Soudobé dějiny 3-4 / 2020


From responsibility to control

Censorship during the early normalization period (September 1968 – August 1969)

Petr Andreas

The topic of the study is the censorship apparatus in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic between September 1968 and August 1969, i.e during the first year after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies, with a particular focus on the system of authorized representative in the context of the media policy of the government and the Communist party. The representatives were the central executive element of censorship in the early normalization period. The author identifies four models of preliminary supervision over the media, which reflect the authorized representatives´ changing role and tasks. In the first model, the representatives were selected by publishers and editors among their employees; activities of rank-and-file journalists were thus supervised by their colleagues who were following direct instructions of the government. The model was implemented and used since the establishment of the authorized representatives´ category in September 1968 throughout the period under review, in dailies, weeklies, and also in the Czechoslovak Press Agency; in the winter of 1968, they were joined by the Czechoslovak Radio and the Czechoslovak Television. It gave editorial boards and editorial staff enough leeway to circumvent and negotiate and, in the opinion of the Czechoslovak political leadership, and particularly in the eyes of the Soviets, it did not prove too successful. In the second model, official representatives were checking test copies submitted by editorial boards. The model was implemented in February 1969 in selected magazines which were considered problematic (Listy, Reportér and Zítřek) and it also fell short of expectations from the viewpoint of the pro-Soviet consolidation policy. In the third model, implemented since April 1969, official (or army) representatives were checking test copies directly in editorial offices and their interventions were seen as a substantial improvement. At that time, the role of the Czech Office for Press and Information, which started making independent decisions concerning appointments of representatives and personnel of editorial boards, was becoming more important. The fourth preliminary censorship model employed representatives who, at the time of the first anniversary of the Soviet intervention in August 1969, were checking signal copies directly in printing works. This mode of supervision was viewed as an unquestionable success. The Czech Office for Press and Information subsequently abandoned the policy of representatives and replaced it by a follow-on supervision model combined with a targeted personnel policy; the very last documents referring to the system of representatives date back to 1971.

Unrest before the storm

Membership base of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia toward the end of the normalization period

 Jaroslav Pažout

The study maps out changes in the membership base of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and changes in moods, opinions and attitudes of party members at the end of the 1980s, i.e. at the time when the crisis of the normalization regime was increasing. To this end, the author makes use of, in particular, information reports prepared by the party apparatus on the basis of letters and complaints of party members and other citizens addressed to Communist Party leaders, other internal documents of the party, and period public opinion polls. He systematically identifies and examines each of the problematic areas which were regularly reflected in these documents: dropping interest in the membership in the Communist Party, manifestations of disobedience among party members, violations of party standards, and corruption; criticism of slow implementation of reforms, or, on the other hand, of too fast-advancing and far-reaching democratization; dissatisfaction with information presented by the media, alleged ideological defensive, and yielding to “opposition elements”; concerns about the future of socialism and a potential return of capitalism, also in connection with developments in the Soviet Union, Poland, and Hungary; national resentments, particularly in relation to the Hungarian minority in southern Slovakia and the government´s plans to establish German  cemeteries in the territory of Czechoslovakia; historical resentments, especially as regarded a partial reevaluation of the period of the first Czechoslovak Republic and the foundation period of the Communist regime; and, last but not least, various, mostly verbal anti-Communist incidents reflected in the letters and complaints. The author states that the empirical data on the development of the membership base of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and opinions of party members presented in the study does not confirm a conclusion to the effect that the policy of the Communist Party leadership enjoyed support of an overwhelming majority of party members, which was what party reports and excerpts from the letters mentioned above might suggest. He also examines the reasons why supporters of conservative and dogmatic opinions prevailed over “liberal” party members among the critical voices. In his opinion, the growing dissatisfaction among party members made a significant contribution to the helplessness of leaders of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in dealing with accumulating problems of the country, which became fully manifest after November 17, 1989.

The land of new happiness?

