The introductory message
Time begins with a moment, continues with a short stretch of time, then a period, a stage, and ends with an epoch. In this chain, only the moment is an unquestionable fact, everything else is subject to interpretation, opinion or even misinterpretation.
It consequently comes as no surprise that the Czech News Agency (ČTK), as a national agency whose mission is to provide information for the free formation of opinions, has chosen moments as the leading motif of its fifth outdoor traveling exhibition. This time, these are moments from the life of the common state of Czechs and Slovaks, from its end and the establishment of two new sovereign, mutually friendly republics.
In past years we have used the agency’s photographs to look at: the century since the founding of Czechoslovakia (and the Czechoslovak News Agency), at the moments of the Velvet Revolution, as well as at moments that were forbidden or unwanted, when photography and not only photography was manipulated. Last year we exhibited photographs of Olympic moments in many places around the country.
Even though this stage actually chronologically ends in 1993, from the last panels of the exhibition it becomes clear that the end of Czechoslovakia, the creation of the state border and the temporary crossings there did not, of course, terminate the mutual relations. That said, as you will see in one of the panels, teammates in sports, for example, necessarily became rivals. However, as far as I know, if Czechs cannot cheer for their hockey players, many quite naturally cheer for Slovaks.
The Czech News Agency has never stopped providing its services (textual, photographic and multimedia) to the Slovak media, for many years even in Slovak, which it was able to return to this year after several years thanks to a now high-quality machine translation. The Slovak news agency TASR in turn offers its photographs to Czech clients through Profimedia.cz, a company owned by CTK.
Our common history did not end with the collapse of Czechoslovakia. It is just written differently and by different people.
Jiří Majstr, Director General of ČTK
Společně poprvé / The First Time Together
The creation of an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks was made possible by the defeat of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the First World War (1914-1918) and the inability of Austrian ruling circles to resolve the long-standing national tensions in the monarchy. The activities of political representatives of Czechs and Slovaks in the resistance abroad and the military successes of the legions contributed significantly to the creation of Czechoslovakia.
President Masaryk (left) and Foreign Minister Beneš in Topolčianky in the autumn of 1928. Masaryk spent his holidays in Topolčianky every year and made no secret of the fact that he felt happiest in the local castle.
Slovak politician Milan Rastislav Štefánik (centre) with his friends Ludvík Štrimpel, a painter and legionnaire, and Ivan Markovič, a member of the National Assembly, in 1918
Bratislava, early 1919
After the creation of Czechoslovakia, the Hungarian and German inhabitants continued to resist the annexation of Pressburg, today's Bratislava. Czechoslovak troops occupied it on January 1,1919. Pictured here is a Czechoslovak patrol on the bridge connecting Bratislava with Petržalka.
Prešov, June 8, 1919
The attempt to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat in parts of eastern and southern Slovakia. The Slovak Republic of Councils was proclaimed under the protection of the Hungarian Red Army in Prešov on June 16, 1919 but ceased to exist at the beginning of July. Pictured here is the first armoured train of the Hungarian Red Army as it arrived in Prešov.
Největší Slovák / The Greatest Slovak
During the First World War, Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880-1919) was, together with Beneš and Masaryk, one of the main promoters of an independent state for Czechs and Slovaks. His contribution was his contacts with the French elite, which he built during his scientific and military career. With his charm, this eminent astronomer opened the door to the leading personalities of France, including Prime Minister Aristide Briand. Despite problems with his health, he was personally involved in the formation of the Czechoslovak legions, and as a diplomat he also quelled disputes between different groups of exiled leaders. After the war, his journey to his homeland proved fatal. An Italian biplane with Štefánik on board crashed near Bratislava on 4 May 1919. Whether it was pilot error, technical failure or an assassination, as some authors claim, one thing is certain: Štefánik did not survive the crash. His remains were placed in a cairn on Bradlo Hill.
Probably the most famous official image of the Czechoslovak Minister of War Milan Rastislav Štefánik. In 2019, Štefánik won the vote of Slovak television viewers in a poll “The Greatest Slovak”, which sought the most important personalities of Slovak history.
Milan Rastislav Štefánik in a plane on the French front in 1915.
The tomb of Milan Rastislav Štefánik at Bradl, pictured in 1989. The tomb was built between 1927 and 1928 according to the design of architect Dušan Jurkovič.
Nenaplněná autonomie / Autonomy Unfulfilled
Although the Cleveland Agreement of 1915 was based on a federal union between Czechs and Slovaks and the later Pittsburgh Agreement of 1918 guaranteed Slovakia at least its own administration, parliament, courts and Slovak as an official language, these promises were not fulfilled after the establishment of the common state. The question of autonomy thus became an important issue in Czech-Slovak relations during the First Republic.
The Provisional National Assembly, in which Slovaks were only marginally represented, agreed on the temporary need for a centralized government to ensure the stability of the new state. President Masaryk later claimed that the Pittsburgh Agreement was not legally binding. It was bitterly contested by the Slovak People's Party led by the Catholic priest Andrej Hlinka, the most popular politician in Slovakia during the First Republic. Autonomy was Hlinka's main political goal until his death in August 1938.
Bratislava, February 4, 1919
In December 1918, Vavro Šrobár was put in charge of the Ministry for the Administration of Slovakia. He moved his office to Bratislava on February 4, 1919. Pictured here is the tribune in front of the Bratislava theatre during the reading of the oath of office, Šrobár is on the right.
Milan Hodža (1878-1944), the first Slovak Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia (1935-1938), promoted the idea of cooperation and integration of European states, but it did not come to fruition until long after his death. He is pictured here speaking at a congress of the Czechoslovak rural republican youth in 1937.
Nitra, August 12, 1933
Andrej Hlinka (1864-1938) speaking at the celebrations of the 1100th anniversary of the consecration of the first Christian church in Central Europe.
Směr Slovensko / The Slovak Way
During the First Republic, the Slovak economy grew at a slower rate than the Czech economy. In Slovakia, mainly basic industry developed, and Czech investment was very selective there. The economic crisis of the 1930s hit Slovakia harder than the western half of the common state, and tens of thousands of Slovaks once again went to the United States in search of work. During the first decade of the common state, the number of Czechs in Slovakia steadily increased. However, only a small number of Slovaks headed in the opposite direction between the wars. The First Republic was also a period of building up Slovakia’s infrastructure; especially in the railway network.
Prague, July 13, 1936
Frantisek Pořádek, the engineer of the express train Slovak Arrow, pictured at the Wilson station after the train’s its first ride from Bratislava.
In this photograph from 1936, skiers admire the view of the Tri Kopy rock formation and the highest peak of the Rohace Mountains, Baníkov, on the main ridge of the Western Tatras.
Slovak herbalists in the center of Prague in a picture taken in 1936.
