Airheads of Youth (Get Off My Lawn!)

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Tourist alert: There are a couple of big, BIG national parties coming up soon in Eastern Europe! This is due to the simple fact that both Czechoslovakia and Poland emerged at the end of the First World War -so a hundred years ago, in 1918 – from the Russian and Austria-Hungarian Empires which collapsed at the end of that conflict. Fortunately, the exact schedule is fairly spread-out (to the benefit of the hard-core partyer): Founding of the Czechoslovak State, 28 October, of the (Second) Polish Republic on 11 November.

Head in that direction for some substantial celebrations, especially if you missed the last millennial party-day – no, not 1 January 2000 (although that one, too), but 1 May 2004 when these and eight other countries all became EU member-states. No need to study up on the exact historical occasions this time, though, for the natives likely won’t do much of that themselves, at least in the Czech Republic according to to this piece in that country’s main business newspaper Hospodářské noviny.

There people o have plenty of historical milestones from recent history to remember, mostly of the sad variety. But that’s if one cares to recall them in the first place (and isn’t ignorance equivalent to bliss?). Admittedly, the 1918 (happy) events are relatively prominent in the national memory: in a recent survey, 79% could recall the end of the war and/or the establishment of the republic (not from personal experience, of course). Just twenty years later, in 1938, that republic crumbled to dust, abandoned to Nazi German forces due to the infamous Munich Agreement. But only 54% of this poll’s sample know about that.

Similarly, they’re pretty up on the Warsaw Pact invasion n 1968 that put an end to a brief period of liberalization known as the Prague Spring – 76%. Rather fewer (65%) could tell the poll-takers anything intelligent about how the Communists took power in the first place, namely by means of “Victorious February” (as it was styled in Communist propaganda) a Soviet-supported take-over of the government in 1948.

This poll was conducted by the NMS Market Research organization on behalf of Post Bellum, which describes itself as “a non-governmental nonprofit organization which documents the memories of witnesses of the important historical phenomenon [sic] of the 20th century and tries to pass these stories on to the broader public.” It might well be worth your time to click that previous link to read the fuller (English) description of what they try to do, or even to download their entire 24 page EN-language brochure. Crucially, Post Bellum has managed to partner with Czech Radio, and thereby has gained not only necessary equipment for recording and storing live historical testimony, but also occasional programming-slots within State radio’s various channels to present a series of documentaries, collectively titled “Stories of the 20th Century.” The webpage that brings all these together (about 90 of them) for listening/downloading is here; however, as you might well imagine, everything is in Czech.


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