Czech searching in “murky waters” (1918–1945/48)

Petr Hlaváček

The author´s essayistic text outlines contours of spiritual streams which were looking for alternatives to Czechoslovakia´s democratic, capitalist and republican system and its orientation to the West between the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and the advent of the Communist regime in 1948. He states that there were continuous voices which regarded Masaryk´s Czechoslovakia as a mere intermezzo and an unsatisfactory answer to the “Czech question”, although the unexpected restoration of the Czech independence in the form of a state shared with Slovaks enjoyed support of a clear majority of both nations and their elites. In this respect, the author speaks about “murky waters” or a “declination discourse”, which included voices demanding a breakup with the West and a revolutionary or authoritarian solution. Attractive models included Soviet Russia (for strong radical left-wingers), Fascist Italy, Catholic orthodoxy and, last but not least, Nazi Germany (for conservative or Fascist right-wingers). After the demise of the First Republic, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was a temporary victory for those who professed the German “New Europe”; after the liberation, the Third Republic brought closer a socialist perspective which turned into a Soviet protectorate after the Communist coup in 1948. The author presents opinions and texts of some intellectuals critical toward the liberal democratic system, among them prominent personalities including Communist journalist Julius Fučík (1903–1943), collaborationist journalist and Protectorate government minister Emanuel Moravec (1893–1945), theologist Josef Lukl Hromádka (1889–1969), politician Hubert Ripka (1895–1958), or President Edvard Beneš (1884–1948), the principal democratic guarantor of the post-war alliance with Stalin´s dictatorship.

“His dark eyes are literally fascinating”

The trip of Czech cultural representatives to Germany and the Netherlands in September 1940

Jiří Křesťan

Between 1939 and 1943, trips to Nazi Germany and to territories occupied by Germany (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, a large part of the Soviet Union) ranked among important tools influencing the public opinion in the so-called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The study deals with a trip of a group of Czech intellectuals – artists, representatives of culture and journalists – to Germany and the Netherlands in September 1940. Under German guidance, the 35-strong delegation was composed to give a representative and diverse impression. Apart from newspapermen collaborating with Germans, such as Karel Lažnovský (1906–1941) or Vladimír Krychtálek (1903–1947), men active in different segments of culture were invited as well, including personalities as outstanding as the directors of the dramatic company and the opera ensemble of the National Theatre in Prague, Jan Bor (1886–1943) and Václav Talich (1883–1961), respectively, operatic singers Jan Konstantin (1894–1965) and Pavel Ludikar (1882–1970), violin virtuoso Váša Příhoda (1900–1960), publisher Bedřich Fučík (1900–1984), or architect Jan Sokol (1904–1987). The study focuses primarily on five writers who took part in the trip. Jaroslav Durych (1886–1962) and Václav Renč (1911–1973) ranked among Catholic-oriented authors, while Josef Knap (1900–1973) and Jan Čarek (1898–1966) represented so-called ruralists (writers of the country), and Josef Hora (1891–1945) was a leading poet, initially writing social poetry and later reflexive lyric poetry. Between the wars, all of them had been critical toward the reality of the First Republic in one way or another, the first four from conservative positions and Hora on the left (until 1929, he had been a member of the Communist Party).

The trip’s programme had been put together very ingeniously. In addition to proofs of the Third Reich’s brutal strength (a visit of the bombed-out city of Rotterdam, a sight-seeing tour of the Krupp arms factory in Essen), the travelers were served a menu of diverse cultural experiences (visits of theatrical performances, exhibitions and museums, outstanding architectural creations etc.).  In Berlin, they were received by Joseph Goebbels (1897–1945), Reichsminister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, who emphasized, while addressing them, that the survival of the Czech nation and its culture depended on its submission to the German Reich. Upon their return home, all participants were forced to give public statements about the trip and their impressions, which had to conform to Nazi propaganda. Having described the above facts, the author analyzes defence strategies which the abovementioned authors were using while writing made-to-order articles or showing their supposed loyalty in order to avoid being dragged into the Nazi propaganda machine. They were bypassing some topics, resorting to allegories and ambiguities, and making use of concealed irony. In the end of the study, the author follows the fates of those who took part in the trip to Germany and the Netherlands, pondering, in a more general manner, fuzzy boundaries and dilemmas of guilt and collaboration in a totalitarian regime. Attached to the article are short biographies of all thirty-five participants in the trip.

“I was shouting – fuck, fuck!”

