The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization and mass protest in Czechoslovakia as a Communist state after World War II. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, continued until 21 August 1968, when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to suppress the reforms; the Prague Spring reforms were a strong attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media and travel. After national discussion of dividing the country into a federation of three republics, Moravia-Silesia and Slovakia, Dubček oversaw the decision to split into two, the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic; this dual federation was the only formal change. The reforms the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets, after failed negotiations, sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country.
The New York Times cited reports of 650,000 men equipped with the most modern and sophisticated weapons in the Soviet military catalogue. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. Resistance was mounted throughout the country, involving attempted fraternization, sabotage of street signs, defiance of curfews, etc. While the Soviet military had predicted that it would take four days to subdue the country, the resistance held out for eight months until it was circumvented by diplomatic stratagems, it became a high-profile example of civilian-based defense. Czechoslovakia remained controlled by the Soviet Union until 1989, when the Velvet Revolution peacefully ended the communist regime. After the invasion, Czechoslovakia entered a period known as "normalization": subsequent leaders attempted to restore the political and economic values that had prevailed before Dubček gained control of the KSČ. Gustáv Husák, who replaced Dubček as First Secretary and became President, reversed all of the reforms.
The Prague Spring inspired music and literature including the work of Václav Havel, Karel Husa, Karel Kryl and Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The process of de-Stalinization in Czechoslovakia had begun under Antonín Novotný in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but had progressed more than in most other states of the Eastern Bloc. Following the lead of Nikita Khrushchev, Novotný proclaimed the completion of socialism, the new constitution accordingly adopted the name Czechoslovak Socialist Republic; the pace of change, was sluggish. In the early 1960s, Czechoslovakia underwent an economic downturn; the Soviet model of industrialization applied poorly to Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was quite industrialized before World War II and the Soviet model took into account less developed economies. Novotný's attempt at restructuring the economy, the 1965 New Economic Model, spurred increased demand for political reform as well; as the strict regime eased its rules, the Union of Czechoslovak Writers cautiously began to air discontent, in the union's gazette, Literární noviny, members suggested that literature should be independent of Party doctrine.
In June 1967, a small fraction of the Czech writer's union sympathized with radical socialists Ludvík Vaculík, Milan Kundera, Jan Procházka, Antonín Jaroslav Liehm, Pavel Kohout and Ivan Klíma. A few months at a party meeting, it was decided that administrative actions against the writers who expressed support of reformation would be taken. Since only a small part of the union held these beliefs, the remaining members were relied upon to discipline their colleagues. Control over Literární noviny and several other publishing houses was transferred to the Ministry of Culture, members of the party who became major reformers — including Dubček — endorsed these moves; as President Antonín Novotný was losing support, Alexander Dubček, First Secretary of the regional Communist Party of Slovakia, economist Ota Šik challenged him at a meeting of the Central Committee. Novotný invited the secretary-general of the Communist Party of Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, to Prague that December, seeking support.
Dubček replaced Novotný as First Secretary on 5 January 1968. On 22 March 1968, Novotný resigned his presidency and was replaced by Ludvík Svoboda, who gave consent to the reforms. Early signs of change were few; when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Presidium member Josef Smrkovský was interviewed in a Rudé Právo article, entitled "What Lies Ahead", he insisted that Dubček's appointment at the January Plenum would further the goals of socialism and maintain the working class nature of the Communist Party. However, right after Dubček assumed power, the scholar Eduard Goldstücker became chairman of the Union of Czechoslovak Writers and thus editor-in-chief of the hard-line communist weekly Literární noviny, which under Novotny had been filled with party loyalists. Goldstücker tested the boundaries of Dubček's devotion to freedom of the press when he appeared on a te
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with chilly winters. Prague has been a political and economic centre of central Europe complete with a rich history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV, it was an important city to its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era. Prague is home to a number of well-known cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe.
Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites; the city has more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe. Prague is classified as an "Alpha −" global city according to GaWC studies and ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016, its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination and as of 2017, the city receives more than 8.5 million international visitors annually. Prague is the fourth most visited European city after London and Rome. During the thousand years of its existence, the city grew from a settlement stretching from Prague Castle in the north to the fort of Vyšehrad in the south, becoming the capital of a modern European country, the Czech Republic, a member state of the European Union.
The region was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. A Jewish chronicler David Solomon Ganz, citing Cyriacus Spangenberg, claimed that the city was founded as Boihaem in c. 1306 BC by an ancient king, Boyya. Around the fifth and fourth century BC, a Celts tribe appeared in the area establishing settlements including an oppidum in Závist, a present-day suburb of Prague, naming the region of Bohemia, which means "home of the Boii people". In the last century BC, the Celts were driven away by Germanic tribes, leading some to place the seat of the Marcomanni king, Maroboduus, in southern Prague in the suburb now called Závist. Around the area where present-day Prague stands, the 2nd century map drawn by Ptolemaios mentioned a Germanic city called Casurgis. In the late 5th century AD, during the great Migration Period following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes living in Bohemia moved westwards and in the 6th century, the Slavic tribes settled the Central Bohemian Region.
In the following three centuries, the Czech tribes built several fortified settlements in the area, most notably in the Šárka valley and Levý Hradec. The construction of what came to be known as Prague Castle began near the end of the 9th century, growing a fortified settlement that existed on the site since the year 800; the first masonry under Prague Castle dates from the year 885 at the latest. The other prominent Prague fort, the Přemyslid fort Vyšehrad, was founded in the 10th century, some 70 years than Prague Castle. Prague Castle is dominated by the cathedral, which began construction in 1344, but wasn't completed until the 20th century; the legendary origins of Prague attribute its foundation to the 8th century Czech duchess and prophetess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. Legend says that Libuše came out on a rocky cliff high above the Vltava and prophesied: "I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars." She ordered a town called Praha to be built on the site.
The region became the seat of the dukes, kings of Bohemia. Under Holy Roman Emperor Otto II the area became a bishopric in 973; until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz. Prague was an important seat for trading where merchants from all of Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Hispano-Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub; the Old New Synagogue of 1270 still stands in the city. Prague was once home to an important slave market. At the site of the ford in the Vltava river, King Vladislaus I had the first bridge built in 1170, the Judith Bridge, named in honour of his wife Judith of Thuringia; this bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1342, but some of the original foundation stones of that bridge remain in the river. It was named the Charles Bridge. In 1257, under King Ottokar II, Malá Strana was founded in Prague on the site of an older village in what would become the Hradčany area; this was the district of the German people, who had the right to administer the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg rights.
The new district was on the bank opposite of the Staré Město, which had borough status and was bordered by a line of walls and fortifications. Prague flourished dur
National Library of the Czech Republic
The National Library of the Czech Republic is the central library of the Czech Republic. It is directed by the Ministry of Culture; the library's main building is located in the historical Clementinum building in Prague, where half of its books are kept. The other half of the collection is stored in the district of Hostivař; the National Library is the biggest library in the Czech Republic, in its funds there are around 6 million documents. The library has around 60,000 registered readers; as well as Czech texts, the library stores older material from Turkey and India. The library houses books for Charles University in Prague; the library won international recognition in 2005 as it received the inaugural Jikji Prize from UNESCO via the Memory of the World Programme for its efforts in digitising old texts. The project, which commenced in 1992, involved the digitisation of 1,700 documents in its first 13 years; the most precious medieval manuscripts preserved in the National Library are the Codex Vyssegradensis and the Passional of Abbes Kunigunde.
In 2006 the Czech parliament approved funding for the construction of a new library building on Letna plain, between Hradčanská metro station and Sparta Prague's football ground, Letná stadium. In March 2007, following a request for tender, Czech architect Jan Kaplický was selected by a jury to undertake the project, with a projected completion date of 2011. In 2007 the project was delayed following objections regarding its proposed location from government officials including Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and President Václav Klaus. Plans for the building had still not been decided in February 2008, with the matter being referred to the Office for the Protection of Competition in order to determine if the tender had been won fairly. In 2008, Minister of Culture Václav Jehlička announced the end of the project, following a ruling from the European Commission that the tender process had not been carried out legally; the library was affected by the 2002 European floods, with some documents moved to upper levels to avoid the excess water.
