Əsas səhifə Slavic Review Acta Creations. Unabhangige Geschichtsschreibung in der Tschechoslowakei, 1969-1980.by Vilem Precan

Acta Creations. Unabhangige Geschichtsschreibung in der Tschechoslowakei, 1969-1980.by Vilem Precan

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Slavic Review
January, 1984
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Author(s): Milan Hauner
Review by: Milan Hauner
Source: Slavic Review, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Winter, 1984), pp. 708-709
Published by: Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2499349
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Slavic Review

The presentationof the biographicaldetailand the documentationof the changesin
the thinkingof the men who created"socialismwitha humanface" make forabsorbing
reading.One is remindedinevitablyof AleksandrSolzhenitsyn'swarningthatin a given
situationall of us will behave in similarways,and thatthe adult's confrontation
intolerantand oftenuninformed
enthusiasmsof his youthrequiresexceptionalpersonal
thebook leaves the readerwitha sense ofdisappointment:
we still
do not understandwhythe men who made 1968 were such "fools" in 1948. First,there
is no indicationthat the authorheld personal interviewswithany of his "heroes" who
came to the West. If he did not,he misseda splendidopportunity-unlessit was refused.
The reader can only note the absence of a certainpersonalsensitivity.
Second, thereis
no conceptual framework,eitherpolitico-cultural,
historical,or psychosocial.Zinner's
studyo; fthecoup in 1948coupledwithSkilling'smasterful
of 1968,forexample,
providesa challenging
startingpointforan analysisofpoliticalculture.Third,the author's
negativeviewsof communismand the communistsystemare intrusive.They preventhim
fromenteringinto the mind-setof individualswho for one reason or anothereagerly
embracedthe communistcoup and subsequentlyhad to come to gripswithand assume
for the catastropheit visitedon theircountry.To understandthat
some responsibility
journey,one would be betteradvised to read Czeslaw Milosz's classic The CaptiveMind,
AntoninLiehm's Troisgenerations,or Eugene Loebl's Conversations
on the
For its provisionof some fascinatingdocumentarymaterialand information
personal lives of the forgersof the Prague Spring,however,the book is veryvaluable.
The bibliographyalone is an importantcontribution.But the nature of the spiritual
metamorphosisof the heroes of 1968-if it was a metamorphosis-remainsa mystery.

SUNY Brockport

TSCHECHOSLOWAKEI, 1969-1980. Edited by Vilem Preeian.Presented to the
FifteenthInternationalCongressof HistoricalSciences in Bucharest,August 1980.
Hanover: Vil6m Precan, 1980. xxxix,252 pp.
This extraordinary
documentationmustprimarilybe seen as an act of civiliandefiance
on the part of the proscribedhistoriansinside Czechoslovakia,who challengethe grim
eradiOrwellianrealityin theircountrywherehistoricalevidenceis beingsystematically
cated bythestate-controlled
media. "Independenthistorians,"theeditorstates,are those
who "do not definetheirattitudein referenceto the regime,and neitherdo theyseek
withit. They much ratheravoid open polemics with the regimeand its
officialhistoriography.. . guided solelyby theirown judgment,by the requirementsof
theirprofession,by the logic of historicalwork,and by theirview as to whichquestions
of the past theyregardas urgently
requiringattention."This shouldbe commonsense in
all civilizedcountries-alas it is not in Czechoslovakia.
Much less would have been knownabroad about theseindependenthistorianshad it
of theirunofficial
notbeen forthe untiring
custodian,Vilem Precan, who, in 1976
facedwiththechoice of prisonor exile, chose the latter.He is the authorof the unrivaled
monumentalcollectionSlovenskendrodneporstanie.Dokumenty("Documents on the
Slovak National Uprising,"1966). In the aftermathof the Soviet invasionhe co-edited
Sedmpraiskychdnu,21.-27.8.1968. Dokumentace("The Seven Days of Prague," 1968),
knownin the English edition as the Czech Black Book (1969), a collectionof unique
testimoniesrelated to the tragicevent. Althoughhe lost his position as historianand
sufferedharassments,Precan continuedhis efforts.In 1975, whilestillin Czechoslovakia
and workingas a stoker,Precan appealed to the participantsof the FourteenthInterna-

