[ENG, Czech version below] As for other members of our team, research stays in the field are part of Karin’s work. We usually go to two countries for longer periods of time. For Karin, it is northern Bohemia and central Slovakia, two regions where the German past is still palpable. The field stays are intense, but at the same time often lonely. Ethnographers write down not only what they find out but also their feelings and experiences. To get you familiar with this particular experience, this time we present an excerpt from Karin’s diary from her second stay in central Slovakia. One Saturday in October, she went to Hadviga, originally a large village where mostly German Slovaks used to live, but which after the war became depopulated. Today, there are only a few summer cottages. Karin traveled with E., whom she had met in Hadviga already in the summer.
Ignorovaná pamäť Slovenského národného povstania: marginalizácia násilia voči nemeckému civilnému obyvateľstvu a jej dôsledky
[ENG, Slovak version below] After the Warsaw Uprising, the Slovak National Uprising was the largest anti-Nazi insurrection in Central Europe. It is a crucial event in Slovak modern history as well as in the country’s culture of remembrance regarding WWII. As such it has its own museum and central memorial in Banská Bystrica, the center of the anti-Nazi resistance during the uprising. Even though the insurrection was suppressed in less than two months, it helped the Allies in the fight against Nazi Germany. Its significance on a moral and political level was central: part of the Slovak nation rose up against the authoritative regime of the First Slovak Republic, a client state of Nazi Germany, in order to restore democracy. However, it also has its negative aspects, such as the treatment of the German civilian population by the partisans. The most tragic event in this regard took place in the predominantly German village of Sklené / Glaserhau. On 21 September 1944, under the pretext of digging trenches, the partisans took about 300 men between 16 and 60 years of age from the village and shot 187 of them at the edge of a nearby forest. In 1994, 50 years later, a monument of the Sklené massacre was established on the mass grave of its victims. Nevertheless, as the historical narrative presented in the current exhibition in the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising shows, the memory of the violence against the German civilian population is being marginalized. This process enables far-right groups and political parties glorifying the First Slovak Republic to take over the memory of murdered Germans and in doing so also instrumentalize the narrative of the whole uprising.
„Lubię się przyglądać miejscu swojego urodzenia, mam poczucie jego wyjątkowości i chętnie tam wracam. To osobliwa kraina. Zza jej pleców chichocze historia”.
Cezary Łazarewicz, Tu mówi Polska. Reportaże z Pomorza, Wołowiec 2017, s. 6
[ENG, Czech version below] After German-speaking inhabitants were expelled in 1946 from many regions of what is currently the Czech Republic, the material reminders of German culture were also to disappear. Karina Hoření, our team member who conducts ethnographic research in northern Bohemia, illustrates in her blogpost that reminders of German culture can still be found in Czech towns and villages. One of these reminders are German inscriptions on houses, which drew visitors‘ attention to shops or services that no longer exist. Such inscriptions fit into our research framework of hauntology because they are reminders of a traumatic past that was supposed to disappear.
O cmentarzach „poniemieckich” i (nie)pamięci historycznej „Ziem Odzyskanych”.
After the so-called “Recovered Territories”, i.e. lands that were formerly German, became a part of the newly established Polish state in the aftermath of World War II the traces of the previous German culture had to be removed or recycled in a way fitting the new Polish historical narrative. Within this context, Michal Korhel provides an overview of how Polish authorities as well as the new population of the “Recovered Territories“ treated the formerly German cemeteries in Western Pomerania in Goleniów / Gollnow and surroundings. Were they destroyed or preserved? What do those places look like nowadays? He is especially interested in what happened to the German gravestones of the cemeteries located in the region.
[ENG, Polish version below] To what extent are the works of art created before the radical change in 1945 still valid categories of description for the landscape of contemporary Polish-Czech borderlands? Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska explores the possibilities of mutual commentary provided by the photos taken during her recent fieldwork and fragments of one of the plays by Gerhard Hauptmann, an obscure German author who used to live in Lower Silesia.
Proč (někteří) Češi nemají rádi Sudety
[ENG, Czech below] Based on two examples from the contemporary public debate, Karina Hoření describes why some Czechs avoid the term “Sudety” and why this term carries negative connotations in Czech language. The first example refers to a lookout tower on the Czech-Polish border in the Orlické Mountains and differences between Polish and Czech conceptualizations of the term. The aforementioned tower stood on the top of Vrchmezí / Orlica as early as in the 19th century, when this area was a part of Prussia. Currently, the lookout was restored and in the vicinity of a new tower, an information board with bilingual sign was put. While in Polish, it informs that the original lookout tower stood in the “Sudety”, the Czech translation uses more scientific term “Krkonošsko-jesenická subprovincie”. Then, Karin exemplifies a range of emotions the term “Sudety” carries in Czech language. The second example comes from a Facebook discussion on the page of a liquor store that sells apple schnapps under the name of “Sudeten Schnaps”. Many of the discussants find this name inappropriate: for them the “Sudety” are clearly associated with Nazism. For many people, the history of 1938, when the First Czechoslovak Republic was divided by the Third Reich, still overlays any other meanings of the word “Sudety” and is highly emotionally charged. Within the project we propose to look beyond the common identification of “Sudety” with a particular point in Czech history, i.e. Munich agreement, and to look at the particular cultures that emerged there post-1945.