Over 4,000 books were removed from the library in July 2011 following flooding in parts of the main building. There was a fire at the library in December 2012. List of national and state libraries Official website
Royal Library of the Netherlands
The Royal Library of the Netherlands is based in The Hague and was founded in 1798. The mission of the Royal Library of the Netherlands, as presented on the library's web site, is to provide "access to the knowledge and culture of the past and the present by providing high-quality services for research and cultural experience"; the initiative to found a national library was proposed by representative Albert Jan Verbeek on August 17 1798. The collection would be based on the confiscated book collection of William V; the library was founded as the Nationale Bibliotheek on November 8 of the same year, after a committee of representatives had advised the creation of a national library on the same day. The National Library was only open to members of the Representative Body. King Louis Bonaparte gave the national library its name of the Royal Library in 1806. Napoleon Bonaparte transferred the Royal Library to The Hague as property, while allowing the Imperial Library in Paris to expropriate publications from the Royal Library.
In 1815 King William I of the Netherlands confirmed the name of'Royal Library' by royal resolution. It has been known as the National Library of the Netherlands since 1982, when it opened new quarters; the institution became independent of the state in 1996, although it is financed by the Department of Education and Science. In 2004, the National Library of the Netherlands contained 3,300,000 items, equivalent to 67 kilometers of bookshelves. Most items in the collection are books. There are pieces of "grey literature", where the author, publisher, or date may not be apparent but the document has cultural or intellectual significance; the collection contains the entire literature of the Netherlands, from medieval manuscripts to modern scientific publications. For a publication to be accepted, it must be from a registered Dutch publisher; the collection is accessible for members. Any person aged 16 years or older can become a member. One day passes are available. Requests for material take 30 minutes.
The KB hosts several open access websites, including the "Memory of the Netherlands". List of libraries in the Netherlands European Library Nederlandse Centrale Catalogus Books in the Netherlands Media related to Koninklijke Bibliotheek at Wikimedia Commons Official website
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He became the first human to journey into outer space when his Vostok spacecraft completed one orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961. Gagarin became an international celebrity and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, his nation's highest honour. Vostok 1 was his only spaceflight, but he served as the backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash. Gagarin served as the deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, subsequently named after him. Gagarin died in 1968; the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awards the Yuri A. Gagarin Gold Medal in his honour. Yuri Gagarin was born 9 March 1934 near Gzhatsk, his parents worked on a collective farm: Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin as a carpenter and bricklayer, Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina as a milkmaid. Yuri was the third of four children: older brother Valentin, older sister Zoya, younger brother Boris. Like millions of people in the Soviet Union, the Gagarin family suffered during Nazi occupation in World War II.
Klushino was occupied in November 1941 during the German advance on Moscow, an officer took over the Gagarin residence. The family was allowed to build a mud hut 3 by 3 metres inside, on the land behind their house, where they spent a year and nine months until the end of the occupation, his two older siblings were deported by the Germans to Poland for slave labour in 1943, did not return until after the war in 1945. In 1946, the family moved to Gzhatsk. In 1950, Gagarin entered into an apprenticeship at age 16 as a foundryman at the Lyubertsy Steel Plant near Moscow, enrolled at a local "young workers" school for seventh grade evening classes. After graduating in 1951 from both the seventh grade and the vocational school with honours in moldmaking and foundry work, he was selected for further training at the Saratov Industrial Technical School, where he studied tractors. While in Saratov, Gagarin volunteered for weekend training as a Soviet air cadet at a local flying club, where he learned to fly — at first in a biplane and in a Yak-18 trainer.
