Unfortunately for us, humanity has yet to find a reliable way to travel through time. For now, the closest things we have to time machines are literature, photography, and film. We definitely have some of the literature covered with The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, as well as some of the photography, so here’s a peek at mid-century Czechoslovakia in action! Strap on your helmets and let’s spend this Sunday on a trip into the world of The Witch Who Came in from the Cold:
Fantastic footage from Prague from the year before before the invasion:
More footage from right before the invasion, what some refer to as the “Prague Spring of Freedom,” from archivists British Pathé:
From the caption:
At Prague Airport, we see a plane coming to a halt on the tarmac and people disembarking. Street scenes in Prague show people milling about, trams going by, people sitting at a pavement cafe, a man sells newspapers, another man looks in a food shop window, people eat ice-cream and sausages in the street.
People walk along Charles Bridge; sentries in dark glasses are seen at the castle gates. Various shots of the cathedral; people going inside. Several shots of the part of the city beside the river, a man and boy throw stones in the water. Several shots of Prague castle and cathedral; the 14th century Karlstein Castle; Konopiste Castle (former home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand), statues in the grounds and peacocks, some with tails spread.
North of the city we see the ‘Bohemian Paradise’ – forests and rocky countryside; three women walk about and look at a large lake. More shots of the city. At an open-air cafe we see Olinka Berova (“a bright young film star” according to commentator) sipping wine; this beautiful blonde beckons us to go with her and wanders around some lovely gardens in the city, rows across a lake before the Valdstein Palace, walks around the city, over the Charles Bridge and beside the river. We see an old, ornate clock with moving figures on the side of a building; Olinka walks through the cloisters of a former monastery, now a museum, and across the courtyard, then wanders around looking at Prague Castle and the cathedral.
She goes inside the cathedral and we see several stained-glass windows, then comes out through the castle gates and walks off down a long flight of steps leading back to the main city, turns and waves at us and skips off.
From after the invasion– footage from Prague in 1969:
Prague in 1970. The caption roughly translates to “A film about the destruction of buildings on Spálená Street…The film is from archival footage of the destruction of Prague and was filmed by staff of the Department of Promotion of military buildings in Prague”:
A film about Czechoslovakia in 1972 from the series Pan Am’s World:
As a bonus, here’s the second part of BBC’s “The Lost World of Communism,”titled The Kingdom of Forgetting, about late-sixties Czechoslovakia: