The World of the Editor - Culture of our compatriots and the National Museum
Since my editorial in the last double issue 5-6 and 7-8, where I raved about our compatriot conferences, I have not been able to tear myself away from that subject. After all there has been so much happening! A conference called Our Compatriots and Culture opened in Prague on Sept. 6, and after 3 days was followed by a festival.
Lectures in the assembly hall of the new building of the National Museum brought back memories of the early nineties. I could say that I had actually spent several years of my life in that building, headquarters of the former National Assembly. At that time, the journalists had at their disposal their own large room right above the assembly hall with a balcony from which they could watch and hear what was going on. In the room there were typewriters, telephones and fax machines for us to use. Since at that time I had no office, and I was so interested in what our lawmakers were doing, I spent there a considerable length of time. The above mentioned were at that time friendly and kind to us, the journalists. They were willing to give interviews, and at lunchtime they even sat with us in the common cafeteria where we paid 19 crowns for a meal and a small beer 2,50 crowns. I had interviews with just about anyone, but I best remember the young girls Jana Petrova and Klára Samkova, now Vesela, who tried hard to do some good in our politics. Whether they were successful or not, is certainly not their fault.The crooks in our politics simply have sharper elbows. So why don’t we have more women in our politics? The reason is that they are usually not as callous as some of the men.
In December of 1992 the era of that national Assembly came to an end. Because the head politicians of that time Klaus a Mečiar decided that our 2 nations united by T. G. Masaryk in 1918 should again be split. (Despite a great number of signatures on a petition, protesting against it.) However, that should not be my issue, but rather a matter for historians, eventually for the Institute for current history and the Institute for the studies of totalitarian regimes.
Neither one has so far expressed an opinion, perhaps at the 20th anniversary in 2013?
Let’s get back to our compatriot happenings. They were amazing, as always when people display their talents, sincerity and joy of life, So on the 6th and 7th of September, those former parliament benches mentioned were filled with people, willing to listen to others telling them about what’s happening in their countries and what it has in common with our country. There was Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, Sweden, USA, etc. – Their representatives informed us about their cultural activities. What really enticed me were the stories about Romanian BENAUT and I cried out that I’d go there in the fall. Hearing that, Jaroslav Trombik who sat next to me, a former veterinarian, now retired, living in New Zealand reached for his wallet, took out some money for my travel expenses and said, “Go there and write a report about it”
Yes I’d love that! Some people reproach me for writing too much about America, and that I give it precedence. That hurts me – I love the Czech Republic, Moravia, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Canary Islands where my daughter lives, the USA, Canada, Australia, and the whole wide world! However, it’s not in the power and time span of a little person like me to visit all that and report about it, even though I’d love to do just that. As far as America is concerned I always say, ‘ anybody who hasn’t seen it, can say nothing about it. It’s such a great phenomenon, that you must see it, hear it, experience it, and meet with it “ As you can see, I can write only about where I actually go…and I really look forward to Banat.
The following days belonged to songs and dancing that those amazing groups brought to Prague from Croatia, the Ukraine and other states.
The National Czech & Slovak
Museum & Library unveils
immigrant interviews at the
Sept. 30, 2010
Oral History Project Brings Stories of
D.C. Slovaks and Czechs into Focus
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Hundreds of thousands of Slovaks and Czechs fled their homeland during the communist era, many risking their lives in the process. Their stories, about why and how they emigrated, are sometimes dramatic, sometimes tragic, and are essential to our understanding of the events that shaped the 20th Century.
Thursday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m., the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, under the auspices of the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic H. E. Peter Burian and the Slovakia Meetup Group, will present video footage from a major two-year oral history project, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the country.
The project, which has a national scope, captures and preserves the stories of Czechs and Slovaks who left their homeland during the Cold War and settled in Chicago, Cleveland and Washington D.C. The project’s website (http://www.ncsml.org/Content/Oral-Histories.aspx) shows video extracts from interviews, photos and biographies of Slovaks and Czechs who began a new life in the United States.
“Recording Voices & Documenting Memories of Czech & Slovak Americans” has been made possible thanks to a grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and in cooperation with the Office of Slovaks Living Abroad, the Slovak Institute in Cleveland, the Czech Consulate in Chicago and the Chicago chapter of SVU.
Full length interviews are available for further research at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. For more information call 319-362-8500 or via email: info@NCSML.org.
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is the foremost institution in the United States preserving and interpreting Czech & Slovak history and culture. It is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.www.NCSML.org
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