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The Meaning of Czech History: Masaryk versus Pekař

  • Milan Hauner
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)

Abstract

The dispute over the meaning of Czech history has been going on, in spite of interruptions, for the last hundred years, ever since the controversy over the Manuscript Forgeries. It has not been resolved in favour of any of the opposing camps of interpreters, although it has involved a great number of prominent historians. The long duel between Masaryk and Pekar may be considered its climax.

Keywords

Personal Attack Professional Historian Continuity Thesis Opposing Camp Linguistic Criterion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See the serial ‘History Falsified’ with a section on Czechoslovakia after 1945, in Index on Censorship, (December 1985), pp. 34–39.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Summed up by G. H. Skilling in ‘Sixty-Eight in Historical Perspective’, International Journal, vol. 33/4 (Autumn 1978), pp. 678–701.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    G. H. Skilling, Cross Currents, vol. 3 (1984), pp. 29–47; Svědectví, nos. 58, 59, 60 (1978–9).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    G. H. Skilling, Cross Currents, vol. 2 (1983), pp. 87–112; M. Machovec et. al., T. G. Masaryk a naše současnost (Prague, 1980), published as vol. VII of Masarykův Sborník.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Listy, 5, July 1975, pp. 32–43. English in Survey, vol. 21/3 (Summer 1975), pp. 167–190.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    For example: M. Šimečka, ‘Náš soudruh Winston Smith’, Index on Censorship; ‘Black Holes’, Kosmas, vols. 3 and 4, (Winter 1984–Summer 1985), pp. 23–8.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kosík, ‘Iluze a realismus’, Listy, 7 Nov. 1968.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Svědectví nos. 75, 76, (1985). The two contrasting views published in no. 76 are by B. Komárková, pp. 793–816, searching for a Christian alternative to the Czech Question, and a nihilistic proposition by V. Bělohradský, pp. 819–26, who denies the ‘Right to History’ for the Czechs as an anachronistic and imperialistic prejudice. A wonderful synopsis on the relationship between Czechs and history are the unpublished ‘Letters to a Ger_man Friend’, by Jan Patočka; translation of selected parts: ‘Co jsou Češi? Maly přehled faktů a pokus o vysvětlení’, 150000 slov, vol. 4/12 (1985), pp. 1–32.Google Scholar
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    An excellent recent study on the Manuscript Forgeries is M. Otáhal, ’Význam bojů o Rukopisy’, Masarykův Sborník, vol. vn (1980); pp. 66–99. In English, ‘The Manuscript Controversy in the Czech National Revival’, Cross Currents, vol. 5 (1986) pp. 247–77.Google Scholar
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    J. Werstadt, Odkazy dějin a dějepisců (Prague, 1948), pp. 65–91; F. Kutnar, Přehledné dějiny českěho a slovenskěho dějepisectví, 2 vols. (Prague, 1977).Google Scholar
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    J. Opat, ‘Schauer’s Our Two Questions and Masaryk’, Independent Historiography in Czechoslovakia, Samizdat, vol. 2, (1985). Presented at 16th International Congress of Historians.Google Scholar
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    Česká ptázka. Snahy a tužby národního obrození (Prague, 1895); Naše nýnčjší krise. Pád strany staročeské a počátkové směrů nových (Prague, 1895); Karel Havlíček. Snahy a tužby politického probuzení (Prague, 1896); Jan Hus. Naše obrození a naNaše reformace (Prague, 1896). Excerpts from Česká otázka and other essays have appeared in translation in: René Wellek (ed.), The Meaning of Czech History by Tomáš G. Masaryk (Chapel Hill, 1974).Google Scholar
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    Česká otázka, Karel Havlíček, Jan Hus, passim. See also: 0. Urban, ‘Masarykovo pojetí české otázky’ Ćeskoslovenský časopis historickyý henceforth ČsČH, vol. 17 (1969), pp. 527–51; E. Schmidt-Hartmann, Thomas G. Masaryk’s Realism. Origins of a Czech Political Concept (Munich, 1984), pp. 118–25.Google Scholar
