Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

I was married in a Bohemian Castle

Richard Slater.

Richard Slater.

Part 1 of 8

St Peter’s Road resident and technical author Richard Slater recounts his days in Bohemia. [For readers who may not know, Bohemia is the southern province of the Czech Republic; the northern one is Moravia].  In this first part, he describes the world political situation he encountered on leaving university in 1963.
When I graduated from Nottingham University in the summer of 1963, I certainly never thought that within three years I would be getting married in a castle in Bohemia! You may not think that getting married in Czechoslovakia is a big deal, in these days when the Czech Republic is a member of both the EU and NATO and Prague is a popular destination for stag and hen parties. But in the 1960s the Cold War was at its height, and we in the West seemed to be losing. 1961 saw Cuba go communist and the CIA respond by organising the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion. The Russians exploded the biggest hydrogen bomb ever – 58 megatons and known as the Doomsday Device  – and put the first man into space. And the Berlin Wall went up. 1962 was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the one and only time that the RAF’s V-bomber force was actually armed with nuclear weapons and put on the highest alert status. I was in my second year at university, and we all really expected World War III to start any minute.
  The main event of 1963 was the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas, and at the time many people thought the KGB was responsible. Here, it was revealed that Kim Philby, a very senior MI6 officer, had been a Soviet double agent for 30 years – the latest in a long line of spy scandals. In 1964, China exploded its first A-bomb; in 1965 US troops arrived in force in Vietnam and the bombing began. 1966 heralded Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China, which tested its first H-bomb in 1967. In 1968 there was serious student unrest, with rioting in many countries, especially France, and Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated. And then came the Prague Spring, followed quickly by the Soviet Bloc invasion. These were very scary times. In those days, to visit any country in the Soviet Bloc you had to be granted a visa. And citizens of those countries were almost never allowed out!
Next issue: Richard decides to become a computer engineer – which leads him behind the iron curtain.

Karlstejn Castle in Bohemia where Richard Slater married Eva Frankova in 1966.

Karlstejn Castle in Bohemia where Richard Slater married Eva Frankova in 1966.

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