Se lvíčkem na prsou / With a Lion on Their Chests
While the Czechs were at the birth of the modern Olympics, from which they brought the first medals as early as 1900 under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Slovak top amateur sport developed slowly. The first Olympic medal did not come until 1936, when Trnava-born Jozef Herda won a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Berlin Olympics. However, he too did not take up the sport until he moved to Prague. Two years earlier, the Czechoslovak football team had won silver at the World Cup in Italy. There were only two Slovaks in the national team then - Štefan Čambal and Ferdinand Daučík. Both of them were key players of Slavia Prague club in the 1930s, and after the Second World War they took turns coaching the Czechoslovak national team.
Prague, May 10, 1934
Czechoslovak representative Ferdinand Daučík before leaving for the World Championship in Italy.
Turin, June 1934
Czechoslovak team training for the World Championships in Italy.
Prague, June 14, 1934
Arrival of Czechoslovak football players from Italy, where they finished second after losing to the home team in the final game. A crowd of 10,000 greeted the silver medalists at the Main Railway Station.
Česko-Slovensko / Czecho-Slovakia
The Munich Agreement, signed on the night of September 30, 1938 by representatives of Britain, France, Italy and Germany, marked the end of the First Republic. German troops entered the country, Czechoslovakia lost a large part of its territory, and the army was demobilized. In the immediate aftermath of Munich, the efforts of Slovak politicians for autonomy culminated in the so-called Žilina Agreement, which was proclaimed on October 6 and constitutionally confirmed at the end of November, when the name of the republic was changed to Czecho-Slovakia. The Second Republic came to an end on March 14, 1939 with the proclamation of an independent Slovak state on German bidding. The occupation of the rest of Bohemia and Moravia came a day later. On March 16 Adolf Hitler issued a decree establishing a protectorate there.
Velka Fatra, August 4, 1938
1938 was marked by the army's preparations for an attack from Germany, culminating in a general mobilization in Czechoslovakia on September 23. Exercise of mountain artillery on Veľká Fatra - ascent and descent to and from Choč peak.
Bratislava, September 8, 1938
Exercise of engineers and river battalion on the Danube.
Bratislava, January 18, 1939
Within the framework of autonomy, Slovakia also got its own legislative body, which was the Slovak Assembly. During its session, the commander of the Hlinka Guards, Karol Sidor, gave a parade of the troops.
January 2, 1939
At the turn of 1938 and 1939, President Emil Hácha went to Slovakia. In the picture he is in the first window of the carriage on the left, in the right window is Slovak Prime Minister Jozef Tiso.
Slovenský štát a protektorát / The Slovak State and the Protectorate
The occupation of the Czech lands and the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were preceded by the proclamation of the Slovak State, which was founded on the ruins of the Second Republic. The call for Slovak independence had already appeared in the autumn of 1938, when Slovakia gained autonomy. The ruling Hlinka Slovak People's Party (HSĽS), however, was divided on the issue. Hitler, for whom an independent Slovakia also represented a favorable space for expansion, therefore decided to negotiate. On March 13, 1939, he summoned the chairman of the HSĽS, Catholic priest Jozef Tiso, to Berlin, where he confronted him with a choice: either Slovakia would declare independence or be "left to its fate". In practice, this would have meant the division of territory between neighboring states, especially Hungary.
On March 14, 1939, following Tiso's return, the independence of Slovakia was declared, and it became a German satellite.
Germany, October 26, 1941
German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (left) greets Slovak President Jozef Tiso at the Führer's headquarters. Adolf Hitler (left) and Vojtěch Tuka are in the background.
Berlin, June 9, 1942
Adolf Hitler greets President Emil Hácha in Berlin in the presence of K.-H. Frank (performing the Nazi salute).
Třetí republika / The Third Republic
The first Czechoslovak post-war government was established on April 4, 1945. A day later the cabinet led by the Social Democrat Zdeněk Fierlinger presented its programme, the formulation of which already showed the strong influence of the Communist Party. In addition to emphasizing the alliance with the Soviet Union and the equal rights of the Czech and Slovak peoples, it spoke of nationalization or confiscation of the property of fascists, traitors and collaborators. Less than a year later, in January 1946, the government merely stood by and watched the loss of part of the republic's territory when Subcarpathian Ruthenia became part of the USSR.
Paris, August 5, 1946
Czechoslovak delegation at the Paris Peace Conference. From left: Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk and State Secretary Vlado Clementis.
Československý odboj / Czechoslovak Resistance
After the occupation, tens of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks joined the fighting on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition. Some went to Poland, some of them headed to France, where they first had to join the Foreign Legion. Only after the outbreak of the war, a Czechoslovak unit was formed there. After the surrender of France, most of them headed to Britain. The Czechs and Slovaks served in British uniforms in North Africa, where they made a name for themselves during the defense of Tobruk. Toward the end of the war, they besieged the northern French port of Dunkirk and a small unit also joined General Patton's troops in western Bohemia.
The same was true of the Czechoslovak airmen. Many joined the Polish army and experienced the invasion of Poland as pilots. They then moved mainly to France. However, following France’s surrender, they made their way by tortuous routes to Britain, where the exiled Czechoslovak troops gradually formed one bomber and three fighter squadrons within the RAF. The airmen took part in all major operations on the Western Front and also intervened in the Battle of Britain. Some 2,500 Czechoslovaks passed through the RAF, 531 of whom died in combat.
Although the majority of Czechoslovak soldiers on the Western Front were Czechs, the participation of Slovaks was not negligible. For example, in France in May 1940 they represented two-fifths of the men. Men of Slovak origin were less represented in the RAF, where they represented less than a fifth of the Czechoslovak squadron. However, Otto Smik was among the most successful Czechoslovak fighters. In May 1942, Czech Jan Kubiš and Slovak Jozef Gabčík jointly carried out the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, which was one of the greatest actions of the anti-Nazi resistance in Europe.
Czechoslovak troops on the Western Front during World War II - a parade of a squadron of Czechoslovak airmen with their machine.
Prague, May 27, 1942
The car of the acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich damaged by a bomb in Kichmayer Street in Holešovičky. Heydrich died of his wounds on June 4, 1942 at the Bulovka hospital.
Prague, June 1942
Military ID cards of Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík. Both men, together with five other paratroopers, died defending a hideout in the Orthodox Church of Cyril and Methodius in Prague. They all refused to surrender and some of them took their own lives in a hopeless situation after many hours of resistance.
August 31, 1944
Morning personal hygiene routine of Czechoslovak soldiers on a ship of the Western Front during World War II.
Ján Režňák (left) and Izidor Kovárik, the two greatest Slovak aces of the Slovak Air Force on the Eastern Front. Photo: Repro/Gonzo Aviation
Dukla / Dukla
Czechoslovak soldiers fought in the ranks of both the Western and Eastern Allies during World War II and it was on the Eastern Front that they experienced the fiercest fighting and suffered the heaviest casualties. Many of the men who later served in Czechoslovak units in the USSR first went through Soviet internment. Stalin agreed to the formation of the unit only after Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Czechs, Slovaks, and soldiers from Subcarpathian Ruthenia first joined the fight in March 1943 at Sokolovo. They also contributed to the liberation of Kiev six months later.