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    Masaryk believed that sociology could capture historical reality in its complexity more adequately than historicism. He was instrumental in arranging the translation of the ‘modern’ historical bestseller of those days, namely T. H. Buckle’s History of Civilization in England, 2 vols., (London, 1857–1861), and wrote an extensive analysis of Buckle, whose determinism must have appealed to him: Theorie dějin dle zásad T. H. Bucklea (Prague, 1884); Základy konkretní logiky (Prague, 1885). See also Kutnar, Přehledné dějiny, vol. II, pp. 35–7.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    ‘Palackého idea národa českého’, Naše doba, vol. 5 (1898), pp. 769–95. In a digested and popularised form Masaryk’s philosophy of Czech history has also appeared in English: D. B. Shillinglaw, The Lectures of Professor T. G. Masaryk at the University of Chicago, Summer 1902 (Lewisburg, 1978).Google Scholar
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    Kutnar, Přehledné dějiny, vol. II, pp. 33–5.Google Scholar
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    Otázka sociální. Zaklady marxismu sociologické a filosofické (Prague, 1898).Google Scholar
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    Pekař ‘Masarykova česká filosofie’ Český časopis historický’ vol. 18 (1912), 1927 edn, p. 39. Henceforth CCH.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 43; ČČH, 4 (1898); J. Herben, Masaryková sekta a Gollová skola (Prague, 1912), pp. 42–3.Google Scholar
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    Vančura, ‘0 vlivu Masarykově na dějinně nazírání u nás’, Česká mysl (special issue, 1910); Criticised by K. Krofta in Přehled, nos. 39–42 (1910). Vancura, ‘Ctm se Masaryk zavděčil českému dčjepisu’, in T. G. Masaryk- K šedesátým narozeninám (Prague, 1911), pp. 117–37.Google Scholar
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    ‘Masarykova česká filosofie’, ČČH, vol. 18, pp. 130–6.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ibid., (1927), p. 39.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Despite his high principles Pekař himself wrote ‘politicised’ history from as early as 1897 when he boldly replied to vicious anti-Czech attacks by the renowned German historian T. Mommsen ( Čechové jako apoštolové barbarství, (Prague, 1898).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Nietzsche, Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie für das Leben (Berlin, 1873–4).Google Scholar
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    Werstadt, Odkazy dějin, p. 69.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Naše doba, vol. 20 (1912–13), pp. 6–19.Google Scholar
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    ČČH, Vol. 18 (1912), pp. 504–8.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Well summarised in Schmidt-Hartmann, Thomas G. Masaryk pp. 144–56.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Patočka, ‘Co jsou Češi?’ (1985), p. 28 (see note 8 above).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Vančura, ‘Čim se Masaryk zavděčil českému dějepisu’ in V. K. Škrach (ed.), Masarykův Sborník, vol. 11 (1926–27), pp. 219–24 ..Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    V. Čern, ‘The Essence of Masaryk’s Personality and What TGM Means to us Today’, in M. Čapek and K. Hrubý (eds), T. G. Masaryk in Perspective. Comments and Criticism (SVU Press, 1981), pp. 99–117.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Z. Nejedlý, Spor o smysl českých dějin. Pokus o filosofii českých dčjin (Prague, 1914). This essay was reprinted in Nejedlý’s collected works, vol. XVI (1953) at the time when he ruled over Czech culture in his dual capacity as Minister of Education and President of the Academy of Sciences. Nejedlý was the author of the voluminous and unfinished biography of T. G. Masaryk, 4 vols. (Prague, 1930–1937). He took the side of Masaryk in the polemic with Pekař, but never succeeded in presenting a coherent philosophy of Czech history, which was his lifelong ambition.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    J. Prokeš, Základní problémy českých dějin (Prague, 1925).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    E. Rádl, 0 smysl českých dějin (Prague, 1925).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    J. Slavík, Pekař contra Masaryk (Prague, 1929).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid., p. 21.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    ČČH, vol. 24 (1918), p. vii.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    See for instance Pekař’s moving speech before the Czech professors of the Prague University in memory of the deceased Emperor Francis Joseph on 4 December 1916 in: W. Lorenz, Monolog über Böhmen (Vienna, 1964), pp. 63–9.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    According to Vančura. See note 30.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Herben quoted in Werstadt, Odkazy dějin, pp. 107–9.