I necessary to use the term of the

I chose the
topic of the essay because this problem affects us all and none of us realizes
that we share a certain perception of history. The fact that there is some collective
perception of history has occurred to me during the first presidential
elections five years ago. I was surprised how iniquity against Sudeten Germans
is still in the Czech subconscious. The Sudeten Germans are still perceived as
accomplices of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, therefore, many people
were not willing to vote a candidate for the president because of cancelling
the Beneš decrees.

In the next part of the essay, I
would like to present two studies of collective memory in the Czech lands. The
first one is by Ji?í Šubrt, who focuses on the perception of history at
different periods. Subsequently, in the next section, Dagmar Hájková focuses on
T.G. Masaryk and the formation of his place in the Czech “official”
memory.

Before I begin
to deal with the collective memories of the Czech nation, it is important to
put a question what the term “memory” means in history. Historian
Miroslav Hroch criticizes the use of the term collective memory, especially in
historical sciences. According to him, “memory” is a modern term that
is used thoughtlessly.

Hroch suggests
using “historical consciousness” or “awareness”.1
the collective memory represents some complete information of the past that has
been created in order to fit for our present.2
Collective 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 and
prejudices about the past.3
Historical consciousness contains on the one hand criticism as well as myths
and superstitions. Collective memory is just a selection of information, such
as short-term borrowing.4

Ji?í Šubrt
works with the term the collective memory similar to Hroch. He focused on the
Czech citizens and their perception of specific historical periods in research
in 2010. There were 39% of survey response who understand history as an
important part of the cultural heritage that must be handed down to the next
generation.5 It is also
important for them the picture of history which is connected with their
experience where they have personal contact and a connection with this. Šubrt
presents the concept of historical consciousness, as something non-static,
something that changes over the generations. This means that the socio-cultural
context has a great impact on history.6

This claim is
demonstrated in a comparative study of 3 different decades. From 1946, 1968 and
1989. During these periods, the question was asked of the respondents:
“Which period of Czech history do you consider the greatest?” In
1946, there were the greatest event the Hussite war and the period of Charles
IV. In 1968 the greatest historical event was the creating of Czechoslovak
Republic and in 1989, it was the liberation of Protectorate of Bohemia and
Moravia in 1945.7

It is important
to notice that people perceive and judge history in their context, emphasize
the phenomena or symbols that represent the ideal of the current time. This
fact was also reflected in the results of research from different three historical
periods. After the Second World War, Hussites have emphasized just as the power
of resistance and press for national interests. In 1968, the creating of the
Czechoslovak Republic reminded the people of democracy and freedom. And in 1989
the time of Charles IV. Which presents europanism, was getting into Czech
subconscious.

I would like to move from the
perception of history as a whole to particular historical person who has a
strong place in the collective memory of the Czech nations. In 2005 there was a
national poll The Greatest Czech broadcasted on Czech TV. Winner Charles IV.
(68,713 votes). Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (55,040 votes) was second. I would like
to concentrate more on Tomas G. Masaryk because he is still in our subconscious
closer than Charles IV.

Dagmar Hájková
presents why Masaryk became an icon of the Czechoslovak Republic. For the
Czechoslovak people, Masaryk was a warrior for the freedom of the nation.8
Masaryk himself was aware of the importance of iconography, he was a model for
many statues, paintings and photographs. Masaryk’s birthday was also included
in the complex of the First Republic rituals, which helped to shape and
reconstruct Czechoslovak state and identity.9
All important holidays in Czechoslovakia were associated with a person
president, who represented the success of Czechs and Slovaks in a fight for independence
in  World War I.

The largest
collective event of the First Czechoslovak Republic, according to Hájková, is
Masarak’s funeral. When the common grief helped to confirm the Czechoslovak
identity and at the same time created a new concept of the tradition of the
Czechoslovak state.1 However, this tradition was soon destroyed by the
beginning of communism. The construction of Masaryk’s myth began in the 50s.
When Masaryk was presented negatively as a representative of petty-bourgeois
nationalism in the public space. Nevertheless, Masaryk is part of our cultural
memory, representing a very strong place today.10

As we have
seen, collective memory is understood as a positive factor of national
integration.1 It is an intentional choice of information corresponded to time
and it is variable. How it has presented in the most important historical
period, their perception was distinguished from other periods. These changes
are given by cultural and social environment. Even the perception of Masaryk
was different in the First Republic than in Communist governments, and it is
perceived differently today. Although collective memory is a new term, it is
important for creating an identity, both for the individual an

1 Miroslav Hroch. „Pam?? a
historické 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?í
Šubrt, Martin Vávra. „Vztah ?ech? k národním d?jinám”, In. Ji?í Šubrt,
Ji?í Vinopal (eds.). Historické v?domí obyvatel ?eské republiky perspektivou
sociologického výzkumu. Praha: Karolinum, 2013. 99.

 

6 Ji?í
Vinotal, Ji?í Šubrt. „Charakteristiky historického v?domí”, In. Ji?í Šubrt,
Ji?í Vinopal (eds.). Historické v?domí obyvatel ?eské republiky perspektivou
sociologického výzkumu. Praha: Karolinum, 2013. 73.

7 The
survey had 1459 respondends.

8 Dagmar
Hájková. „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 Dagmar
Hájková. „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.