Pavel Tigrid honoured in Paris

Bertrand Delanoe, Pavel Fischer, Vaclav Havel, Ivana Tigridova, Alexandr Vondra, photo: CTK
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A special plaque has been unveiled in Paris in honour of the late journalist Pavel Tigrid - one of the most influential Czech personalities of the twentieth century.

Pavel Tigrid (né Schoenfeld) is perhaps best known for his work as a Czech journalist and broadcaster in exile during the Cold War. He established and for a number of years ran the Czechoslovak section of Radio Free Europe, which broadcast reports from the "free world" to communist Czechoslovakia.

He subsequently moved to Paris and became a key figure in the Czechoslovak community living in exile in that country. He set up and published a magazine in the French capital, which was called Svedectvi or "Witness." This was avidly read by Czechoslovak émigrés abroad and many copies were also smuggled across the border to Czechoslovakia, where it played a significant role in fostering debate and discourse among Czech and Slovak dissidents.

It was for his work in supporting and encouraging opposition to the communist regime in Czechoslovakia that the city of Paris decided to honour Tigrid by mounting a plaque on the building where the magazine "Witness" was published for many years.

Vaclav Havel and Ivana Tigridova, photo: CTK
Vaclav Havel was among those attending the plaque's unveiling. He was pleased that his friend Pavel Tigrid's contribution to the fight against totalitarianism was also being recognised outside of the Czech Republic.

"I think that Pavel Tigrid in his own way was really tied to France and Paris and it's good that the French have also recognised his importance, which was not just confined to Czechoslovakia but extended beyond its borders."

After the Velvet Revolution, Pavel Tigrid returned to his native country where he served as Minister for Culture and was later an adviser to President Vaclav Havel before retiring to France, which had become something of a "second home" to him.

Bertrand Delanoe, Pavel Fischer, Vaclav Havel, Ivana Tigridova, Alexandr Vondra, photo: CTK
Although Tigrid died at eighty five years of age in 2003, his wife Ivana Tigridova and other family members were able to attend the unveiling ceremony along with dignitaries including the mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe and Czech deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra.

Speaking to Radio Prague Mrs Tigridova was evidently delighted that her husband had been honoured by the city and country where he had lived in exile for so many years.

"I think this event is a very nice and pleasing thing. I'm a bit disappointed that the plaque is too high and it won't be easy to for many people to read it. I would like to place a bit lower down. But in the end the fact that tribute has been paid to my husband and his magazine is very important. Naturally, I'm extremely delighted about it."