Today's Mailbox includes - Topics : QSL card featuring Holasovice, Czech-German relations and Radio Prague's e-mail news service Quotes from: Jonathan Murphy, Anne Pilz, Robert Steen, Norma Hervey, Michele Pixa and Wes Preble
O: Yes, it's time for Mailbox, today presented by Olga Szantova
N: and Nicole Klement. And, of course, by our listeners, those who have written us that is, because without listeners' letters there would be no Mailbox.
O: We do try to answer questions and give information about life in the Czech Republic, but we are also grateful for what WE learn about Radio Prague from our listeners. And I'd like to thank Jonathan Murphy from Mallow Co. Cork in Ireland for informing us about reactions to Radio Prague's programs. First of all about the Czech Christmas carols members of our staff recorded and which, by the way, you can hear on our web-site.
"The carol singing was wonderful, complimented by my mother and praised as very original on the Voice of America's "Communications World" programme on the 6th of January. The presenter Dr Kim Elliott even played a short extract!"
And Jonathan continues "If you don't already know, it is my pleasure to inform you that your QSL cards were elected 6th best in the world, in Adventist World Radio's annual "Wavesan" competition. I think yours are the best in the world, without a doubt. Well done!"
N: Well, that's nice to hear, but it's also a reminder that we promised to inform listeners about the places shown on this year's QSL cards, the series showing 8 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic.
O: Last week we talked about Cesky Krumlov, the historic town in South Bohemia and I suggest we stay in that part of the country which is famous for its well preserved baroque towns and villages. And one of those is Holasovice, another UNESCO heritage site.
O: The yards are behind the buildings, you come to them through wide gates, wide enough for a horse drawn wagon. These gates are next to the house, the houses have their own front doors from the street. In the yard are the farm animals, the granaries, and the horses and wagons on which people go to their fields, located outside the village.
N: The walls of the farm houses are usually white with many colourful paintings and decorations on them, the patterns are different in each area, with motives that also appear on the traditional folk costumes of the area and the painted Easter eggs the girls make there.
O: Holasovice was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998 because it has been only very slightly affected by constructional alterations and has 22 large brick houses which are perfect examples of what is known as rustic Baroque - the Baroque style adapted to village traditions.
N: And, as we've said, you can see a part of the village on Radio Prague's QSL card, or, if you have access to the Internet, on Radio Prague's web-site which shows all our QSL cards.
O: And we'll be talking about the other QSL cards in future programs on Mailbox. But right now, back to listeners' letters. Here is an e-mail from Anne Pilz
"The expulsion of the ethnic German population in 1945 and after 1945 is certainly the darkest event in Czech history because of the extreme cruelty with which this population was treated and because the Czech public still approves of what took place. Happily, there are exceptions and highest regards to those who give hope that the Czech population will one day understand its history in relations to human rights and dignity."
N: Anne has touched a real sore point not only in Czech history, but in contemporary Czech mentality, in this country's foreign relations, and so on.
O: To do the problem justice we'd have to go into the whole history of Czech-German relations throughout history, with the centuries of German domination of the Czech lands when Czechs had to struggle to maintain their national identity. Independent Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918 lasted only 20 years and then came German Nazi occupation during the Second World War. It was really cruel, there were mass executions, whole villages were burned down, Czech schools closed down, etc. So when it was over in 1945, many people wanted revenge and there were numerous excesses, some 3 million Germans were moved out of the country, often in a very cruel way.
N: And that has complicated even further the relationship between Czechs and Germans. President Havel has expressed his regrets over the way Germans were expelled from the country after the war, but many older Czechs, who remember the occupation feel that regardless of all the excesses, they were nothing compared to what the Germans had done to the Czechs during the years of occupation.
O: But of course revenging cruelty by cruelty is no way of solving things and I have a feeling the whole problem won't be solved until it becomes history, I mean when it stops being a part of the lives and experience of people who remember the events. For the younger generation the present and the future are more important and much is happening to deepen the good relations between the two nations. But that's a different issue, and I do agree with Anne Pilz that every nation, including Czechs, does have to come to terms with its history, especially with its negative aspects.
N: We'll be coming back to the topic on Radio Prague, because it is a problem very much in the news. And talking about news, we have been receiving much response to our news bulletins. Here's just one example: Robert Steen e-mailed us
"We have friends in the Czech Republic and we are glad we can share a part of public life and local news over there, for instance the local weather. We have been as tourists to your country four times, and we feel already somewhat home in your country. We appreciate your work."
O: And much along the same lines Norma Hervey writes
"Thank you very much. Your service is invaluable to me as a Fulbright scholar in Prague in 2001, a person who taught for a year in Olomouc in 1994-95, and one who brings US students to the Czech Republic every year."
N: The service Norma is referring to is Radio Prague's newsletter, a service in which we send the texts of our news-bulletins free of charge to subscribers by e-mail. There is a small change in that service as of Saturday, Jan. 12th. The daily e-mail news is no longer sent out in the mornings, but at around 19 hours UTC. The change was made to provide subscribers with the most up-to-date information on events in the Czech Republic.
O: Nevertheless, not all subscribers seem to like the change. Michele Pixa, one of the many English speaking expatriots, who read our news bulletins here, in the Czech Republic is one of those who do not like the change.
"Are you sure you want to do this? I am sure many people only read the news you send at work, and this way would be getting yesterday's news every day. I really like getting what you send, and I am disappointed about this change. But if you think it will improve the articles, I guess you should do what you need to do."
O: Yes, we do think it's better this way. It enables us to get the whole day's news into that day's bulletin, not the one issued next morning. But if you want the latest news throughout the day, you can get it on Radio Prague's web-site - www.radio.cz, where news bulletins are brought up to date two times a day.
N: And people living abroad, who form the bulk of our subscribers and listeners will, we are confident, find it's a change for the better. For example Wes Preble in Wichita, Ks, USA writes
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing these e-mails. I have enjoyed reading them over the last year or so and it is very interesting hearing news from an opinion outside of America because contrary to popular belief we Americans are not always right in our views. Keep up the great work!"
N: We'll certainly do our best. And in order to do that we need your letters, comments and questions. So don't forget to write - the address is Radio Prague, Prague 2, 120 99, Czech Republic
O: or, if you prefer the internet - English@radio.cz