The Literary Representation of the Czechoslovak ‘Legions’ in Russia

Robert B. Pynsent

in Czechoslovakia in a Nationalist and Fascist Europe, 1918–1948

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780197263914
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734359 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Literary Representation of the Czechoslovak ‘Legions’ in Russia

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This chapter focuses on the role of the legionaries in creating the state of Czechoslovakia. It shows how the legionaries and their activities, while often romanticised, dramatised and vulgarised, were awkwardly harnessed to the needs of the new establishment. They could be cast in the mould of earlier Czech heroics, especially those of the Hussite warriors; they regularly served as avengers of the great defeat on the White Mountain in 1620. Yet their deeds proved hard to reconcile with the peaceable and democratic traditions which many Czechs also prided themselves upon. The legionaries, especially those in Russia, were, according to the propaganda, meant to be pictures of moral idealism and a foundation stone in the creation of the Czechoslovak Republic. Indeed, the legions had made the liberation of the Czechoslovaks from Austria-Hungary possible. This chapter looks at some of the motifs of legionary literature, paying particular attention to the works of Josef Kopta and Rudolf Medek. It examines the portrayal of Jews, for the works of Medek and Kopta provide an exemplary crop of Czech inter-war anti-Semitism.

Keywords: Russia; legionaries; Czechoslovakia; legionary literature; Josef Kopta; Rudolf Medek; anti-Semitism; Jews; legions

Chapter.  12249 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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