Czechoslovak Exile After 1948: Activities, Problems and International Cooperation - A lecture by Martin Nekola

Monday, October 2, 2017

4:30 - 6:00pm

Franke Institute for the Humanities 

1100 East 57th Street 

Chicago, IL 60637

 

The exile after the coup in 1948 and the fate of Czechs abroad, who sought the return of freedom and democracy to their homeland, enslaved by the Communists, are an integral part of our modern history. However, this phenomenon is still neglected and the general public has only fragmentary information about it. Researchers are still unable to agree on the intensities of individual waves of emigration between 1948-1989. The most likely figure would be probably 250,000 people in total. The estimate of Czechoslovak State Security at the end of 1948 states 8614 refugees. Their first steps in the free world brought these people into the so-called displaced persons camps in Western occupation zones of Germany and Austria or in Italy. The first periodicals were published, the first seeds of political activity were born and later developed by numerous exile groups and entities. Almost seven dozens of newspapers, magazines and newsletters, and nearly one hundred ninety Czechs institutions, including political organizations, parties, academic clubs or think-tanks, operated in the free world after 1948. Despite the promising start and international support, the so called Council of Free Czechoslovakia, meant as the umbrella body for the entire exile, writhed in crisis, fell apart and reunited again, its members were wasting time with endless quarrels and were continuously losing the confidence of the exile public and their donors from the U.S. government. As time passed, the atmosphere in the exile changed, new topics, challenges and leaders raised. Dr. Nekola will discuss all aspects of the Czechoslovak Cold War exile (with a particular focus on the USA) in his contribution.

 

Martin Nekola received his doctorate in political science at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. His research is focused on non-democratic regimes, the era of Communism, Czech communities abroad and the East-European anti-communist exiles in the USA during the Cold War. He is the author of more than two hundred articles and has published eight books, the most recent of which are Petr Zenkl: Politik a clověk (Petr Zenkl: Politician and Man, 2014), Krvavé století (Bloody Century, 2015) and České Chicago (Czech Chicago, 2017). He spent three months as Fulbright postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in 2013.