-maker Zuzana Justman, the book has just been published in English translation. In a two-part special, Zuzana talks
The 10th annual Church Night gets underway in the Czech Republic on Friday and it’s bigger than ever before. The event, which offers visitors a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of places usually closed to the public, started in 2009 with 25 churches. This year, more than 1,300 churches from all around the country are taking part.
Cardinal Dominik Duka is set to continue as head of the Czech Roman
Catholic Church at the request of Pope Francis. In keeping with church
rules, the prelate formally resigned two weeks ago when he reached the age
of 75. However, on Wednesday the Prague Archbishopric published a letter
from the Apostolic Nunciature in response to his resignation asking him to
Supporters including President Miloš Zeman had called for Cardinal Duka to be allowed to continue in the post but some Czech Catholics had been in favour of him being replaced.
Archbishop, later Cardinal, Josef Beran, become a symbol of opposition to totalitarian regimes. He was dubbed the archbishop who refused to be silenced. The punishment for speaking out was imprisonment first under the Nazi occupation and then the Communists. In this week’s Czechs in History we look at Josef Beran’s exemplary life on the 40th anniversary of his death in exile.
The remains of exiled Czech Cardinal Josef Beran have been taken from the Vatican’s St Peter’s Basilica. On Friday, they will be flown to Prague and later buried in Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral. Cardinal Beran was exiled to Rome in 1965 and died there four years later. He was buried in the Vatican because the communist authorities didn’t approve his final wish for his body to be returned to his homeland.