The Slovak National Uprising also helped in the fight against Germany. Although the armed uprising against the Germans and their domestic puppet regime, which broke out at the end of August 1944, ended in defeat, it succeeded in tying up some of the German forces that could not be deployed on the Eastern Front for several months. The uprising was intended to facilitate the advancing Red Army's crossing of the Carpathian Mountains, but this objective was not achieved.
On the contrary, the Soviet operation at Dukla Pass, which was supposed to help the uprising and lasted almost all of September and October 1944 and during which Soviet and Czechoslovak soldiers entered Czechoslovak territory for the first time on October 6, 1944, failed. Nevertheless, after the war Dukla became a symbol of heroism
Dukla Pass, October 1944
Czechoslovak soldiers building a new border pillar at Dukla Pass.
Dukla Pass, October 6, 1944
The 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps under General Ludvík Svoboda crosses the Dukla Pass and enters the territory of the Slovak State.
Slovak State, 1944
Major Alexei Semyonovich Yegorov (right), Soviet partisan commander in Slovakia with members of his staff Rshecky and Stroganov.
Starohorska Valley near Banská Bystrica, October 31, 1944
Destroyed tanks and military vehicles in the Starohorska Valley, which was one of the last escape routes for partisans and rebel soldiers during their retreat into the mountains after the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising.
Budování socialismu / Building Socialism
The communist takeover of Czechoslovakia was planned long before February 1948. Although the Communist Party led by Klement Gottwald dominated the 1946 elections, it was threatened with defeat in the next vote due two years later. The party prevented this by establishing a dictatorship. It sent tens of thousands of people to prison and forced labor camps. Hundreds of real and perceived opponents of the regime were killed. The new authorities resorted to large-scale nationalization, which affected even the smallest tradesmen. The nationalized economy was oriented towards heavy industry, not least in preparation for the expected conflict between the East and the West. The heroes of the new regime were the ironworkers and the miners.
Prague, February 29, 1948
Workers' militiamen march along Charles Bridge towards Old Town Square for a parade that was part of the campaign against the so-called "reactionary subversives".
Devičany, August 9, 1950
Co-operative peasants from the villages of Upper and Lower Devičany, Slovakia, demonstratively plow under the boundaries between different properties.
Prague, July 6, 1950
Future miners' apprentices from Slovakia at the Main Railway Station in Prague, where a meeting of miners' youth was held. Photo: ČTK/Josef Novák
Eastern Slovakia, July 1, 1952
A shot from the construction of the Družba (Friendship) railroad, described at the time as "the most important transport artery of the republic, which will connect us with the Soviet Union". Photo: ČTK/Jan Tachezy
Anděl na horách / Angel in the Mountains
After taking power in February 1948, the Communist Party began to favor the peasants and especially the workers, who, together with the so-called working intelligentsia, formed the basic social groups of the new regimes. Proclamations about the importance of physical labor were accompanied by benefits for workers. These were not just financial - mass vacations became a normal part of life from the 1950s onwards. They even became a topic for popular movies such as Angel in the Mountains and Vacationing with Angel about a grumpy ticket inspector.
Prague, Ruzyně Airport, January 17, 1950
Czechoslovak Airlines aircraft were deployed on a new route to the High Tatras. According to PR text at the time, the national carrier "tried to make the fastest transport available to all working people so that they can make the most of their free time for recuperation and rest". Photo: ČTK/Josef Mucha
Štrbské Pleso, January 17, 1950
A trip on a horse-drawn sleigh was one of the best experiences for holidaymakers in the High Tatras. Photo: ČTK/Josef Mucha
Poprad, January 17, 1950
A bus takes holidaymakers from Poprad airport to hotes in the High Tatras. Photo: ČTK/Josef Mucha
Malá Studená dolina (High Tatras), February 1, 1967
Transport of the victims of an avalanche incident in which a group of seven climbers and tourists from Slavoj Turnov died. Photo: ČTK/Květoslav Urbanovič
Made in Czechoslovakia
After February 1948, the Communists continued with the nationalization that had already begun shortly after the end of the Second World War with banks, insurance companies, mines and larger industrial enterprises ending up in the hands of the state. Two-thirds of Czechoslovak industry was affected in the first wave; the Communists, who targeted even the smallest tradesmen, nationalized the rest. By the early 1960s, the private sector was almost non-existent in Czechoslovakia, including in agriculture, which had been affected by collectivization. Collective farms and state farms farmed more than 80 percent of the land, following the example of the Soviet kolkhozes.
Šahy, July 21, 1952
Drying of the first tobacco harvest on state property in Šahy near the border with Hungary.
Trnava, May 6, 1954
Production of Perobot washing machines in the Kovosmalt company in Trnava. The new washing machine with a centrifuge was able to wash 1.5 kilograms of dry laundry. Foto: ČTK/TASR/Jožo Teslik
Nové Zámky, July 23, 1959
Refrigerators from Elektrosvit Nové Zámky, which, in addition to the domestic market, were also sold abroad. The first refrigerators had a volume of 40 liters. Foto: ČTK/TASR/Viliam Přibyl
Nižná nad Oravou, November 9, 1959
The Tesla Orava plant produced 50,000 television sets on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The new Devín TV set was mass-produced for the pre-Christmas market. Foto: ČTK/TASR/František Kocián
Považská Bystrica, April 19, 1960
Production of popular small motorcycles Pionýr at the Klement Gottwald Plant. Foto: ČTK/TASR/Štefan Petráš
Hlohovec, March 12, 1958
Protective ointments Indulona were produced in Slovakofarma Hlohovoc in ten varieties. Each served to protect against a specific substance - for example, various chemicals, acids, heavy metal solutions, alkaline soils, tar or asphalt. Foto ČTK/TASR/Stanislav Roller
Československá nová vlna / The Czechoslovak New Wave
Cinematography was nationalized in Czechoslovakia as early as 1945. Films made under state supervision thus played an important role in the following decades. First as a propaganda tool, but then, in times of political relaxation, they became proof that Czech and Slovak art had something to say in the world. The Slovak duo Jan Kadár and Elmar Klos won the first Oscar for the country with The Shop on Main Street in 1965. In 1968, Czech Jiří Menzel won another Academy Award for best foreign language movie with Closely Watched Trains. However, many other Czechoslovak filmmakers, including Věra Chytilová, Juraj Jakubisko, Evald Schorm and Jan Němec, made their mark in the 1960s in what is known to this day as the Czechoslovak New Wave.
October 8, 1965
Poster for the film The Shop on Main Street Photo: Mary Evans/AF Archive
Santa Monica (USA), April 18, 1966
American film actor Gregory Peck (right) presents director Ján Kádár with an Oscar for his film The Shop on Main Street.