Vítězslav Nezval and his poetics of Moscow

Tomáš Glanc

In August 1934, poet and writer Vítězslav Nezval (1900–1958), a leading personality of the Czechoslovak inter-war art avant-garde and also a member of the Communist party, visited Moscow as one of the Western guests invited to the founding congress of the Union of Soviet Writers; one year later, he published a prosaic-essayistic reflection of his visit under the title The Invisible Moscow. The purpose of the present study approached from a semiotic angle is to obtain access to the intentional meaning of this specific testimony concealed behind a factual description of events and environments. The author first outlines a broader socio-political context consisting in an intensive interest of Western left-wing intellectuals in the Soviet Union between the world wars and, on the other hand, in systematic efforts of the Soviet leadership to make use of this potential for their own benefit. Nezval ranked among artists who felt a priori sympathies toward the Soviet social experiment, and they are clearly seen in his text, although he himself declared that his intention was not to provide a testimony about the Soviet “objective reality”, which is what media reports or articles do. To understand Nezval’s work, the author believes it must be kept in mind that Nezval, while in the Soviet Union, was looking for, first and foremost, inspiration and connections with poetic and ideological principles he professed. Nezval’s cognitive method is intuition, free of any rational and critical reflections, and his creative principle is imagination, whose incarnation Nezval found in surrealism. The reality around him serves as a matter for a distillation of experiences occurring in a dream mode. This allows him to overlook or willfully interpret various phenomena related, for example, to the repressive aspect of Stalin’s regime or the onerous everydayness of the Soviet Union’s citizens. The author sees the dominant feature of this dreamlike experience and the line connecting seemingly incompatible segments of reality into all-embracing lyrical intoxication in an erotic principle. Nezval is excited by Moscow as an object of bliss, as a source of sexual arousal. This principle is offered to him as a key enabling an individual to cross the boundary of individualism and blend into the society as a bridge between the eternity of sexual ecstasy and the eternity of the classless Communist society, thus promising the fulfillment of human utopias.  The author provides an analysis of the text of The Invisible Moscow in support of his conclusions, and links them to some period esthetic and philosophical concepts.

Through the Soviet Orient

Interwar trips of Czechoslovak writers to peripheral regions of the Soviet Union

Kateřina Šimová

The edition brings a commented selection of texts from reportage publications and travelogues of four Czechoslovak writers, which reflect their experiences gathered during their trips to and stays in “exotic” non-European regions of the Soviet Union between the two world wars. They are: Julius Fučík (1903–1943), a journalist, literary critic and columnist, Egon Erwin Kisch (1885–1948), a Czech-German journalist, reporter and writer living in Prague, the Czech-German writer and diplomat Franz Carl Weiskopf (1900–1955), also living in Prague, and the Czech-Jewish writer, newsman and translator Jiří Weil (1900–1959). All of them were organized Communists (Weil was expelled from the Communist Party in 1935), travelling at an invitation of Soviet authorities, and their texts, which were published in Czechoslovakia and Germany between 1927 and 1937, presented a more or less idealized picture of the Soviet reality with a propagandistic air. The selected texts capture the authors’ impressions mainly from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but also from other regions of Soviet Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Altai Mountains. Their central topic is the clashing of the old world of traditions and customs of local people with the new world of intensive socialist development and industrialization. Julius Fučík and Jiří Weil were specifically interested in the Czechoslovak cooperative of emigrant workers and farmers, Interhelpo, established in 1925 and operating until the late 1930s off the town of Frunze (now Bishkek).

In her introductory study opening the edition, the authoress outlines circumstances and conditions of travelling to the Soviet Union in the interwar period, particularly to the country’s outlying regions which were, due to their remoteness, poor road and railway infrastructure and sometimes also security situation, difficult to access for visitors from abroad. She also describes the trips of the four authors mentioned above to the Soviet Orient, sets their reflections into a broader period context, and indicates their typical motifs. The central theme here is a conflict of the exotic, the old backward world of traditions and customs of indigenous inhabitants, and modernity. In the perception of the authors, the modernity is a combination of three interconnected segments; the first one is a process of industrialization, converting backward regions into dynamic agrarian-industrial centers through electrification, development of transport infrastructure, and urbanization. The second segment is represented by a new organization of social relations based on social and material equality of citizens and reflected mainly in the emancipation of local nations and ethnics and also of women. The third segment is related to a group of topics which can be summarized under a Foucaultian term biopolitics. It consists mainly of a fight against illiteracy and an emphasis on education, development of a medical care system, or building or leisure and cultural institutions (clubs, cinemas, theaters). The principal tool and prime mover of the modernization process is labour which is, in a country striving to build a Communist system, not just a factor of existence, a source of subsistence, but, first and foremost, an existential factor – the meaning of life and a source of happiness and contentment – and also a medium of socialization and disciplination. It is through labour that the Soviet man or woman steps beyond his or her individual needs and interests and becomes a useful part of the society and a “new man”.


