Monday, October 28, 2013

Czechoslovakia: 95th anniversary

We've had another beautiful, summer-like day today.

It was the Czech national holiday, an anniversary of the 1918 birth of Czechoslovakia. Slovakia isn't celebrating – I respect that but frankly speaking, I do think that it's a sign of their partial national immaturity.

Prof Tomáš Garrigue [American wife's surname] Masaryk returned from the exile where he convinced Woodrow Wilson and other leaders of the Western powers to agree that the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy was inevitable and the creation of a new state of the Czechoslovak nation would make Central Europe more stable. As the ultimate authority, he's been the president-founder of the "First Republic" through the late 1930s. Other key founders of Czechoslovakia were Edvard Beneš who would become the second president (one who had to see the devouring of his democracy by Hitler and then Stalin/communism) and the Slovak diplomat/politician/pilot/astronomer/meteorologist Milan Rastislav Štefánik. None of these leaders of the resistance movement were fanatics or angry radicals we know from other nations; up to some moment, they favored some autonomy within Austria-Hungary, in fact. There were many important politicians who worked "internally" (Karel Kramář, Alois Rašín, and others).

Masaryk would still ride horses when he was 84. Troubles began to pile up soon after his death.

Similar TRF articles: 2007, 2008, others.

When I think about the monarchy the Czechs enjoyed until 1918, mostly under some supervision by the German-speaking leaders and bosses, at least after 1620, it seems somewhat romantic, too. But the First Republic had to be fine, too. It was a very modern democratic country – including some of the features that accompany modern countries such as a slight inclination of the elite to the leftist thoughts (which were not too leftist at that time).

During communism, the First Republic was officially presented as a "step in the right direction" – from feudalism to capitalism (and then socialism). Of course, some negative spin had to be added, too. Kids would often hear that "Masaryk was shooting into the people". ;-) Add all that unemployment and healthcare that wasn't for free.

The 1797 Emperor Quartet by Joseph Haydn had belonged to all the nations of Austria-Hungary including us (Czech lyrics is shown above; some other versions). In 1918, it was hijacked by Prussia which is why it later became the anthem of the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, West Germany, and reunified Germany.

Some pictures from the First Republic – although some bad things must have been forgotten, it really looks like the ultimate relaxed life. Music: "An old man is sitting and listening to jazz. And it seems to him as if it were today" by Petr Skoumal.

"Bugatti Step" by Mr Jaroslav Ježek, a top composer of the First Republic working mostly for the Liberated Theater of Voskovec and Werich. I like e.g. Scott Joplin but Ježek's compositions seem much more sophisticated and ingenious to me. Well, the other "generic hits" of the First Republic sound too cheesy or simple to me.


  1. Congratulations, Lubos, on your national birthday. I trust that your country and mine will be friends forever.
    I still think that your city and mine, Santa Rosa, both having 170,000 people, would be perfect sister cities.

  2. Thanks, Gene! I will give the suggestion tothe Pilsen's mayor next time I physically collide with him in front of the City Hall. Last (and first) time it happened to me was last Tuesday. ;-)

  3. Very cool! It's great that this old footage still exists. Czechia has a great history, and Prague was once the intellectual capital of Europe. The continent has gotten boring lately, though, and it would be nice if the Czechs would shake things up a little again. If you could arrange something like a new Hussite heresy it would be great! I would love to read your posts explaining to your readers why they will go to hell unless they practice Communion in both kinds. Think of it! Lubos the great physicist and Taborite!

  4. LOL, thanks. ;-) One can find some even older videos from the Czech lands.

  5. Kde domov můj, kde domov můj...

    I celebrated my old country's birthday with what else but a half of dozen Czech beers, the famous Pilsner Urquell, brewed in a nice little city in western
    Bohemia - Plzeň.
    The country will end this year with a new government, which I am sure all other countries in European Union will be envious of... Happy Birthday Czech Republic !

  6. Ad) "Slovakia isn't celebrating – I respect that but frankly speaking, I do think that it's a sign of their partial national immaturity."
    Sorry, Lubos, but this is not true.
    You didn't hear about a celebration, so you think they don't celebrate at all?
    28-th Oct. is an official memorial day of Slovakia.
    You write without ensuring the facts. Frankly speaking - it is a sign of your partial immaturity... ;)

  7. Dear bro, I know very well it's the "memorial day" but because people go to work, it doesn't mean anything at all.

  8. Amazing footage, when you consider you're looking at a man who came to the throne in the revolutionary year of 1848. He was really lucky to die in 1916, before the end.

  9. LOL, right! It would correspond to a rather high number of "terms" these days. ;-) So much for the stories that the life expectancy had to be really really low 100 years ago.