Santa Monica (USA), April 12, 1968
Film comedian Danny Kaye (right) presents director Jiri Menzel with an Oscar statuette for Closely Watched Trains.
Actors Václav Neckář and Jitka Zelenohorská during the filming of Closely Watched Trains. Photo: Barrandov Film Studio/Profimedia
Góly - body - sekundy / Goals - Points - Seconds
The first two post-war decades gave birth to the greatest stars of the Czechoslovak national sports team of all time. Legendary runner Emil Zátopek won four Olympic gold medals in 1948 and 1952, and seven-time Olympic gymnastics queen Věra Čáslavská became a global star in the 1960s. Boxers Július Torma and Ján Zachara brought the first Olympic gold for Slovak sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Czechoslovak hockey and football players also achieved success. The composition of the national football team, which brought silver medals from the 1962 World Cup, was “exemplarily Czechoslovak”. Besides Svatopluk Pluskal, Tomáš Pospíchal and Andrej Kvašňák, the shining stars of the world title runner-ups team were Czech Josef Masopust and Slovak Ján Popluhár. At the end of the millennium, they were both proclaimed footballers of the century in their now independent countries.
Prague, May 13, 1952
Radio reporters Josef Laufer (kneeling on the right) and Gabo Zelenay (on the left) await the arrival of the peloton in one of the stages of the Warsaw-Berlin-Prague multiple stage bicycle Peace Race at the stadium in Prague.
Santiago de Chile, June 17, 1962
Defender Ján Popluhár (left) tries to stop Brazilian Garrincha in the World Cup final with Josef Masopust on the right. While midfielder Masopust won the Golden Ball for the best European footballer of the year in the same year, Popluhár was named the first Czechoslovak footballer of the year in 1965. Photo: imago sportfotodienst
Czechoslovak national ice hockey team (from left) František Ševčík, Jozef Golonka and Jaroslav Jiřík. In 1965 and 1966, only the representatives of the Soviet Union, with whom the Czechoslovak team fought legendary duels, were better than the Czechoslovaks at the World Championship. Golonka, nicknamed Gillete, was a long-time captain of the national team and Slovan Bratislava, and was also known as a tireless fighter and entertainer. Photo: Zdeněk Havelka
Prague, January 19, 1968
Figure skater Hana Mašková, who together with Věra Čáslavská was a sporting idol of the 1960s, and Ondrej Nepela in the Prague Sports Hall during their preparation for the Grenoble Olympics. Mašková won bronze there, while the 17-year-old Nepela finished eighth. Four years later at the Olympic Games in Sapporo, the Bratislava native won gold. Photo: Zdeněk Havelka
Slovenský symbol Pražského jara / The Slovak Symbol of the Prague Spring
In 1968, Slovak Alexander Dubček became the embodiment of the attempt to reform the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. His smiling face inspired people to hope for change for the better. However, the Prague Spring was silenced by the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies and Dubček found himself out of favor. He did not re-emerge on the scene until after November 1989. He aspired to the presidency, but Václav Havel was elected and Dubček became head of parliament. He was later considered as the likely first president of an independent Slovakia, but he died shortly before its creation - in autumn 1992 he succumbed to injuries sustained in a car accident.
Santovka (Levice district), June 16, 1968
A photograph of Alexander Dubček jumping from a diving tower at the swimming pool at the beginning of the summer of 1968 achieved international fame. The picture illustrated his attempt at "socialism with a human face"; the top party official was suddenly no longer the untouchable "party fat cat" but "a man of flesh and blood". Ján Füle, the son of the author of the photograph, who was at the swimming pool as a five-year-old boy, rejects speculation that the picture was staged. According to him, Dubček appeared unexpectedly at the pool in a swimsuit and the photograph was taken by accident. "My father was the head of the Czechoslovak News Agency branch in Banská Bystrica. He knew how to take photos and grew up in Nové Zámky, so he also knew Hungarian. That's why they sent him to the festivities in Želiezovice. And because it was a weekend, he took his family with him and we went swimming to Santovka. There he met Alexander Dubček, who also attended the festivities and likewise came for a swim. Those were the times," said Füle Jr. If the photo had been commissioned, he said, the Czechoslovak News Agency would certainly have sent a professional photographer from Bratislava with the appropriate equipment. His father, who took the photos with an amateur device of East German origin, blamed himself for "not having time to change the exposure, as he took the photos at 125/s, but should have used 250/s instead". The photo of Dubček jumping into the water is thus slightly out of focus. Photo: Ľudovít Füle/ČTK/TASR
Horké léto 1968 / The Hot Summer of ‘68
The Prague Spring of 1968 was the culmination of social developments of the 1960s and was also related to the economic crisis and international detente. In the ruling Communist Party, a more moderate wing was becoming increasingly vocal. At the beginning of the year, Antonín Novotný was replaced by the charismatic Slovak Alexander Dubček, who quickly gained popularity. But even cautious reforms were getting out of hand for the Communist Party leadership, which in turn provoked opposition from domestic conservatives and the Kremlin. Pressure on the reformists mounted, culminating in the Czechoslovak-Soviet negotiations at a four-day meeting in Čierna nad Tisou in late July and early August. But the talks, where the Communist Party leadership went with the support of the majority of the people, led to nothing. Less than three weeks later, Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia and the attempt at "socialism with a human face" was over.
Bradlo Hill, May 5, 1968
The political relaxation brought about by the Prague Spring became an opportunity to commemorate Milan Rastislav Štefánik, whose contribution to the creation of Czechoslovakia had been neglected by the communist regime. Thousands of people from all over Slovakia and Moravia attended the pilgrimage on the 49th anniversary of his tragic death. Photo: Jozef Smolka/ČTK/TASR
Čierna nad Tisou, July 31, 1968
Residents of Čierna nad Tisou greet the first secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), Alexander Dubček, during a meeting of the Czechoslovak and Soviet delegations from July 29 to August 1, 1968. Photo: Jiří Finda
Prague, August 21, 1968
Prague residents watch the arrival of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact occupation troops. Photo: Jaromír Čejka
Prague, September 19, 1968
Alexander Dubček meeting Olympic athletes after their return from the Summer Games in Mexico. On the left is the Olympic champion in diving Milena Duchková, who emigrated to Canada during the so-called normalization era, in the middle is the most successful Czechoslovak Olympian of all time, gymnast Věra Čáslavská, who in 1968 on the podium with the Soviet team impressed the world with her symbolic protest against the occupation. Along with them, Dubček also met Emil Zátopek and his wife Dana, who had been guests in Mexico as Olympic legends. Photo: Jiří Rublič
Federace a normalizace / The Federation and Normalization
One of the few achievements of the Prague Spring of 1968, which lasted beyond the onset of the normalization regime, was the constitutional law on the federal organization of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (the country was given the appellation "socialist" with the 1960 constitution). The National Assembly approved the law on October 27, 1968 and it came into force on January 1, 1969. The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic became a federal state of two equal nations, the Czechs and Slovaks, consisting of two sovereign republics: the Czech and Slovak Socialist Republics. Each had its own legislature and government; there was also a federal parliament and a federal government. The term "normalization" became synonymous with the Czechoslovak communist regime of the 1970s and 1980s, which was sharply opposed to the 1968 Prague Spring liberalization. The basis for the new order - more liberal than in the 1950s, but still highly repressive - was a document called Lessons from the Crisis Development in the Party and Society, which the communist party leadership adopted at the end of 1970.