A human president in inhuman times

Detlef Brandes

Machálek, Vít: Prezident lidskosti: Životní příběh Emila Háchy. Prague: Academia, 2020, 846 pp. + 36 unnumbered pp. of graphic annexes, ISBN 978-80-200-3056-6.

The reviewer recaps the most important moments in the career of Emil Hácha. Born in 1872 in the small South Bohemian town of Trhové Sviny, he studied and graduated in law, and became a deputy of the Bohemian Diet. While in Vienna during the Great War, he started his career at the Supreme Administrative Court; when Czechoslovakia became independent, he joined the same court in Prague, advancing to the position of the chairman of its senate in 1925. His leaning toward England is proved by his professional treatises, but also literary translations from English. He had never wanted to be a politician, but after the Munich Agreement and the resignation of President Edvard Beneš (1884–1978) he let himself to be talked into succeeding him. He perceived his decision as a sacrifice in the national interest; on March 15, 1939, acting under Hitler´s pressure, he signed the declaration on the formation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in Berlin. The reviewer emphasizes that the author approached his extensive, impressive and fact-rich biography titled The president of humanity: The life story of Emil Hácha with a great deal of empathy toward Hácha, accentuating his anchoring in Christian faith, conservative values and personal humanity. He goes through difficult dilemmas which Hácha was exposed to as the president of a puppet state in his dealings with the occupation power, and his repeated thoughts about resignation. The reviewer agrees with the author that Hácha, his declining physical and intellectual capabilities notwithstanding, did not stop striving to achieve a release of imprisoned Czechs.  In his opinion, the author has submitted convincing evidence to the effect that the restored state power often employed an insensitive and unjust approach toward Hácha and other politicians accused of collaboration after the liberation. Hácha himself was arrested and died in a pathetic condition in a prison hospital in June 1945.

Memoirs of an ambiguous contemporary witness and the “history of Hácha in the period context”

Vít Machálek

Kliment, Josef: U obětovaného prezidenta: Hořké paměti Háchova tajemníka. Ed. Václav Velčovský. (Edice Paměť, Vol. 109.) Prague: Academia, 2019, 770 pp., ISBN 978-80-200-2982-9. The publication also contains a booklet titled “Žaloby na Josefa Klimenta” [Lawsuits brought against Josef Kliment], an annex with figures and photographs, and an index.

Josef Kliment (1901–1978) was a lawyer, legal historian and public servant; in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, he was the political and press secretary of President Emil Hácha (1872 – 1945) from the autumn of 1941 till the spring of 1944, and then became the Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court. He was arrested after the war and sentenced to life by the National Court in 1947. He was amnestied and released from prison in 1960. The reviewer presents an edition of Kliment’s extensive work titled With the sacrificed president: Bitter memoirs of Hácha’s secretary, which dates back to the 1970s and is a combination of memoirs, a historical treatise, and Hácha’s fragmentary biography. He explains the historical context of Kliment’s work for the Office of the State President, specified the nature of Kliment’s relations with President Hácha, analyzes the source value of the work and credibility of Kliment’s statements, taking into account the self-styling of Kliment as a contemporary witness and a historical player in one person, who captured events taking place in the troubled times of the German occupation and spent a long time in prison for his attitudes during the occupation. In the reviewer’s opinion, Kliment’s work and fate how thin the dividing line between the strategy of the nation’s defence and collaboration could be. In spite of having some reservations concerning the publisher’s approach to Kliment’s work, the reviewer believes that the publication represents an extraordinarily praiseworthy deed.