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tionalCongressofHistoriansin San Francisco.His appeal was accompaniedby a booklet,
Acta Persecutionis,
containingan incompletelistof 145 historianswho had been purged
and dismissedfromtheiremploymentand whose books had been removedfrompublic
libraries.Three among them,Milan Hiubl,JaroslavMeznik, and Jan Tesar, were even
imprisoned.Two yearslater,whenCharter77 was launched,historiansstood again in the
In 1980,foranotherworldcongressof historiansin Bucharest,Precan preparedActa
Creationis.Eleven historiansfromsix countriesagreed to announcePrecan's new collectionat a pressconferencewhich,however,was thwartedat thelast minuteby the nervous
organizersof the congress.Acta Creationisconsistsof threeparts: an impressivebibliographyof over 180 titleswrittenby 90 independentCzech and Slovak historiansbut not
published;thisis followedby the main sectionof nine studiesselectedfroma samizdat
journal,Historickestudie,of whichtwelvevolumeshave been circulatingsince 1978. The
thirdpart consistsof two appendixes,printedhere in English: Precan's own description
and a tributeto Zdenek
of the plightof the Slovak ResistancehistorianJozefJablonicky,
Kalista on the occasion of his eightiethbirthdayby JaroslavOpat. The inclusionof the
distinguishedCzech historianKalista is importantbecause it marks the reconciliation
betweentwogenerationsofvictimsfromtwosubsequentwavesofpurges,the morebrutal
one followingthe communisttakeoverin 1948 (Kalista was sentencedto 15 years' imprisonment)and the more recentone which,thoughrefinedand accompanied by less
physicalviolence,has resultedin a more systematicannihilationof nonconformism.

of Wisconsin-Madison

1814-1815. By Enno E. Kraehe. Princeton,N.J.: PrincetonUniversityPress, 1983.
xv,443 pp. Maps. $45.00, cloth. $18.50, paper.
This volume,like the first,is both a model of scholarshipand a connoisseur'sdelight.Its
are a boon to scholarsof early
pages of bibliographyand carefulfootnoting
is an example of fine
diplomacy,and its rhetoricalcraftsmanship
as a "self-consciousemKraehe describesand exemplifiesmicrohistory
piricismthatseeks to relate the eventsof a period, physicaland mental,to each other
ratherthanto normsimportedfromafar."
preocSeekingto avoid the prejudicesof past studies"dominatedby contemporary
cupationsof variouskinds,"thisstudyof Metternich'sGermanpolicyat the Congressof
Vienna arrivesat a numberof provocativeinsights.Gone are the ancient overstated
generalitiesabout Metternich'sattemptsto stifleGermanunityand his quest fora unique
balance of power.Kraehe concludesratherthatClemens von Metternich,farmore than
Prussia's Prince Karl von Hardenberg,"must be counted as the leading champion of
Germanunityat the congress"and thatbalance of power is "not a markof an age or a
to thisformerrevisionist
student,Kraehe largelyabandons
social order."More surprising
a projectedfocuson Metternich'sstrugglewithTsar Alexander,statingthatMetternich's
plans for the German Confederationprevailedbecause of the "relative quiescence of
Great Britainand Russia, neitherof whichhad muchinterestin more than a defensive
league in CentralEurope servingto containFrance."
As Kraehe sees it, thereal strugglethatemergedover Germanyduringthe Congress
was betweenPrussia and Austria. "If the bedrockof [Metternich's]German policywas
the preservationof the formerRhinelandregimes,the reasons were rooted in considerations of foreignpolicy,in particularhis beliefthat the weakeningof existingregimes
would createvoids thatonlyPrussiawas in a positionto fill."Thus Metternich'sGerman
policyat the Congressof Vienna consistedchieflyin buildingconsensusto avoid whathe

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