Moscow, June 1969
The head of the Czechoslovak delegation Gustáv Husák talking to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev before his flight to Prague at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. Photo: CTK/Jovan Dezort
Prague, March 27, 1971
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Gustáv Husák speaking at a conference of communists of Prague’s first district. Photo: ČTK/Karel Mevald
Prague, September 11, 1969
Construction of the Federal Parliament building - the Federal Assembly. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the building housed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is now part of the National Museum. Photo: ČTK/Alexandr Hampl
Bratislava, October 30, 1968
President Ludvík Svoboda signs the constitutional law on the Czechoslovak federation at Bratislava Castle. Photo: ČTK/Miroslav Vojtek
Husákovy děti / Husák’s Children
The 1970s and to a lesser extent the 1980s were marked by population boom in Czechoslovakia, the causes of which are still disputed. People born during this period have come to be known as "Husák's children". They were born at a time when Gustáv Husák, the head of the Communist Party and later president, ruled the country. During his rule, young families were able to obtain marriage loans, child allowances were increased, and the number of new apartments grew significantly - but not sufficiently.
Prague, July 12, 1976
The first tenants move into new apartments in Prague's largest housing estate, Jižní Město. Photo: ČTK/Jaroslav Sýbek
Prague, April 1, 1980
New nursery and playground in the Jižní Město housing estate Photo: ČTK/Zuzana Humpálová
Bratislava, May 6, 1984
The SNP bridge over the Danube, with the Petržalka housing estate in the background. Photo: ČTK/Karel Vlček
České Budějovice, April 1, 1985
Children at the Vltava housing estate in České Budějovice Photo: ČTK/Jaroslav Sýbek
Mistři a majstri / The Champions
Four world championship titles in hockey, the European Champions Cup in football, and winning the football tournament at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. All this was a delight for the Czechs and Slovaks during the political normalization era. Czechoslovak athletes also won countless medals in individual sports, including athletics, and they also exceled in tennis. Some athletes decided to emigrate during sporting events in the West. Winning the title of European football champions in 1976 in Belgrade was a bombshell. The Czechoslovaks, led by the coaching tandem of Václav Ježek - Jozef Vengloš, defeated West Germany in a penalty shootout in the final game with the decisive penalty by Antonín Panenka. Czechoslovakia also won the World Ice Hockey Championship three times in the 1970s and added a "home" title in Prague in 1985.
Basel, May 21, 1969
The only Czechoslovak team to win a European club football trophy is Slovan Bratislava. In 1969, they beat the star-studded FC Barcelona 3-2 in the Cup Winners' Cup final, becoming the first club from Eastern Europe to win a European Cup. Slovan captain Alexander Horváth is pictured.
Štrbské Pleso, February 1, 1970
The judges' tower in the ski jumping area of the World Ski Championships; modern facilities were built in the High Tatras for the championships. Photo: Jiří Kruliš
Katowice, April 1, 1976
Goalkeepers Vladimir (Vlado) Dzurilla and Jiří Holeček with the World and European Hockey Champions Cups. Photo: Zdeněk Havelka
Belgrade, June 20, 1976
Antonín Panenka shoots the decisive penalty in the European Championship final. West German goalkeeper Sepp Maier, left. The match between Czechoslovakia and Germany ended in a 2:2 draw in normal time. Czechoslovakia won on penalties 5:3. Photo: DPA/Karl Schnurrer
Slavíci a lyra / The Golden Nightingales
Popular music had its Slovak and Czech stars whose fame was certainly not limited by the Morava River separating the two parts of federation. Slovak bands such as Elán, Lojzo and Tublatanka were extremely popular with the Czech public, while Helena Vondráčková, Hana Zagorova, Olympic and, of course, Karel Gott often came to Slovakia to perform. Gott held the record in the number of victories in the popular Golden Nightingale (Zlatý slavík) poll, which he had repeatedly won since the 1960s. However, he had to bow to the Slovak Miroslav "Meky" Žbirka, a singer a generation younger than him, in 1982. Žbirka was one of many artists from Slovakia who moved to Prague. The reverse journey was rare, although some Czech performers, including Gott, sang in Slovak. His song Mám rozprávkový dom won the first edition of the Bratislava Lyra Festival in 1966, which was one of the few occasions where Czechoslovaks could see foreign stars, such as the Beach Boys, live.
Bratislava, July 1969
Karel Gott sings the song Hej páni konšelé at the Bratislava Lyra Festival, which won the bronze prize. Photo: Alexandr Janovský
Sokolov, February 11, 1988
Miroslav Žbirka performing at the Festival of Political Song, author unknown
První v kosmu a první na Everestu / In Space and on Mount Everest
At the end of the 1970s, Czechoslovakia became only the third country in the world, after the Soviet Union and the USA, whose citizens had gone into space. In March 1978, military pilot Vladimír Remek, along with Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Gubarov, formed the crew of the Soyuz 28 spacecraft.
Six and a half years after Remek, two Slovaks became the first Czechoslovaks to get as close to space as possible when they conquered Mount Everest. Jozef Psotka, 50, and Zoltán Demján, 21 years his junior, climbed the world's highest peak without using oxygen. At the time, Psotka was the oldest person ever to undertake such a trek. But the climbers' expedition ended in tragedy. During their descent they got separated due to bad weather and while Demján reached the camp, Psotka died on the way down. The first Czech to climb Mount Everest was Leopold Sulovský in 1991.
USSR, Baikonur Cosmodrome, March 2, 1978
Vladimir Remek and Alexei Gubarev board the Soyuz 28 spacecraft. Photo. ČTK/Karel Mevald
Himalaya, October 15, 1984
Zoltán Demján with Jozef Psotka on the summit of Mount Everest at 8,848 metres above sea level. Photo: TASR/ČSTK/Zoltán Demján
Tak přísahám! / I solemnly swear!
The Czechoslovak army was based on compulsory military service, which the majority of the male population underwent. Over the years, not only the number of conscripts or the length of basic service changed, but so did the status of the military in the eyes of the public. After the First World War, the army became one of the carriers of the ethos of Masaryk's Czechoslovakia thanks in part to the exploits of the Czechoslovak Legions. However, the army later lost its former prestige and the majority of the population saw it as just another tool of oppression after the communist coup in 1948 and especially after the Soviet occupation in August 1968.