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid., pp. 102–18: Among the signatories were historians Borovička, Heidler, Krofta, Kybal, Nejedlý, Niederle, Novotný, Sedláček, Šimák, Opočenský, Teige, Urbánek, Vančura and Vojtíšek.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Emphasised by Vančura. See note 30.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Reprinted after the break-up of the Monarchy as Dějiny Československa (Prague, 1921). It remained the standard textbook for grammar schools. Pekař’s public lecture of 1928 appeared in print in the following year under the title: Smysl českých dějin. O nový názor na českých dějiny (Prague, 1929).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Smysl českých dějin pp. 9–18.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Dějiny Československa pp. 10–11. Cf. also Pekař, 0 periodisaci českých dějin (Prague, 1932). Pekař drew his inspiration for periodisation chiefly from Max Dvořák (1874–1921), also Goll’s pupil, who taught at the University of Vienna (Kunstgeschichte als Geistesgeschichte).Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Masaryk’s criticism of Pekar was published under the initials Č. P. (read ‘Československý President’), in the spring issue of ýeská mysl. Reprinted in Capek and Hrubý, T. G. Masaryk, pp. 263–75.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    See note 38. Also J. Papoušek, ‘T. G. Masaryk a ceskoslovenská dějepisectví’, ČČH, vol. 44 (1938), p. 23; R. Plaschka, Von Palacký bis Pekař (Graz, 1955), p. 82.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    ČČH, vol. 25 (1919) p. 11.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    See in particular Masaryk’s Nová Evropa (Prague, 1920); Engl. ed. The New Europe (London, 1918).Google Scholar
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    J. Dubský, ‘Masaryk a Nčmci: Masarykův koncept nčmectví v jeho boji za vytvoření samostatného státu a jeho poměr k Němcům po roce 1918’, Masarykův Sborník, vol. VII (1980), pp. 217–18. For a comprehensive and balanced account of the German Question, see J. W. Brügel, Tschechen und Deutsche 1918–1938 (Munich, 1967); Engl. ed. Czechoslovakia Before Munich (London, 1973).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Lorenz, Monolog, p. 119.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Masaryk, Světová revoluce (Prague, 1925), pp. 524–32; Dubský ‘Masaryk a Němci’, pp. 220–1.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Dubský, ‘Masaryk a Němci’, p. 224. Masaryk underestimated racism as the chief component of Nazism. Hitler was for him a more brutish disciple of 19th - century ideologies of Pan-Germanism. In his eyes Lagarde, Schoenerer and Wagner were the main culprits, not Hitler. (See E. Ludwig, Gespräche mit Masaryk (Amsterdam, 1935), p. 252.)Google Scholar
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    O. Strasser, Masaryk- Ein Führer zum neuen Europa (Zürich, 1938), p. 28.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    J. L. Hromádka, Don Quijote české filosifie: Emanuel Rádl 1873–1942 (New York, 1943), p. 92.Google Scholar
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    H. Heiber, Walter Frank und sein Reichsinstitut für Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands (Stuttgart, 1966); K. F. Werner, Das NS-Geschichtsbild und die deutsche Geschichtswissenscha[t JStuttgart, 1967).Google Scholar
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    Pekař, ‘O nový déjepis v Třetí říši’, ČČH, vol. 41 (1935), pp. 555–66.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    J. Pfitzner, ‘Die Geschichtsbetr:achtung der Tschechen und Deutschen in den Sudetenländern’, Historische Zeitschrift, vol. 146 (1932), pp. 71–85. Ibid., ‘Neue Wege der tschechischen Geschichtswissenschaft’, Historische Zeitschrift, vol. 153 (1936), pp. 514–37.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    J. Pachta, Pekař a pekařovština v českém dějepisectví (Brno, 1950).Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Pekař, Postavy a problémy českých dějin. Ed. and Introduction by F. Kutnar. See also P. Pavel, ‘Josef Pekař’, in Dějiny a současnost, nos. 8 and 9 (1968).Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    See note 10. Kutnar’s favourable treatment of Pekař was attackesJ by J. Haubelt, ‘O výkladu dějin českého a slovenského dějepisectví’, Čs ČH, vol. 6 (1979), pp. 907–15.Google Scholar

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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1990

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  • Milan Hauner

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