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Election of the Communist party and the end of freedom


Falling in love with Prague
Jan Klein Scientist
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I was accepted and I could study in Prague and that... and I should say there was another... I had an experience... a one-day experience, in Prague before that. Already in the gymnasium... or rather let's start from a different end. One very important commodity in Czechoslovakia was, and it still is, is beer. And for beer you need hops and hops you have to harvest at a certain time and the time is relatively short, so they... the growers asked the schools to send the children, the students there, to help them with the harvest. So it was fun for us.  So every year for two weeks or so we went to northern Bohemia where the hops was mostly growing and harvested hops. And on the way back we took one day stop in Prague and this was my first day and I was just... I just fell in love with the city and that love persists to this day and, so when I... and at the end of the day, I already loved music by that time, at the end of the day before the train... the train left like midnight or something and we were lucky to get the standing entrance ticket to the opera. It was the most wonderful Beethoven's Fidelio I ever heard and never forget that. So Prague it was to be.  And then when I studied in Prague, in the first year in particular, I spent more time in the churches and in all the other architectural wonders of Prague rather than in the classroom but... and I think I could have been a guide through the city if I had the opportunity.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: Czechoslovakia, Bohemia, Fidelio, Prague, Ludwig van Beethoven

Duration: 2 minutes, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008