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Czechoslovakia in a Nationalist and Fascist Europe, 1918–1948$
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Mark Cornwall and R J W Evans

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263914

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263914.001.0001

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The Literary Representation of the Czechoslovak ‘Legions’ in Russia

The Literary Representation of the Czechoslovak ‘Legions’ in Russia

(p.62) (p.63) 5 The Literary Representation of the Czechoslovak ‘Legions’ in Russia
Czechoslovakia in a Nationalist and Fascist Europe, 1918–1948

Robert B. Pynsent

British Academy

This chapter focuses on the role of the legionaries in creating the state of Czechoslovakia. It shows how the legionaries and their activities, while often romanticised, dramatised and vulgarised, were awkwardly harnessed to the needs of the new establishment. They could be cast in the mould of earlier Czech heroics, especially those of the Hussite warriors; they regularly served as avengers of the great defeat on the White Mountain in 1620. Yet their deeds proved hard to reconcile with the peaceable and democratic traditions which many Czechs also prided themselves upon. The legionaries, especially those in Russia, were, according to the propaganda, meant to be pictures of moral idealism and a foundation stone in the creation of the Czechoslovak Republic. Indeed, the legions had made the liberation of the Czechoslovaks from Austria-Hungary possible. This chapter looks at some of the motifs of legionary literature, paying particular attention to the works of Josef Kopta and Rudolf Medek. It examines the portrayal of Jews, for the works of Medek and Kopta provide an exemplary crop of Czech inter-war anti-Semitism.

Keywords:   Russia, legionaries, Czechoslovakia, legionary literature, Josef Kopta, Rudolf Medek, anti-Semitism, Jews, legions

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