Eighty years ago this week, Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk died at the age of eighty-seven. He had led the country from its independence in 1918 for the next seventeen years, enjoying immense popularity throughout that time. Masaryk was known widely as the “President Liberator” and “Father of the Nation”, but although this popularity often slipped into hero-worship, he remained a lifelong democrat and humanist, in stark contrast with many of the world leaders emerging in the 1920s and 1930s. His values are reflected in several
The Civil Rights Movement in the United States sent ripples around the world, not least in the Soviet Union and its satellites. In Czechoslovakia, events were followed closely, as the struggle for the rights of African Americans became a weapon in the ideological battles between East and West. Czech Radio’s archives house several recordings of Civil Rights activists, who visited Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989 or were interviewed at home in the United States. One was the singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, who came to this country several
Czech Radio has brought readers rare, as yet unpublished photographs of the 1968 Russian-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The photos were taken by Polish geologist Leszek Sawicki who was attending a conference in Prague at the time and was trapped in the capital city for several days after the invasion. Mr. Sawicki died earlier this year and the photos have come to Czech Radio courtesy of his wife who discovered them among his belongings.
This August 21 marks the 49th anniversary of the Russian-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Wenceslas Square in Prague has been a pivotal location throughout Czech history, and that certainly applies to 1968, when Soviet tanks symbolically “conquered” Czechoslovakia by taking over this thoroughfare. Jan Urban is a journalist, teacher and author. He was just seventeen years old at the time of the invasion. He joined me at the bottom of Wenceslas Square to think back on those turbulent and painful days that marked the end of the Prague
A new book by Czech historians specifies the number of victims of the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia. According to the book, called Occupation 1968 and its Victims, a total of 137 Czechs and Slovaks died as a result of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and 400 people in the following years.