I chose thetopic of the essay because this problem affects us all and none of us realizesthat we share a certain perception of history. The fact that there is some collectiveperception of history has occurred to me during the first presidentialelections five years ago. I was surprised how iniquity against Sudeten Germansis still in the Czech subconscious. The Sudeten Germans are still perceived asaccomplices of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, therefore, many peoplewere not willing to vote a candidate for the president because of cancellingthe Beneš decrees.In the next part of the essay, Iwould like to present two studies of collective memory in the Czech lands. Thefirst one is by Ji?í Šubrt, who focuses on the perception of history atdifferent periods. Subsequently, in the next section, Dagmar Hájková focuses onT.
G. Masaryk and the formation of his place in the Czech “official”memory.Before I beginto deal with the collective memories of the Czech nation, it is important toput a question what the term “memory” means in history. HistorianMiroslav Hroch criticizes the use of the term collective memory, especially inhistorical sciences.
According to him, “memory” is a modern term thatis used thoughtlessly.Hroch suggestsusing “historical consciousness” or “awareness”.1the collective memory represents some complete information of the past that hasbeen created in order to fit for our present.2Collective memory is thus the result of an intentional choice, not spontaneity.Therefore, it is necessary to use the term of the historical consciousness,because the historical consciousness is a sum of all ideas, knowledge andprejudices about the past.
3Historical consciousness contains on the one hand criticism as well as mythsand superstitions. Collective memory is just a selection of information, suchas short-term borrowing.4Ji?í Šubrtworks with the term the collective memory similar to Hroch. He focused on theCzech citizens and their perception of specific historical periods in researchin 2010. There were 39% of survey response who understand history as animportant part of the cultural heritage that must be handed down to the nextgeneration.
5 It is alsoimportant for them the picture of history which is connected with theirexperience where they have personal contact and a connection with this. Šubrtpresents the concept of historical consciousness, as something non-static,something that changes over the generations. This means that the socio-culturalcontext has a great impact on history.6This claim isdemonstrated in a comparative study of 3 different decades. From 1946, 1968 and1989.
During these periods, the question was asked of the respondents:”Which period of Czech history do you consider the greatest?” In1946, there were the greatest event the Hussite war and the period of CharlesIV. In 1968 the greatest historical event was the creating of CzechoslovakRepublic and in 1989, it was the liberation of Protectorate of Bohemia andMoravia in 1945.7It is importantto notice that people perceive and judge history in their context, emphasizethe phenomena or symbols that represent the ideal of the current time. Thisfact was also reflected in the results of research from different three historicalperiods. After the Second World War, Hussites have emphasized just as the powerof resistance and press for national interests. In 1968, the creating of theCzechoslovak Republic reminded the people of democracy and freedom. And in 1989the time of Charles IV. Which presents europanism, was getting into Czechsubconscious.
I would like to move from theperception of history as a whole to particular historical person who has astrong place in the collective memory of the Czech nations. In 2005 there was anational poll The Greatest Czech broadcasted on Czech TV. Winner Charles IV.(68,713 votes). Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (55,040 votes) was second. I would liketo concentrate more on Tomas G.
Masaryk because he is still in our subconsciouscloser than Charles IV.Dagmar Hájkovápresents why Masaryk became an icon of the Czechoslovak Republic. For theCzechoslovak people, Masaryk was a warrior for the freedom of the nation.8Masaryk himself was aware of the importance of iconography, he was a model formany statues, paintings and photographs. Masaryk’s birthday was also includedin the complex of the First Republic rituals, which helped to shape andreconstruct Czechoslovak state and identity.9All important holidays in Czechoslovakia were associated with a personpresident, who represented the success of Czechs and Slovaks in a fight for independencein World War I.
The largestcollective event of the First Czechoslovak Republic, according to Hájková, isMasarak’s funeral. When the common grief helped to confirm the Czechoslovakidentity and at the same time created a new concept of the tradition of theCzechoslovak state.1 However, this tradition was soon destroyed by thebeginning of communism. The construction of Masaryk’s myth began in the 50s.When Masaryk was presented negatively as a representative of petty-bourgeoisnationalism in the public space. Nevertheless, Masaryk is part of our culturalmemory, representing a very strong place today.10As we haveseen, collective memory is understood as a positive factor of nationalintegration.
1 It is an intentional choice of information corresponded to timeand it is variable. How it has presented in the most important historicalperiod, their perception was distinguished from other periods. These changesare given by cultural and social environment. Even the perception of Masarykwas different in the First Republic than in Communist governments, and it isperceived differently today. Although collective memory is a new term, it isimportant for creating an identity, both for the individual an1 Miroslav Hroch. „Pam?? ahistorické v?domí v kontextu národní pospolitosti”, In. Radka Šustrová,Luba Hédlová (eds.
) ?eská pam??: Národ, d?jiny a místa pam?ti. Praha:Academia, 2014.2 Ibid, 22.3 Ibid, 37.4 Ibid, 40.5 Stanislav Hampl, Ji?íŠubrt, Martin Vávra. „Vztah ?ech? k národním d?jinám”, In.
Ji?í Šubrt,Ji?í Vinopal (eds.). Historické v?domí obyvatel ?eské republiky perspektivousociologického výzkumu. Praha: Karolinum, 2013. 99. 6 Ji?íVinotal, Ji?í Šubrt. „Charakteristiky historického v?domí”, In. Ji?í Šubrt,Ji?í Vinopal (eds.
). Historické v?domí obyvatel ?eské republiky perspektivousociologického výzkumu. Praha: Karolinum, 2013. 73.7 Thesurvey had 1459 respondends.8 DagmarHájková. „T.G.
Masaryk: Prvorepublikové utvá?ení jeho místa v ?eské„oficiální” pam?ti” In. Radka Šustrová, Luba Hédlová (eds.) ?eská pam??: Národ, d?jiny a místa pam?ti. Praha: Academia, 2004.168.9 Ibid, 177.10 DagmarHájková.
„T.G. Masaryk: Prvorepublikové utvá?ení jeho místa v ?eské„oficiální” pam?ti” In.
Radka Šustrová, Luba Hédlová (eds.) ?eská pam??: Národ, d?jiny a místa pam?ti. Praha: Academia, 2004.186.