With this successor book to Prague in Black and Gold, his account of more than a thousand years of Central European history, the great scholar Peter Demetz focuses on just six short years—a tormented, tragic, and unforgettable time. He was living in Prague then—a “first-degree half-Jew,” according to the Nazis’ terrible categories—and here he joins his objective chronicle of the city under German occupation with his personal memories of that period: from the bitter morning of March 15, 1939, when Hitler arrived from Berlin to set his seal on the Nazi takeover of the Czechoslovak government, until the liberation of Bohemia in April 1945, after long seasons of unimaginable suffering and pain.
Demetz expertly interweaves a superb account of the German authorities’ diplomatic, financial, and military machinations with a brilliant description of Prague’s evolving resistance and underground opposition. Along with his private experiences, he offers the heretofore untold history of an effervescent, unstoppable Prague whose urbane heart went on beating despite the deportations, murders, cruelties, and violence: a Prague that kept its German- and Czech-language theaters open, its fabled film studios functioning, its young people in school and at work, and its newspapers on press. This complex, continually surprising book is filled with rare human detail and warmth, the gripping story of a great city meeting the dual challenge of occupation and of war.