Saturday, August 4, 2012

Radio Prague Today 8.4.2012

Articles posted today

Gordon Skilling: a Canadian witness of Czechoslovak history

This year is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Canadian historian Gordon Skilling. As we have already reported on Radio Prague, the anniversary has been marked by an international conference and an exhibition at Prague's Kampa Museum, a rare honour for an academic. But Gordon Skilling was different. Between 1937 and his death in 2001, he was in Prague or Bratislava for many of the most important moments in 20th century Czechoslovak history, and this gave him a very close and personal relationship to the Czechs and Slovaks. David Vaughan continues.

The East German refugees in Prague

For a few weeks in the late summer of 1989, Prague became the scene of a bizarre – and now largely forgotten - refugee crisis. It had all begun in the spring, when Hungary had declared its decision to take down the barbed wire on its borders with Austria. A growing number of East Germans, desperate at the suffocating lack of reform in their country, took advantage of this new gap in the Iron Curtain as a way of fleeing to the West. But smuggling themselves into Austria was an uncertain business, and before long, they started seeking refuge at the West German embassy in Budapest - and then in Prague. It was much closer to home than Hungary and easier to get to, as East German citizens did not need a visa.