The year 2018 calls upon us to revisit the iconic moments of Czechoslovak history of 20th century, which we can designate as the Momentous “8” : The national independence and formation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the Munich Agreement of 1938 allowing Nazi Germany the annexation of the “Sudetenland” and subsequently the occupation of the whole country, the seizing of complete power by the Communist Party in 1948, the world-wide observed crushing of the “Prague Spring” in 1968 and, finally, the “Velvet Revolution” of 1988/89 – all of these historical dates not only carry an almost emblematic significance in the national context but indicate turning points for European history.
This European dimension might be especially visible for the year1918 witnessing the end of the Hapsburg Empire which was tantamount to a fundamental restructuring of European power constellations and not any less for the events of 1968 which fundamentally changed European societies, but entailed different messages and underwent quite diverging perceptions in East and West. As Milan Kundera once nicely put it, the 1968 protests in Paris were regarded as the enthralling outbreak of “revolutionary lyricism,” while Prague Spring – simultaneously, yet reversely – signalled the onset of “post-revolutionary skepticism.”
The 50th and 100th anniversaries of both historical caesuras and the spell of the momentous “8” invite us to rethink the “Philosophy of Czech History” which Jan Patočka considered as a unique phenomenon in European historiography of fascinating quality. In this spirit, the IWM hosted a workshop entitled The Momentous “8”: Rethinking the “Philosophy of Czech History” from March 8-9, 2018.
The conference, conceptualized by IWM Permanent Fellow Ludger Hagedorn and organized within a program that is supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brought together leading international experts on Central European history. www.iwm.at
Photo: © IWM