He earned extra money as a part-time dock labourer on the Volga River. He applied to attend the First Chkalov Air Force Pilot's School in Orenburg and was accepted as a cadet, he began his military training by flying Yak-18s. Gagarin was promoted to cadet-sergeant on 22 February 1956. Before he was permitted to fly a single-seat aircraft, he was required to show sufficient proficiency to a flight instructor. In one training incident, Gagarin was flying with an instructor, his takeoff and flight was acceptable, but while landing the instructor realized Gagarin was descending too and took over the controls. An identical incident occurred in another training flight two weeks later; this was grounds for Gagarin's dismissal from the flight school. The commander of the regiment saw Gagarin performing fitness training alone in the rain, they decided to give Gagarin another chance at landing. The instructor gave Gagarin a cushion to sit on. While the landing was still rough, it was within acceptable limits and Gagarin was permitted to solo.
He soloed in a MiG-15 in 1957. He became a lieutenant in the Soviet Air Forces on 5 November 1957 after he accumulated 166 hours and 47 minutes of flight time, he graduated the next day. After graduation, he was assigned to the Luostari airbase in Murmansk Oblast, close to the Norwegian border, where terrible weather made flying risky, his assignment there was for two years. Three months into his assignment, he became a military third class. On 6 November 1959, he received the rank of senior lieutenant. In 1960, after an extensive search and selection process, Gagarin was chosen with 19 other pilots for the Soviet space program. Gagarin was further selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six, from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok programme would be chosen. Gagarin and other prospective candidates were subjected to experiments designed to test physical and psychological endurance. Gagarin experienced microgravity with the use of a drop tower, which allowed for 2–3 seconds of weightlessness.
The eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov due to their performance during training sessions as well as their physical characteristics — space was limited in the small Vostok cockpit, both men were short. Gagarin was 1.57 metres tall. In August 1960, when Gagarin was one of 20 possible candidates, a Soviet Air Force doctor evaluated his personality as follows: Modest. Gagarin was a favoured candidate by his peers; when the 20 candidates were asked to anonymously vote for which other candidate they would like to see as the first to fly, all but t
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic ruled Czechoslovakia from 1948 until 23 April 1990, when the country was under communist rule. Formally known as the Fourth Czechoslovak Republic, it has been regarded as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Following the coup d'état of February 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized power with the support of the Soviet Union, the country was declared a people's republic after the Ninth-of-May Constitution became effective; the traditional name Československá republika was changed on 11 July 1960 following implementation of the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia as a symbol of the "final victory of socialism" in the country, remained so until the Velvet Revolution in November 1989. Several other state symbols were changed in 1960. Shortly after the Velvet Revolution, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was renamed to the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic; the official name of the country was the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Conventional wisdom suggested that it would be known as the "Czechoslovak Republic"—its official name from 1920-1938 and from 1945-1960.
However, Slovak politicians felt this diminished Slovakia's equal stature, demanded that the country's name be spelled with a hyphen, as it was spelled from Czechoslovak independence in 1918 until 1920, again in 1938 and 1939. President Havel changed his proposal to "Republic of Czecho-Slovakia"—a proposal that did not sit well with Czech politicians who saw reminders of the 1938 Munich Agreement, in which Nazi Germany annexed a part of that territory; the name means "Land of the Czechs and Slovaks" while Latinised from the country's original name – "the Czechoslovak Nation" – upon independence in 1918, from the Czech endonym Češi – via its Polish orthographyThe name "Czech" derives from the Czech endonym Češi via Polish, from the archaic Czech Čechové the name of the West Slavic tribe whose Přemyslid dynasty subdued its neighbors in Bohemia around AD 900. Its further etymology is disputed; the traditional etymology derives it from an eponymous leader Čech. Modern theories consider it an obscure derivative, e.g. from a medieval military unit.