The devil is in the detail

Eduard Burget

Kliment, Josef: U obětovaného prezidenta: Hořké paměti Háchova tajemníka. Ed. Václav Velčovský. (Edice Paměť, Vol. 109.) Prague: Academia, 2019, 770 pp., ISBN 978-80-200-2982-9.

Josef Kliment (1901–1978) was a lawyer, legal historian and public servant; in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, he was the political and press secretary of President Emil Hácha (1872–1945) from the autumn of 1941 till the spring of 1944, and then became the Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court. He was arrested after the war and sentenced to life by the National Court in 1947. He was amnestied and released from prison in 1960. The reviewer focuses on the editor’s approach to Kliment’s work titled With the sacrificed president: Bitter memoirs of Hácha’s secretary. In his opinion, its publication merits a commendation, and he also appreciates Václav Velčovský’s introductory study, but he has substantial reservations about the latter’s editorial work. The reviewer believes the editor has chosen a non-standard approach, as he has marked only some of the frequent segments omitted from the extensive text and arbitrarily. Furthermore, the reviewer criticizes the fact the editor has not taken into account the oldest version of Kliment’s memoirs, which was written ten years earlier, while Kliment was still in prison. In the reviewer’s opinion, the publication’s index, which is incomplete and non-systematic, cannot fulfil its role as well. These and other violations of editorial principles thus partly reduce the value of the important publication.

In the spiritual service on battlefields and in the Czechoslovak Republic

Marek Šmíd

Flosman, Martin: S orlem i lvem, Vol. 1: Příběhy českých vojenských duchovních od 17. století do první světové války. (Traumata války, Vol. 11.) Prague and Ústí nad Labem: Epocha and Univerzita J. E. Purkyně, 2018, 432 pp., ISBN 978-80-27557-135-9 and 978-80-7561-144-4;

Flosman, Martin: S orlem i lvem, Vol. 2: Příběhy českých vojenských duchovních v dramatickém dvacátém století. (Traumata války, Vol. 12.) Prague: Epocha and Ústav pro stadium totalitních režimů 2019, 496 pp., ISBN 978-80-7557-230-1 and 978-80-88292-39-5.

The extensive two-tome monograph titled With the eagle and the lion (with subtitles Stories of Czech military chaplains from the 17th century until the Great War and Stories of Czech military chaplains during the dramatic 20th century) deals with on a topic that has not been, until now, in the focus of attention of Czech historiographers, namely on transformations of the military spiritual service in the Czech Lands since the 17th until the mid-20th centuries. The author concentrates on military chaplains in the Austrian, or Austro-Hungarian army, among Czechoslovak legionnaires, and also in the Czechoslovak Army in the period of the First Republic, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and first years of the post-war “people’s democracy” until the disbandment of the spiritual service in the army by the Communist regime in 1950. Although primarily interested in Roman Catholic chaplains, he does not leave aside Greek Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant priests, field rabbis, or imams, and analyzes their diverse duties. The reviewer appreciates the multitude of sources, whether published or not, the author’s comprehensive approach and coverage, and his perceptive description of the fate of military chaplains on battlefields, particularly during both world wars. The work allows to perceive the duty of military chaplains as a multifaceted phenomenon over three and a half centuries, and its gripping presentation, including many biographic medallions of priests, makes it open for a broad audience of readers.

About (not) travelling during the socialist era

Pavel Szobi

Mücke, Pavel: Štastnou cestu…?! Proměny politik cestování a cestovního ruchu v Československu za časů studené války (1945–1989). Pelhřimov: Nová tiskárna Pelhřimov, 2017, 399 pp., ISBN 978-80-7415-149-1.

In his monograph titled Have a good journey..?! Transformation of travelling and tourism policies in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War (1945–1989) the author is looking for an answer to the question about the place occupied by this phenomenon in minds and attitudes of Czechoslovak political, party and economic elites in those days. In the reviewer’s opinion, the monograph is based on a thorough exploitation of available archival sources and takes the existing state of knowledge to a substantially more comprehensive level. The reviewer presents some of the author’s findings, e.g. on the development of outbound and incoming tourism with socialist and capitalist countries, operation of hotels, Czechoslovakia’s participation in world exhibitions (expos), or   on recreation of Communist functionaries, concluding that the monograph’s concept and style may be attractive for a broader audience.