Communist Czechoslovakia, unspecified location, 1984
Soldiers of the Czechoslovak People's Army cross a watercourse as part of a Warsaw Pact exercise called Shield 84 at an unspecified location.
Prague, June 1985
Czechoslovak soldiers during a mass gymnastics event called Spartakiad at Prague's Strahov Stadium.
Tatramatky a první reaktory / Washing Machines and Nuclear Reactors
In the 1960s, the Czechoslovak economy was still able to compete with the West, but in the following decade it was clear that the centrally controlled economy was falling behind. Nevertheless, the Czechs and Slovaks could enjoy progress, but they often owed their new technology to foreign licenses. For example, the automatic washing machine Tatramat from Poprad was made possible by an agreement with the French brand Viva. Licenses were used elsewhere - in 1971, the Brno-based Fruta began bottling Coca-Cola, and two years later Slovlik Malacky began supplying Pepsi-Cola to shops.
At that time, the first Czechoslovak nuclear power plant in Jaslovské Bohunice, which was built with the significant contribution of domestic designers, also began to operate. The reactor was to use unenriched uranium from Czech mines, but the inexperience of the Czechoslovak and Soviet designers, accompanied by shenanigans during operation, led to two serious accidents and the shutdown of the unit in 1977. Other nuclear power plants at Jaslovské Bohunice and Dukovany were built according to Soviet designs.
Jaslovské Bohunice, 1993
View of the nuclear power plant, in the foreground the statue of St. John of Nepomuk Photo: CTK
Poprad, March 9, 1976
Assembly of Tatramat washing machines in the largest Czechoslovak plant for the production of automatic washing machines Photo: TASR/ČSTK/A. Haščák
Liptovský Hrádok, December 21, 1970
The new telephone set As 20, designed by architect Jaroslav Kotás. Photo: TASR/ČSTK/J. Valko
Súľov, October 18, 1972
A new collection of skis from the Drevoindustrie in Súľov, which also produced sledges and hockey sticks. The Súľov brand lost its prestige during the economic transformation after the Velvet Revolution but was revived in 2008. Photo: TASR/ČSTK/M. Vojtek
Nitra, September 30, 1982
Production of the soft drink Vinea at the Nitra Winery. The drink became very popular throughout Czechoslovakia. Photo: TASR/ČSTK
Barrandovské hvězdy / The Barrandov Stars
During the normalization, the more liberal atmosphere in Bratislava often allowed people who were banned in Prague to work there. Slovak artists who took advantage of the artistic opportunities at the Prague Barrandov studios traveled in the opposite direction. The successful Czech films of the 1970s and 1980s cannot be imagined without the faces of Slovaks Magda Vášáryová, Michal Dočolomanský, Milan Lasica, Július Satinský or Marián Labuda. The Czechs were also fond of Slovak TV Mondays, which featured productions from Bratislava.
Prague, July 1, 1982
Dana Medřická as Doctor Fastová and Ladislav Chudík as Chief Sova in the TV series Hospital on the Edge of Town.
Magda Vášáryová as Mrs. Sládková in the film Cutting it Short, based on the novel by Bohumil Hrabal and directed by Jiří Menzel. Photo: Barrandov Film Studio/AFP/Profimedia
Prague, June 22, 1977
Rudolf Hrušínský (left) as Commissar Ledvina and Michal Dočolomanský as Nick Carter during the filming of Oldřich Lipsky's Adela Has Not Had Her Supper Yet Photo: Profimedia/Czech Editorial Photography/Jan Kuděla
Josef Abrhám (left) as Prince Alexej Nikolajevič Megalrogov and Marián Labuda as the big landowner Josef Stoklasa in the film The End of Old Times, based on the novel by Vladislav Vančur and directed by Jiří Menzel. Photo: Profimedia
From left: Milan Lasica, Miroslav Horníček and Július Satinský Photo: Profimedia/Czech Editorial Photography/Jaroslav Skála
Sametová a něžná / Velvet and Gentle
In the late 1980s, Czechoslovakia was hit by a ripple of political relaxation, but it was weaker compared to other Soviet satellites. The communist regime fell only in the last weeks of 1989 as one of the last in Europe. However, opposition demonstrations had already been growing in the preceding years, among the first being the "candle rally" of the faithful in Bratislava in March 1988. The police cracked down on the demonstration, as well as on the protests in Prague in August 1988 and 1989 and in January 1989. It was at the end of this year, when Czechoslovakia finally experienced a non-violent revolution. It was called Velvet in Czech and Gentle in Slovak - maybe a foreshadowing of bigger and more important differences that led to the dissolution of the common state.
Prague, November 24, 1989
Václav Havel with Alexander Dubček, who made his first appearance in Prague in front of a packed Wenceslas Square. Dubček received a huge applause from the crowd of more than 100,000.
Prague, November 26, 1989
Alexander Dubček greets participants at a demonstration on Letná Plain, where more than half a million people from all over the country had gathered.
Bratislava, November 27, 1989
Demonstration on SNP Square during the general strike Photo: ČTK/Ivan Rychlo
Prague, December 6, 1989
Negotiations between the chairman of the CSSD government Ladislav Adamec (left, together with Marián Čalfa) and a delegation of the Civic Forum and Public Against Violence led by Václav Havel. Also pictured on the right are Ján Budaj, Milan Kňažko, Ján Čarnogurský, Michael Kocáb and Jiří Křižan, with Vladimír Hanzel standing behind them. Photo: ČTK/Petr Matička
Havel a/nebo Dubček / Havel and/or Dubček
During the Velvet Revolution at the end of 1989, it was necessary to reach an agreement on top political positions. On December 10, Marián Čalfa, a former minister of the communist government, became prime minister of the "government of national understanding". There were more candidates for the presidency. For example, the names of the former communist prime minister Ladislav Adamec or figures known from the Prague Spring of 1968 were floated, particularly the former leader of Communist party Alexander Dubček who only returned to the political limelight after November 17,1989. His candidacy was helped in particular by the fact that, even after many years had passed, he enjoyed the sympathy of a significant part of the (mainly Slovak) public. However, Havel, a former dissident and the most famous face of the Velvet Revolution, also ran for the top state post. In the end, Havel became the president, much to Dubček’s dismay.
Prague, November 26, 1989
Alexander Dubček and Václav Havel in the stands of Prague's Sparta stadium, from where they addressed a crowd of half a million demonstrators on Letná Plain.
Pomlčková válka / The Hyphen War
After the collapse of the communist regime in November 1989, the status of Slovakia in Czechoslovakia came back into focus. There were intensifying calls from Bratislava demanding some degree of sovereignty. The "hyphen war" was the unintended outcome of President Václav Havel's proposal to drop the word "socialist" from the country's name. The Slovaks wanted the new name of the state to include a hyphen to emphasize their statehood. The result was a compromise - the new name of the state, The Czechoslovak Federative Republic, did not have the hyphen in the Czech version. However, it did in Slovak: The Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic.
