Title in original language: Česká inteligencia v procese budovania slovenskej vzdelanosti a kultúry
Author: Anna Zelenková
Title in English: Involvement of the Czech intelligentsia in the building of Slovak education and culture
Journal: Česko-slovenská historická ročenka 24, 2, 2022, pp. 29-41
Abstract: The study evaluates the role of the Czech intelligentsia in Slovakia in the interwar period. The Czech intelligentsia’s main contribution (apart from its work within the civil service) was the development of education at all levels. In this regard, attention has mostly focused on the founding of Comenius University by President T. G. Masaryk’s decree in July 1919. From a sociological point of view, the Czech intelligentsia operating in Slovakia can be divided into three groups: (1.) emotional supporters of Czechoslovak reciprocity drawing on the moral ideals of T. G. Masaryk (e.g. L. Narcis Zvěřina, J. Jirásek) and following up on the Czech Slovakophile movement; (2.) officials, artists, railway professionals, and gendarmes, who saw coming to Slovakia as a chance for social advancement, with young university graduates as a specific subgroup; (3.) speculative business people taking advantage of the underdeveloped Slovak market to get rich quickly, who were numerically the smallest of these three groups. The topos of the protectoral, profiteering Czech led to irritated reactions by the autonomist wing of Slovak nationalists, associated with Hlinka’s Slovak People’s Party (cf. M. Rázus’s 1929 novel Svety [Worlds]). Interesting information on the position of Czech university graduates in Slovakia can be gleaned from the letters of Frank Wollman, a Slavic languages specialist, who reflected on the problematic nature of Czech-Slovak cultural equalization. The Czech intelligentsia virtually disappeared from Slovakia in 1939 as a consequence of the political decisions made by the new Slovak government, and its “spiritual legacy” remains to this day a reminder of the positive contribution of Czechs to the constitution of Slovak national and state-forming identity.
Keywords: Slovak history 1918-1939, Czech-Slovak reciprocity, Comenius University in Bratislava, Czech intelligentsia in Slovakia and its typology, Slavic languages specialist Frank Wollman