“Look, weekend cottagers have come…”

Why weekend cottagers is still popular in the Czech Lands

Irena Cejpová

Schindler-Wisten, Petra: O chalupách a lidech: Chalupářství v českých zemích v období tzv. normalizace a transformace. Prague: Univerzita Karlova and Karolinum, 2017, 210 pp., ISBN 978-80-246-3613-9.

The authoress’s monograph titled About holiday homes and people: Holiday homes in the Czech Lands in the period of so-called normalization and transformation maps the phenomenon of holiday cottages in the Czech Lands since its very beginnings in the 19th century almost until today. In this respect, she focuses on the post-war period of the Communist regime, in particular the 1970s and 1980s, the years of the so-called normalization, when this type of spending one’s free time, and partly also a lifestyle consisting in spending weekends and holidays in own houses and cottages, indeed became a   mass phenomenon in Czechoslovakia. Using results of oral history research, she is looking for reasons why the so-called “second housing” became so popular among various groups of the Czech society, social and economic differences notwithstanding. The reviewer appreciates the publication as the first attempt to deal with the topic in question in a clear and comprehensive manner and from a historical point of view rather than from sociological or socio-geographic ones, which represents a significant factual enrichment of the current state of knowledge. However, she also formulates some methodological reservations with respect to the research project whose results are presented in reviewed work, claiming that not enough clear reasons have been given to justify its starting points and outlining untapped opportunities in this respect.

A female look behind the curtain of dissent

Lenka Krátká

LINKOVÁ, Marcela, and Naďa Straková (eds.): Bytová revolta: Jak ženy dělaly disent. Preface by Petr Blažek. Prague: Academia and Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v. v. i. 2017, 413 pp., ISBN 978-50-200-2794-8 a 978-80-7330-302-0.

In the reviewer’s opinion, the editors of the publication titled Revolution begins at home: The women of the Czech dissent offer, through interviews with twenty-one women of the Charter 77, an unconventional look behind the well-known image of the dissident initiative which was, through the substance of what it was doing, i.e. struggle for the observance of human and civil rights in Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s, linked to what is known as Big History, and therefore perceived as a domain of men by most people. The collection of stories of female dissidents disproves the simple dichotomy of the public “male” and “female” spheres, as homes of dissidents were places where personal and private matters merged with the public and political ones, and shows the irreplaceable role of these women in the operation of the “world of dissent”. The final interpretation study makes a substantial contribution to the comprehensive nature of this treatise on activities of women within the Charter 77 initiative and on the Czechoslovak dissent in general. The reviewer examines the interviews in greater detail; in her opinion, the absence of any methodological guidance that would indicate how the interviews were conducted and edited is a serious shortcoming of the publication.

The Soviet thaw and Western culture

Ondřej Holub

Gilburd, Eleonory: To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture. Cambridge (Mass.): The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, xii + 458 pp., ISBN 9780674980716.

The reviewed work written by an American cultural historian examines processes which co-formed the remarkable phenomenon of Soviet cultural renaissance in early years of the rule of Nikita Khrushchev, which is customarily referred to as the Khrushchev Thaw. It focuses on social and cultural frameworks and ways in which the internationalization of the Soviet culture and intensive reception of Western culture by the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death were taking place. The reviewer notes that the authoress avoids the conceptual inclusion of the topic into Cold War Studies defined in terms of political science, and instead prefers to examine cultural mentality changes. The authoress formulates her propositions on the basis of an analysis of events such as the World Festival of Youth and Students held in Moscow in 1957, and particularly of the acceptance of Western literature and films. She shows how the universalistic change was proceeding hand in hand with changes of readers’ and film spectators’ experiences of the Soviet general public which, through the acquisition of fiction stories and characters of heroes presented by authors such as Ernest Hemingway, was changing its own established concepts of the hierarchy of ethical values and social normalcy. It was under these influences that the post-Stalinist model of “hybrid culture” was being established and subcultural attitudes of a part of urban youths referred to as stilyagi were created.

