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★ Czech Republic & Czechoslovakia

Czech Republic & Czechoslovakia: see Moravians & Soviet Union & Cold War & Revolution & Dictatorship & Protest & Dissent & Yugoslavia & Democracy & Europe & Nazis

Zdenuk Urbanek - The Plastic People of the Universe TV - Visions of War TV - Third Reich TV - Nazi Underworld TV - Hitlers Bodyguard TV - Christopher Hitchens - K Bartosek - Neville Chamberlain - Eduard Goldstucker - Hitler: A Profile TV - John Pilger - Female Witness - Stacey Dooley TV - Misha Glenny - Niall Ferguson TV - Grin Without a Cat aka The Base of the Air is Red 1977 - Heroin Holiday in the Czech Republic TV - Scam City TV - Vive le Revolution! Joan Bakewell on May 1968 -

 

 

 

In dictatorships we are more fortunate than you in the West in one respect.  We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and nothing of what we watch on television, because we know it’s propaganda and lies.  Unlike you in the West, we’ve learnt to look behind the propaganda and to read between the lines.  Unlike you, we know that the real truth is always subversive.  Zdenuk Urbanek, novelist & Charter 77, interview John Pilger

 

 

They are afraid of the old for their memory.  Theyre afraid of the young for their innocence.  Theyre afraid of the graves and the flowers people put on them.  Theyre afraid of those who arent in the Party.  Theyre afraid of singers, tennis players, Santa Claus, archives, each other.  Theyre afraid of truth.  Theyre afraid of freedom.  Theyre afraid of democracy.  Theyre afraid of Socialism.  So why the hell are we afraid of them?  The Plastic People of the Universe, song lyrics of banned pop group & forerunner to Charter 77

 

 

Hitler makes territorial demands on Czechoslovakia.  Visions of War: The World in Flames, 2012

 

Czechoslovakia is stripped of the Sudetenland.  ibid.

 

 

Hitler had demanded that Czechoslovakia cede a large portion of its German speaking territory – the Sudetenland – to the Third Reich.  Third Reich: The Rise I, History 2010

 

 

In Nazi occupied territories like the former Czechoslovakia thousands were tortured or murdered by German occupiers.  In 1941 SS security chief Reinhard Heydrich ruled the so-called protectorate with an iron fist.  Nazi Underworld: Deadly Missions of World War II, National Geographic 2013

 

 

The formidable Czech border defences which had been betrayed without a shot being fired were gloated over.  The following March, Hitler broke his supposed deal with Chamberlain.  The German army invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, and there was little the international community could do.  Hitler’s Bodyguard: Kill Hitler Before the War Starts, National Geographic 2013  

 

 

Very often the test of one’s allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience.  I first became involved with the Czech opposition in 1968 when it was an intoxicating and celebrated cause.  Then, during the depressing 1970s and 1980s I was a member of a routine committee that tried with limited success to help the reduced forces of Czech dissent to stay nourished (and published).  The most pregnant moment of that commitment was one that I managed to miss at the time: I passed an afternoon with Zdenek Mlynar, exiled former secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who in the bleak early 1950s in Moscow had formed a friendship with a young Russian militant with an evident sense of irony named Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev.  In 1988 I was arrested in Prague for attending a meeting of one of Vaclav Havel’s Charter 77 committees.  That outwardly exciting experience was interesting precisely because of its almost Zen-like tedium.  I had gone to Prague determined to be the first visiting writer not to make use of the name Franz Kafka, but the numbing bureaucracy got the better of me.  When I asked why I was being detained, I was told that I had no need to know the reason!  Totalitarianism is itself a cliché (as well as a tundra of pulverizing boredom) and it forced the cliché upon me in turn.  I did have to mention Kafka in my eventual story.  The regime fell not very much later, as I had slightly foreseen in that same piece that it would.  (I had happened to notice that the young Czechs arrested with us were not at all frightened by the police, as their older mentors had been and still were, and also that the police themselves were almost fatigued by their job.  This was totalitarianism practically yawning itself to death.)  A couple of years after that I was overcome to be invited to an official reception in Prague, to thank those who had been consistent friends through the stultifying years of what ‘The Party’ had so perfectly termed ‘normalization’.  As with my tiny moment with Nelson Mandela, a whole historic stretch of nothingness and depression, combined with the long and deep insult of having to be pushed around by boring and mediocre people, could be at least partially canceled and annealed by one flash of humor and charm and generosity.  Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

