"What's New? How Is the World Treating You?"

In 1939 Johnny Burke (1908-1964) composed the music and Bob Haggard (1914-1998) wrote the lyrics for the hit song "What's New?" whose first line serves as the title of this blog.  To listen to Linda Ronstadt (born 1946) perform "What's New?" with Nelson Riddle (1921-1985) and his orchestra (Asylum, 1983), click here.  A new window will open, allowing the music to play in the background.

Check this web page for occasional posts containing news and commentary, mainly about events in Central Europe.  To read the article of your choice, either click on the title that appears in the table of contents or scroll down the page.
For news and commentary from the most recent past quarter, click here.  For earlier quarters in the year or previous years, see the Introduction and Index for "What's New?"

Table of Contents for the Second Quarter of 2020

The Prague Spring Concert Series for 2020 Is on Line    24 May 2020

Since the end of the Second World War, Prague has sponsored a series of concerts in a cycle called Prague Spring.  They occur in several venues throughout the city, with concerts ranging from symphonic selections to jazz.  Musicians and entire orchestras come from all over the world to take part in the performances, which receive state funding and are within the budgets of the vast majority of ordinary Czech citizens.  This year, the coronavirus has disrupted the concerts, so the organizers putt the entire schedule on line.  The concerts begin on 24 May and continue, every day, until 4 June (there is no concert on Saturday, 30 May).  To listen to the concerts, click on https://festival.cz/en/program/ (from the menu at the top of the page, be sure to select EN, for English, instead of CZ, for Czech).  Scroll down to see the individual concerts, or click the “Event Calender” tab.  At the appointed time, click on the specific concert, scroll down, and click on the blue viewing screen.  Once the performance ends, it is no longer available and disappears from the calendar.

Music is one way to restore life’s energy.  In this time of continued uncertainty, a free classical concert from Prague is a safe way to celebrate the arrival of summer and the renew one’s spirits.  Enjoy!

The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the End of World War II in Europe    8 May 2020

On 7 May 1945, the Germans surrendered to the British, French, and Americans at Reims, France, and they signed another treaty with the Soviets, in Berlin, on 9 May 1945.  The seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War with Germany normally would be a grand affair in Europe, but coronavirus required subdued commemorations.  The Washington Post published an article about the anniversary of the war’s end from the Russian standpoint and highlighted the activities of Galina Brok-Beltsova (born 1925), the last surviving member of the Soviet all-female aviation regiments.  She served as a navigator on a bomber.  After the war, she became a historian.  See https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/this-woman-flew-soviet-combat-missions-in-wwii-she-is-the-last-one-left/2020/05/07/0f6a9896-84aa-11ea-81a3-9690c9881111_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most.

Coronavirus Edition    7 May 2020

The first quarter of 2020 was remarkable for the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which also had an effect on CentralEuropeanObserver.com. Lenka Kocková and I had planned a tour in May 2020, and all the pieces had fallen into place beautifully. Because of the virus, however, we had to cancel the tour, on 8 March, much to the disappointment of the participants. Lenka and I are working on rescheduling the tour for 2021.

Complicating matters in the first four months of 2020 was a fourth course that I taught online. “Contested Lands: Europe between Germany and Russia” is an undergraduate course that I may teach again in the future. I spent the entire semester writing the lectures for the course and assembling tables, figures, images, and personal photographs. As a result of the course, I was unable to update this website, even though there were important developments, especially in the deepening of dictatorial control in Hungary and Poland and increased tensions between the Czech Republic and Russia.

During the summer months, I do not prepare many posts, but I will create a few. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to be cautious and to maintain social distancing, despite what some state and local governments may do to restart their economies. If you are inclined to use the European Union or individual states as an indicator for whether it is safe to resume normal activities, keep in mind that European states shut down much earlier than the United States, and their lockdown measures were far stricter than those in the US. As a result, recovery in America will arrive later than in the EU, especially if parts of the US reopen before the virus has abated sufficiently.