Bratislava, March 14, 1991
President Václav Havel tries to get into his car with the help of security guards to leave SNP Square, where he faces a crowd of Slovak nationalists. Photo: ČTK/Tomáš Novák
Bratislava, October 28, 1991
President Václav Havel watches with concern as Slovak nationalists disrupt a rally to mark the 72nd anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. The demonstrators threw eggs at the President, but none hit him. Photo: ČTK/Stanislav Peška
Bratislava, October 28 1991
Demonstrators demanding an independent Slovakia at a rally marking the anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia Photo: ČTK/Stanislav Peška
Na cestě k rozpadu / The Road to Dissolution
The last parliamentary elections in the history of Czechoslovakia were held in early June 1992, when the break-up of the federation was already "in the air". The results of the vote only confirmed that. In the Czech part of the country, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) led by Václav Klaus clearly won. In Slovakia, Vladimir Mečiar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) won and advocated for the independence of the republic. Shortly after the election, Klaus together with Mečiar began to address the fate of the common state. Then in August 1992, they announced that the common state would be dissolved at the end of the year.
Bratislava, March 14, 1991
A gathering entitled National celebrations of the 52nd anniversary of the proclamation of the independent and separate Slovak Republic on SNP Square. It commemorated the proclamation of the Slovak State, which had been a satellite of Nazi Germany. Photo: ČTK/Tomáš Novák
Bratislava, June 13, 1992
From left, HZDS deputy chairmen Milan Kňažko and Michal Kováč and HZDS chairman Vladimír Mečiar after a party leadership meeting following the elections in which their movement won. The meeting was held behind closed doors, but CTK found out that Mečiar mentioned the possibility of two separate states. Mečiar objected to the report at the time. Photo: ČTK/Neubauer
Prague, July 19, 1992
Czechoslovak President Václav Havel returns to his apartment on the Rašín embankment, a day before he resigns from office. Photo: ČTK / Stanislav Peška
Klaus a Mečiar / Klaus and Mečiar
Brno's functionalist Villa Tugendhat is intrinsically linked to the negotiations on the division of Czechoslovakia, which were led by Vladimír Mečiar and Václav Klaus after the elections in June 1992. The first time they met in the house designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the late 1920s was one week after the vote. This meeting made it clear that the period of protracted discussions between the political representatives of the two republics, which had lasted practically since the fall of communism, was over. The definitive end of Czechoslovak history began to be written on August 26,1992, when Klaus and Mečiar met at Villa Tugendhat for the second time. On a hot day - the temperatures were over 30 degrees Celsius - they held talks from 3 pm, first inside, then out in the garden, where a few photographers managed to capture the two politicians looking relaxed, sitting on chairs beneath a tree. The result was clear shortly before midnight when the Slovak prime minister told journalists that two separate states, the Czech and Slovak Republics, would be established on January 1, 1993.
Brno, August 26, 1992
The chairman of the HZDS and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar negotiates in the garden of Brno's Villa Tugendhat with Czech Prime Minister and ODS chairman Václav Klaus about the division of the federation. Photo: Peter Brenkus
Brno, June 30, 2022
The main actors of the division of Czechoslovakia, Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar, before live broadcast of the Slovak RTVS debate from Villa Tugendhat on the 30th anniversary of the division. The author of the picture is Igor Zehl, a Brno-based photographer for ČTK, who was among a handful of photographers who managed to take pictures of Klaus and Mečiar in the garden of the villa during the 1992 negotiations. Photo: Igor Zehl
Radost i smutek / Joy and sorrow
On the last day of 1992, after 74 years of existence and a rich history, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. Two new states appeared on the map: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The new neighbors had to deal with a number of practical problems, from building border crossings, dividing property, and citizenship to pensions. People living in both countries had to choose their citizenship; eligibility was determined not only by current permanent residence, but also by one’s place of birth or parents' citizenship. Over the years, opinion on the break-up of the federation has changed slightly. Initially, it was perceived much more positively in Slovakia. Recently, however, opinions have been converging; for example, in 2017, two-fifths of both Czechs and Slovaks viewed the break-up of Czechoslovakia positively.
Bratislava, January 1, 1993
Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar during the celebrations of the establishment of the independent Slovak Republic on SNP Square in Bratislava. Photo: ČTK/Jana Košnárová
Bratislava, January 1, 1993
Slovaks celebrate the establishment of an independent state on SNP Square after midnight on New Year's Eve. Photo: ČTK/Jana Košnárová
Prague, January 1, 1993
The upper part of Wenceslas Square with the National Museum building during the first hours of the independent Czech Republic. Photo: ČTK/Stanislav Peška
Nové hranice / New borders
The border between today's Czech and Slovak Republics was established long before the collapse of Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless, the establishment of two independent countries brought disputes because in the times of the common state the "line on the map" was not considered and people bought houses or cottages "on the neighbors’ side ". For example, the settlement of Sidonie was located on both sides of the border formed by the Vlárka river, while people from the Moravian settlement of U Sabotů went to school or to the doctor in Slovakia.
In this case, both countries agreed to exchange territories, unlike the recreational area of Kasárna in Javorník, which remained in Slovakia. But there were many more border changes, the main part of which was agreed by the summer of 1997. Among other things, the border in the lower part of the Morava River has been straightened, so that it now runs through the centre of the regulated channel, rather than where the flow originally meandered through the landscape.
Bílá, January 29, 1993
Czech holidaymakers with sledges in the border settlement Konečná at the crossing Bílá - Klokočov in the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains. Photo: ČTK/Petr Berger
Dvě koruny / Two Crowns
The common Czechoslovak currency “koruna” (the crown) survived the establishment of two independent republics, but only by less than six weeks. The monetary separation was already discussed in expert circles at the end of 1992, but the end of the Czech-Slovak monetary union came on February 8, 1993, when the Czech koruna (CZK) and the Slovak koruna (SKK) were created. To distinguish cash, both countries resorted to stamping banknotes. This problem was not solved for coins (the highest value coin was the metal ten-crown with rather limited circulation).
The first new banknote was the Czech two hundred crown note issued on February 8. Slovakia did not get its own paper money until August 1993, when a fifty-crown note depicting apostles Cyril and Methodius was put into circulation. At that time, the Czech Republic was already withdrawing the last stamped banknotes from circulation, while the Slovaks were still using some of them in early 1994.
Prague, January 22, 1993
Employees of Komerční banka mark federal banknotes in the denomination of CZK 100 with the stamp of the Czech state after the division of Czechoslovakia. Photo: ČTK/Tomáš Novák
Bratislava, January 23, 1992
Bratislava residents wait in line to exchange federal Czechoslovak money for stamped Czechoslovak money. Photo: ČTK/Jana Košnárová
Ze spoluhráčů soupeři / From Teammates to Rivals
The former members of the national teams became rivals after 1992. It happened almost instantly in individual sports. The situation with the most popular team sport - football - was different. The Czechoslovak national team was in the middle of World Cup qualification and had to finish it. Its swan song thus sounded on November 17, 1993, when the team drew with Belgium and lost the chance to qualify for the World Cup. Thirty years after the split, the Czechs still have the upper hand in sport, as evidenced by the greater number of medals from top events, led by the Olympic Games, and the number of famous names. However the Slovaks, whose population is half that of the Czech Republic, also boast a number of athletes who have made it big on a global scale.