 

 

The system that impedes the liberation of man in our country can only be negated by actions, not words; a revolutionary disavowal – the only authentic sort – cannot be attained by a pure and simple substitution of persons. Otherwise the tottering thrones will remain thrones from which a new oligarchic bureaucracy will exercise control over us all.  K Bartosek, open letter to Czech workers 1968

 

 

It is my irrevocable resolve to wipe out Czechoslovakia in the foreseeable future using military action.  Adolf Hitler

 

 

Then the tanks arrived.  It was a shock.  Nobody could believe it.  Vera Caslavska 

 

 

The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem which has now been achieved is in my view only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.  Neville Chamberlain

 

cf.

 

This was taken as a terrible betrayal by our Allies who had repeatedly assured us from the beginning of Czechoslovakia that they would guarantee our independence.  They betrayed us.  Eduard Goldstucker, Czech diplomat

 

 

Hitler made use of the fascist Jozef Tiso to precipitate the fall of Czechoslovakia.  Hitler: A Profile, 1995 

 

At six in the morning German troops crossed the border reaching Prague the Czech capital three hours later.  This was no longer a war of flowers.  ibid.

 

That very day Hitler entered the city ... Neither England nor France mobilised.  I knew it! he said euphorically.  ‘In two weeks no-one will even mention it.  ibid.

 

 

Since ’68 there was a very small group of people who remained free, paid for that freedom by not being in a normal job or being in very bad jobs and so on.  Julius Tomin, teacher

 

 

Why should people have to go to prison because they sign a Charter?  In January this year a group calling themselves Charter 77 announced their intention of informing the Prague regime of ways in which a state law protecting human rights was being broken.  John Pilger, A Faraway Country, ITV 1977

 

So Chamberlain tried and tried and tried again to let Hitler have Sudetenland which was part of Czechoslovakia, and of course with his boyish tenacity he succeeded.  What the admiring crowds did not realise that his efforts were a prelude to World War II.  ibid.   

 

These audacious attempts of the Party to literally give power back to the people were unique in the history of Socialism.  ibid.

 

Like most small nations the Czechs wanted to go a third way.  Their own way.  In spite of all the years of oppression theyve never forgotten their democratic traditions, and its fair to guess that a majority of them want their country to be Socialist, democratic and fiercely independent.  ibid. 

 

 

You can see old people standing around with tanks and trying to explain to these young boys, these soldiers, that no-one wants them here in Czechoslovakia.  Female witness to Soviet invasion

 

 

I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.  Vaclav Havel, speech October 1989

 

 

That special time caught me up in its wild vortex and – in the absence of leisure to reflect on the matter – compelled me to do what had to be done.  Vaclav Havel, re presidential election 1992

 

 

Thousands of stag parties come here.  They’re here for the cheap beer and beautiful women.  Stacey Dooley: Sex, Stags and Prague, BBC 2013

 

Easy targets for a host of petty criminals.  ibid.

 

 

Road of Shame – the highway that linked Dresden and Prague via the heart of Czechoslovakia’s heavy-industry complex, northern Bohemia.  In a depressed and chaotic economic climate, young Czech women began selling themselves for pocket money on the E55.  Misha Glenny, McMafia

 

Belchev and his henchmen had tortured and raped each of the forty women who were rescued by police when they finally raided the Dubi brothel in the summer of 1997.  During their imprisonment, the women were required to earn a minimum of £2,000 per month (naturally they never saw any of this money).  ibid.

 

Throughout much of the forty years that Prague endured communist control, people were kept in fear lest this administrative leviathan came knocking at the their door with an arrest warrant.  The Velvet Revolution in November 1989 was meant to put a stop to all this.  ibid.  

 

But while Kafka’s bureaucracy may have moved into the shadows after the Revolution, it still lurked discreetly.  ibid.  

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