Jaroslav Jezek

Today in Mailbox: post-war persecution of ethnic Germans, politicians' infidelity, Czech jazz music. Listeners quoted: Rudolf Pueschel, Karin Roos, Pat Barry.

We start off with a comment by Rudolf Pueschel from somewhere in cyberspace:

"Your article 'Bizzare announcements to remind young people of the fate of Jews' reminds me of the fate of Germans in the former Czechoslovakia: Marked by white arm bands they were forbidden by government decrees to enter restaurants, own radios, attend schools, leave their home by more than 4 kilometers, use sidewalks ..."

Now, I'm sure you've heard some of our reports and features on the persecution of ethnic Germans in the years after WWII, especially on the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion and confiscation of property of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. But the question of the extent to which Germans were persecuted is of course a very sensitive topic. So, we've asked Tomas Jelinek of the Czech-German Fund for the Future to react to your comment, Mr Pueschel, and he had this to say:

"If the letter came from a direct eye-witness he could have suffered in the described ways although I don't think in all these ways. But if the letter was written by a teacher then we should note that one cannot view this so simply and compare the Holocaust and the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans in this way."

So, what Mr Jelinek is saying is that what you describe, Mr Pueschel happened to a significant number of Germans but not as part of an organised and systematic plan, as was the case with the Holocaust.

We continue now with a remark from Karin Roos, who also sent us an e-mail without specifying where she is actually listening from:

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek,  photo: CTK
"Since when are Czechs so interested in what is going on in the bedrooms of known people? I find it unacceptable, voyeuristic, and also slightly frightening that the Czech press is imitating the puritanical streak of US citizens and press."

Well, Ms Roos, I cannot agree with you more. One of the most popular papers in the Czech Republic is the tabloid Blesk. But in this case - and I believe you are referring to the recent report about our Prime Minister's infidelity - it was the Prime Minister himself who publicly announced that he was leaving his wife to move in with his pregnant mistress. That is why it was covered by the entire Czech press. You'd be interested to know that our Prime Minister's infidelity has not damaged his reputation - and he is not the only politician. Another man caught on camera with another woman was our president, Vaclav Klaus.

Well, on to a more pleasant topic - the listeners' competition:

This month we would like to know the name of a Jesuit missionary, born in Brno, who worked as a botanist and pharmacist in the Philippines where he also died in 1706. Half a century later, the Swedish scientist Carl Linne named a genus of flowering plants after him in his honour.

Please send us your answers by the end of January to [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic which are also the addresses for your reception reports.

And we end the programme with a quote by Pat Barry from Canada, who listens to the Radio Prague programmes that are re-broadcast on Radio One, CBC-Montreal. You say you enjoyed the Czechs in History on the life of journalist Ferdinand Peroutka and would like to know more about the music we played after the feature...

"At the end of this morning's program-- you played a lively jazz tune by a group that sounds like the Benny Goodman trio although I don't think it is them. The solo work is by the clarinettist and pianist and the latter resembles the style of Teddy Wilson. This is not the first time I heard this piece played at the end of the program. Could you provide me with the name of the group and the title of the piece as I would like to obtain a copy of it, if it is available in Canada."

Now, this is a piece that seems to be quite popular with our listeners. It is by the 1920s and 1930s composer Jaroslav Jezek and is called Bile Sestry, which can be translated into either "white sisters" or "white nurses".