Czechoslovakia became independent after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918 when the WW1 finished.
It used to be an independent kingdom of Bohemia but despite still keeping the name, it was ruled by the Austrians since 1620.
Czechoslovakia after 1918 was a prosperous democratic republic.
Prague had a long history of Jewish inhabitants, and the Old New Synagogue in Prague , built 1270 is the oldest active synagogue in Europe. Prague was a cosmopolitan city with the often-bilingual Czech, Jewish and German intellectuals living together. There was a large German minority, in the country since 11th century. The Jewish population was very assimilated, and to a large extent secular. Comparing to many other Central European countries, anti-Semitism was relatively rare.
My novel starts in 1938 and covers 1938-2006 in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, UK, USA and partly Israel and Grenada.
In September 1938, in Munich agreement Britain, France, Italy and Germany changed the border by accepting Hitler’s demands to annex the Czechoslovak border regions with the majority of Ethnic Germans to Germany. This was an appeasement strategy meant to preserve “ A peace in our time”- quote from Neville Chamberlain, British prime minister. This was meant to be the last Hitler’s territorial demand .
Of course, the peace didn’t last long.
On 15th March 1939, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia, and the Slovak part of the country split, forming independent and fascist Slovakia.
For the Jews, the situation became gradually worse, starting with discriminatory laws, later leading to deportations and killings.
After the war, there was a short time of return to democracy, and re-joining of Czech speaking part and Slovakia. The communist party was very successful in the post-war elections, still within the democratic parliamentarian democracy, but in 1948, there was a communist putsch supported by Stalin, and Czechoslovakia joined the Soviet bloc.
In 1952, 13 high-ranking Communist bureaucrats (10 of whom were Jews) were arrested and charged with being Titoists and Zionists. Many were executed.
In the sixties, there was a gradual democratisation of the society, the censorship was relaxed, and in 1968, there was an attempt to change the system. They were still speaking about socialism, “Socialism with a human face”. Reforming communism didn’t work.
On 21st August 1968, Soviet and other armies from the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia, followed by a return to totalitarian state oppression.
The Velvet Revolution changed the country to a democracy again.
The Federal Czechoslovakia split into Czech and Slovak republic.
Both countries joined the European Union
6 thoughts on “A very simple summary of the historical background of my novel.”
Thank you. Lots of change. Looking forward to your publication.
28th September. Thank you!
A very interesting issue: those who emigrated and those who stayed behind. I love reading Leonardo Padura, a Cuban writer who writes very interesting novels about a very similar issues. Those who emigrated and those who stayed behind in Cuba after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1990 (Como Polvo en el Viento) and many other interesting books. Although there were no concentration camps in Cuba life was hard during those times.
Who are you? LOL
We have a very sizable Czech population in my area of Nebraska. There is a Slovak community in the Omaha area, too. So their cultures are somewhat familiar to me.
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Thanks for the quick background. I visited what was still Czechoslovakia in 1991, and I’ve never forgotten it. I hope to visit again. Good luck with your book. It won’t be long! ♥