Meanwhile, the name "Slovak" was taken from the Slavic "Slavs" as the origin of the word Slav itself remains uncertain. During the state's existence, it was referred to "Czechoslovakia" or sometimes the "CSSR" and "CSR" in short. Before the Soviet liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945, Edvard Beneš, the Czechoslovak leader, agreed to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's demands for unconditional agreement with Soviet foreign policy and the Beneš decrees. While Beneš was not a Moscow cadre and several domestic reforms of other Eastern Bloc countries were not part of Beneš' plan, Stalin did not object because the plan included property expropriation and he was satisfied with the relative strength of communists in Czechoslovakia compared to other Eastern Bloc countries. In April 1945, the Third Republic was led by a National Front of six parties; because of the Communist Party's strength and Beneš's loyalty, unlike in other Central and Eastern European countries, the Kremlin did not require Eastern Bloc politics or "reliable" cadres in Czechoslovak power positions, the executive and legislative branches retained their traditional structures.
The Communists were the big winners in the 1946 elections, taking a total of 114 seats. Not only was this the only time a Communist Party won a free election anywhere in Europe during the Cold War era, but it was one of only two free elections held in the Soviet bloc. Klement Gottwald, leader of the KSČ, became Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia. However, the Soviet Union was disappointed that the government failed to eliminate "bourgeois" influence in the army, expropriate industrialists and large landowners and eliminate parties outside of the "National Front". Hope in Moscow was waning for a Communist victory in the 1948 elections following a May 1947 Kremlin report concluded that "reactionary elements" praising Western democracy had strengthened. Following Czechoslovakia's brief consideration of taking Marshall Plan funds, the subsequent scolding of Communist parties by the Cominform at Szklarska Poręba in September 1947, Rudolf Slánský returned to Prague with a plan for the final seizure of power, including the StB's elimination of party enemies and purging of dissidents.
Thereafter, Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin arranged a communist coup d'état, followed by the occupation of non-Communist ministers' ministries, while the army was confined to barracks. On 25 February 1948, Beneš, fearful of civil war and Soviet intervention and appointed a Communist-dominated government, sworn in two days later. Although members of the other National Front parties still nominally figured, this was, for all intents and purposes, the start of out-and-out Communist rule in the country. Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, the only prominent Minister still left who wasn't either a Communist or fellow traveler, was found dead two weeks later. On 30 May, a single list of candidates from the National Front—now an organization dominated by the Communist Party—was elected to the National Assembly. After passage of the Ninth-of-May Constitution on 9 June 1948, the country became a People's Republic until 1960. Although it was not a Communist document, it was close enough to the Soviet model that Beneš refused to sign it.
He'd resigned a week before it was ratified, died in September. The Ninth-of-May Constitution confirmed that the KSČ possessed absolute power, as other Communist parties had in the Eastern Bloc. On 11
Jiří Hájek was a Czech politician and diplomat. Together with Václav Havel, Zdeněk Mlynář, Pavel Kohout, Hájek was one of the founding members and architects of Charter 77. Hájek worked as a lawyer. From a young age he was a member of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party. During World War II Hájek was imprisoned. After the war he became a member of parliament for the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party and also a secret member of the Communist Party. During 1948 – 1969 he was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, during 1950 – 1953 he was the rector of the University of Economics. From 1955 Hájek worked in diplomacy: in 1955–1958 as an ambassador in Britain, in 1958–1962 as a deputy of the minister of foreign affairs, in 1962–1965 he represented Czechoslovakia in United Nations. Between 1965 and 1968 he was the minister of education. From April to September 1968, he served as the minister of foreign affairs in Dubček's government. After the Soviet Union army took control over Czechoslovakia he protested against this in a speech at the United Nations – this caused his dismissal from high offices and from the communist party.
Until 1973 Hájek worked in the Historical Institute of Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Together with Václav Havel, Zdeněk Mlynář, Pavel Kohout, Hájek was one of the founding members and architects of Charter 77. Jiří Hájek emerged as one of three leading spokesmen of Charter 77, thus becoming the target of police interrogations and threats, he was a strong defender of this uncompromising document, which voiced the principles of universal human rights. In 1987, Hájek was awarded the first Professor Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize. After the fall of socialism in Czechoslovakia Hájek served as an advisor of Alexander Dubček but was unable to obtain significant political influence, he died of an unspecified cancer on 22 October 1993. Biography at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Biography