One of the biggest years in history in the eyes of the people of Eastern and Central Europe is undoubtedly 1989; different Communist governments were steadily being overthrown and the Berlin Wall finally came down, unifying the countries of East and West Germany to form what is known today as Germany.
Václav Havel is a former playwright and dissident, who rose to become the President of the nation of Czechoslovakia as it made the transition to a democratic country with a free market economy. Václav Havel was a chain smoker, who cut a scruffy appearance and was noted for being a quiet man.
Today the Czech Republic – and Prague in particular – is seen as a role model for all other Eastern European countries looking to improve conditions for their citizens and economic conditions for the country as a whole. Prague is seen as a cosmopolitan city to rival many of the more established capitals in Central and Western Europe and has a reputation for being a place that benefits from all the different thing that capitalism brings – as well as some of the negative aspects as well.
After the War Czechoslovakia found itself as a free country once again, led by President Beneš until the onset of the Cold War. The Cold War though led to many in Czechoslovakia voicing their desire to model themselves on the Communist ideology that was beginning to gain prevalence throughout the rest of the region and, over a period of just a few years …
Early in 1968, Antonín Novotný – a politician known for his hard line stance – was replaced as the First Secretary of the Communist Party by the reformist figure of Alexander Dubček, a Slovak. This appointment of a man who had risen through the ranks of the Communist Party undoubtedly shocked the leaders in Russia. Perhaps the most shocking part of his beliefs was that he nearly went as far as to suggest that Czechoslovakia be transformed into a social-democratic state.
The legacy of Communism still very much lives on in the hearts and minds of the Czech Republic and still affects the psychologies of the people, as well as the economic and social state of the country. What is evident is that Communism is something that stole a lot from the Czech people and something that they are still trying to adjust to life without – a process that is still very much ongoing.
During September of 1941, the SS 2nd in-command, and a personal favorite of Hitler, Reinhard Heydrich, who was 1 of the Holocaust masterminds, agreed to replace the ineffectual Otto Neurath as the Czech governor. Heydrich thoroughly understood the part that the Nazi-founded Protectorate of Moravia and Bohemia had in the war efforts of Germany, as the hugely industrialized area was the location of 2 of the biggest armament factories in Europe—1 in Brno, and the other in Pilsen.
Two thousand years ago, the Romans expelled the Jews from Israel (the Holy Land). However: “The Torah was their sanctuary which no army could destroy.”, and throughout the following centuries, Jewish culture survived in enclaves across the globe. Jews initially arrived in Prague during the tenth century. The main intersection of the Jewish Quarter (Široká and Maiselova streets) served as the meeting point for 2 medieval trade routes.
Accumulating tension between the Slovak and Czech majority, and the country’s sizeable German minority, reached a peak when, during 1938, Hitler ordered self determination for the German speaking people of Czechoslovakia. To appease Hitler, France and Britain relinquished the borderlands of the country. During March of 1939, after convincing Slovak nationalists to withdraw and form a near-fascist, ostensibly independent `Slovak State’, Hitler transformed the rest of the country into the `Protectorate of Bohemia Moravia’, or Greater Germany. Six lengthy years of violent rule followed, before Russian troops freed the city during May of 1945.
Bohemia was being ruled by absent kings after George’s death till 1526, when the throne was claimed by the Habsburgs. This vehemently Catholic dynasty governed over the remnants of Rome’s Holy Empire, and concentrated their efforts on guarding their borders with Europe against the significant threat from the Ottomans. At this time, the Protestant religion had developed into a potent influence, and Bohemia’s serious religious factions were just another problem that they had to contend with.
Many experts believe that the Roma, who make up about 0.3% of the Czech population, originated in India, but it is still uncertain how they came to arrive in Central Europe in the 15th century. As soon as they arrived, they were seen as “different” and were cut off from the rest of society, mainly because of their different customs, different clothes and their nomadic way of life. Since their arrival, they have suffered persecution and discrimination in Central Europe.
The Hussite period is perhaps the most important period in Czech history, but it is certainly the most exciting. Jan Hus was a university professor at Charles University and he was a strong believer in the ideas of the English theorist John Wycliffe. Hus was the main protagonist in the movement to have a faith that was based on the Bible, as opposed to the church hierarchy.