Not just Frida Kahlo

History of Latin American art written by Czech graduates in Ibero-American studies

Hana Bortlová-Vondráková

Brenišínová, Monika and Markéta Křížová: Dějiny umění Latinské Ameriky. Prague: Univerzita Karlova and Karolinum, 2018, 403 pp., ISBN 978-80-246-3175-2.

The reviewer states that the publication titled History of Latin American Art is the first-ever book of its type in the Czech book market and, at the same time, a unique deed in today’s Czech academic production. In her opinion, a very likable feature of the publication consists in the fact that the authoresses do not attempt to present a comprehensive overview of specific artists and works, but prefer to introduce a broad range of topics which are typical for Ibero-American graphic arts – from the pre-Columbian time to the Conquista and colonization and until today. They identify principal art trends and flows spanning centuries and covering the whole American continent (including the Hispanic community in the United States), and are interested in principal issues which Latin American artists have been devoting their attention to. They describe power policy, economic, environmental and social changes and the art dynamism related thereto in a chronological order, focusing on three principal areas – architecture, painting, and sculpture. The reviewer deals in detail with chapters on the Latin American art of the 20th century, emphasizing the extraordinary importance of the political context for its formation, and sees its dominating feature in a search for own identity in the tension between the pre-Columbian tradition and European and North American influences. In particular, she concentrates on the penetration of modernism and avant-garde to Latin America and graphic art works produced in Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, and by Latinos in the United States.


Gender inspirer of contemporary history

Hana Havelková (18. 9. 1949 – 31. 10. 2020)

Adéla Gjuričová

The obituary is a reminder of Hana Havelková, a sociologist and one of the leading personalities of the Czech feminist thinking after the fall of the Communist regime. She was initially focusing on Critical Theory; since the 1990s, she was active in the community of the non-profit Gender Studies organization in Prague and the Slovak feministic magazine Aspekt. In the beginning of the new century, she was the prime mover of the establishment and accreditation of the discipline of gender studies at the Faculty of Humanities of the Charles University in Prague, where she subsequently lectured until 2018. Hana Havelková was not an activist, but a scientifically oriented researcher interested in a mental definition and exact analysis of the gender as an organizational principle of the society at both institutional and symbolical levels.  She studied the gender on topics such as the fate of the Czech women’s movement during the socialist era and after, dilemmas of feminism in Eastern Europe, the role of expert thinking in the formation of gender relations, or political participation issues. Initially, she was the only person in the Czech feminist environment to step out from the sole source of inspiration represented by Anglo-American authorities and the first introduce Italian, German and Austrian sources into this community. The authoress stresses the significance of Hana Havelková as a source of inspiration for Czech contemporary history, whose mainstream did not show any interest in a discussion with gender studies for quite some time, and her ability to cross interdisciplinary boundaries in this area.

Prague Conference on the Memory of Communism

Oldřich Tůma

The article provides a report on the “How we remember. The Memory of Communism 1989–2019. Its Forms, Manifestations, Meanings” international historical conference, which took place in Prague on September 17 and 18, 2019. The aim of the conference was to have a broad transnational debate on forms, manifestations and meanings of the memory of Communist regimes in various settings and environments. The organizers managed to put together a truly impressive programme with forty active participants from fourteen countries, mainly from Eastern Europe, but also from the West.  In addition to the Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, the conference was organizationally and financially supported  by a number of prominent international and foreign institutions: European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship (Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur), the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung office in Prague, German Historical Institute Warsaw (Deutsches historisches Institut Warschau) and the Goethe-Institut in Prague, the host of the conference’s proceedings. The media partner was the Český rozhlas Plus radio.

Migrations and their consequences in the region of former Yugoslavia

Report on an international workshop

Milan Sovilj

The report provides information on the international workshop titled “Dynamics of migration and their impact in comparative perspective in former Yugoslavia”, which was jointly organized by the Institute of World History and the Department of South Slavic and Balkan Studies of the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University and took place on October 8, 2019, in Prague. The presentations delivered at the event covered migration processes after the Great War, during the period of socialist Yugoslavia, and in the 1990s as a result of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conference confirmed continuing interest of both the Czech professional community and the general public in modern and contemporary history of the Balkans.

Soudobé dějiny 3-4 / 2020

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