Birth of Czechoslovakia and celebrations of its anniversaries


The on-line collection called BIRTH OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND CELEBRATIONS OF ITS ANNIVERSARIES contains footage from the revolutionary days of October and November 1918 as well as coverage reflecting the extraordinary importance of these events for political and social life of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Five out of the total of 18 segments offer authentic and immediate recordings showing the birth of the Republic and the resulting changes. The first event of general importance preceding the revolutionary processes recorded on cameras was the fiftieth ground-breaking ceremony for the National Theatre, held in Prague between 16 and 18 May 1918. Images document participation of all Slavic nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and presence of distinguished cultural and political figures of the nation. Film footage from the revolutionary ferment of 28 October 1918 and its aftermath presents individual events in an authentic manner of unedited footage, often ignoring their chronology. Images include festively decorated Prague places and venues, large squares and streets filled with crowds of people, public gatherings and, of course, also figures who initiated the events and influenced the course of history. The unfolding events are illustrated through images from manifestations and parades on Wenceslas Square and Old-Town Square, glimpses of railway carriages with Czech politicians and soldiers coming back from the front; film footage from a manifestation in front of the building of the Czech Escompt Bank (Böhmische Escompte- Bank); the official proclamation of Czechoslovakia in front of the Municipal House on Republic Square; and gatherings in the third courtyard of Prague Castle, Slavonic Island and in front of the newly established Military Headquarters. Cameras capture the faces of politicians Karel Kramář, Gustav Habrman and Václav Klofáč on their return from Geneva negotiations on 4 November 1918; footage from a public gathering to mark the 298th anniversary of the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1918; and the eagerly anticipated arrival of President T.G. Masaryk in the Main Railway Station on 21 December 1918 and his first visit to the National Theatre on 22 December 1918 on the occasion of the performance of Smetana’s opera Libuše. The second part consists of a selection of news segments from celebrations of the birth of the Czech Republic in the following years. Events linked to this date are represented through an unedited film footage from an official visit of the sixteen-member military delegation from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca) in the Czechoslovak Republic to mark the first anniversary of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The delegation, which arrived on 26 October 1919, was held by Serbian General Stevan Hadžić. The following footage shows a manifestation in Uzhgorod in November 1919, following the General Statue that declared Subcarpathian Ruthenia as an autonomous part of Czechoslovakia. The following segments concern celebrations of the birth of the Czechoslovak Republic. They include images from the fifth anniversary of the Czechoslovak Republic held by the Statue of St. Wenceslaus in Prague on 28 October 1923. Another segment captures the unveiling of the memorial statue to French historian and Slavonic scholar Ernst Denis on Lesser Town Square held to mark the tenth anniversary of Czechoslovakia on the eve of the national holiday of 27 October 1928, attended by a large number of distinguished figures of political life, including President of Czechoslovakia T.G. Masaryk and representatives of the French diplomatic corps. The 1930 celebrations are represented through a segment from a military parade of newly recruited soldiers in the third courtyard of Prague Castle. The importance attributed to celebrations of the birth of Czechoslovakia is also illustrated with a news segment from a military ceremony, held in Bratislava on 28 October 1931 and attended by the 39 th Infantry Regiment of General Graziani and 54th Artillery Regiment, and two reports from gatherings in front of the Municipal House and on Old-Town Square on 28 October 1932. Celebrations of the fifteenth anniversary of Czechoslovakia are depicted in a special edition of Elektajournal from 1933, containing not only archival footage but also footage from the celebration on Wenceslas Square. Regional news reporting is represented by a segment from the same year´s anniversary celebrations in Mladá Boleslav and Kosmonosy. The collection ends with a speech by President Edvard Beneš to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Czechoslovakia delivered in English from his London exile in 1943.

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