Prague, September 2 1992
Defender Miroslav Kadlec celebrates with Jiri Nemec (right) and Lubomir Moravcik after scoring a goal against Belgium in the World Cup qualifier. It was one of the last matches of the joint national team. Four years later, Kadlec led the underrated Czech national team as a captain to silver medals at the UEFA Euro in England. Photo: Jaroslav Hejzlar, Michal Doležal
Beijing, August 15, 2008
Slovak brothers Pavol and Peter Hochschorner accept congratulations on winning Olympic gold from Czech canoeists Jaroslav Volf and Ondřej Štěpánek who finished second. Water slalom is a sport where both nations are among the world's best. Since the establishment of the independent republics, Czech and Slovak paddlers have won medals at all Summer Olympics. Photo: ČTK/Roman Vondrouš
Bratislava, May 6, 2011
Fans before the round of 16 match of the World Ice Hockey Championships between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech team beat the home team 3:2. The Czechs won bronze medals at the championship, while the Slovaks finished without a medal in their debut as hosts of the World Championship. A year later, they won silver and for the first time did better than the Czech team, which was third again. Photo: ČTK/Jan Koller
Vlastní cestou / On Their Own
The Czechs and Slovaks have never quite parted ways after the collapse of their common state; the two countries remain the closest partners. Ever since Václav Havel, the first foreign visit of Czech presidents was always to Slovakia. Havel and his successor Václav Klaus also made their last foreign trip there. Slovak presidents, from Michal Kováč to Zuzana Čaputová, have a similar habit. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are now members of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
But there are significant differences between the two countries, which have been independent for 30 years now. For example, the Slovaks have already had a female prime minister - Iveta Radičová from 2010 to 2012 - and Zuzana Čaputová has been in office in the Presidential Palace in Bratislava since June 2019. In the Czech Republic, unlike in Slovakia, female politicians have headed both houses of parliament. And last but not least, while Czechs still pay with the koruna, Slovaks have had euros in their wallets since 2009.
Úpice, May 24, 2003
Czech Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla and his Slovak counterpart Mikuláš Dzurinda at the finish line of the ten-kilometre race in Úpice, Trutnov region. The two Prime Ministers shared a passion for running, and they attended several events together in their running shoes. Photo: ČTK/Alexandra Mlejnková
Bratislava, May 4, 2009
A memorial to Milan Rastislav Štefánik unveiled in front of the Slovak National Theatre on the 90th anniversary of his death. The larger-than-life statue has become part of the memorial to Czechoslovak statehood.
Prague, October 22, 2017
Businessman Andrej Babiš became the first Czech prime minister with Slovak roots in 2017. He is pictured here before a meeting with representatives of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) about the arrangement after the election, which was won by his ANO movement. Photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl
Prague, June 20, 2019
Zuzana Čaputová, like her predecessors, went to Prague on her first foreign trip after assuming the Slovak presidency. Here, she is pictured at the statue of Milan Rastislav Štefánik at Petřín. Photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl
Kultura bez hranic / Culture Without Borders
Neither the new border nor the need to present a passport when traveling from Prague to Bratislava or from Brno to Košice interrupted the contact between the two countries after they separated. Even after January 1993, Czech bands and singers have continued to tour Slovakia and Slovak bands continued to tour Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, and Slovak radio stations have continued to play Czech songs and vice versa. The cooperation of Czech and Slovak filmmakers and television stations is also noticeable. Slovak actors and actresses still appear in Czech films, and Czechs and Slovaks are also seen together on the theater stage. Similarly to the federal times, Czech culture is more present in Slovakia. Thanks to this, the younger generation of Slovaks understands the Czech language, while Czech children often perceive Slovak as a foreign language. But this is changing, not only thanks to cross-border TV projects such as the competitions Czech-Slovak SuperStar or Czech-Slovakia's Got Talent, but also thanks to popular Slovak YouTubers.
Emília Vášáryová as a mother in the film Pelíšky. Pictured with her film husband played by Jiří Kodet and their daughter played by Kristýna Nováková. Photo: ČT/TotalHelpArt/Profimedia
Prague, April 13, 2015
The beginning of the shooting of a film about the First Republic star of the silver screen Lída Baarová, played by Táňa Pauhofová (third from left). Also pictured are, from left, Anna Fialová, Martin Huba, to the right of Pauhofová, Fawad Nadri, Pavel, Kříž, Simona Stašová and Karl Markovicz. Photo: ČTK/Roman Vondrouš
Prague, March 4, 2020
Febiofest president Fero Fenič at a press conference for the 27th edition of the film festival Photo: ČTK/Michaela Říhová
Prague, November 17, 2021
Slovak singer Jana Kirschner sings the song 'Prayer for Marta' on Národní třída on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek
Brno, October 17, 2014
Concert of Slovak band Elán as part of The Best Of Vol2 tour. Photo: ČTK/Václav Šálek
Setkání a stretnutia / Meetings at the Border
The common past is inscribed in the hearts of Czechs and Slovaks; even the break-up of Czechoslovakia could not change the closeness of the two nations. For example, a tradition of meetings has developed in the border regions, perhaps the most famous of which takes place on the last day of the year at Velké Javořina. Thousands of people come to the highest peak of the White Carpathian Mountains every year.
Czechs are one of the largest minorities in Slovakia and Slovaks in the Czech Republic. In the 2021 Czech census, over 160,000 people claimed Slovak nationality, while almost 29,000 people in Slovakia claimed Czech nationality.
Velká Javořina, December 31, 2019
Male choir from Kunovice during the traditional New Year's Eve meeting at the border Photo: ČTK/Dalibor Glück
Ani spolu, ani bez sebe / Together Alone
The Czechs and Slovaks spent only seven decades in the common state. However, the contacts between the two nations began long before the Masaryk Republic was born in October 1918 and continued even after Czechoslovakia became history on January 1, 1993. For example, the share of those who consider the Czech Republic to be the culturally closest country increased in Slovakia after the dissolution of the federation. Also, about two-thirds of Czechs have friends among Slovaks. This number is growing, thanks to the continuous flow of Slovak students to Czech universities, a significant number of whom settle in the Czech Republic after obtaining their diplomas. One third of Slovaks working in Czech companies have a university degree. Hundreds of Slovaks also marry Czech partners every year.
Skalica (Slovakia), July 10, 2021
Protest against quarantine measures at the Slovak-Czech border crossing Skalica/Sudoměřice during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: ČTK/Michaela Říhová