What's the relation between the USA and the Czech Republic.

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Nele, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. Nele

    Nele New Member

    Hey everyone,

    I'm from Belgium where I study czech.
    We have to make a work and tell what the relation is between the USA and the Czech Republic. But it's really hard to find good sources and everything so I thought that this forum could help me...
    In history did anything special happened between those 2 countries?
    What do the Americans think about the czechs and vice versa?
    Maybe influences from the Americans on the czechs?

    I'd really appreciate any help!

  2. maartenv

    maartenv Well-Known Member

    Well, first of all good luck with your paper!

    There are many things the in wich the USA and the Czech Republic have a history. First of all, Americans are all emigrants (exept some indian native inhabitants) who moved there the last few hundered years. Many of them have a Czech origin.

    The other thing that pops up in my head is the World War II. Perhaps it's interesting to find out what happened at the end of WWII at a convention where the Allied Forces (including America) gave away the Czech Republic to the Russians.

    For the rest I don't know of anything else what would directly connect the two countries in a special way.
  3. ondrejana

    ondrejana Well-Known Member

    In addition to what Martin has told you, don't forget about how instrumental former President Woodrow Wilson was in 1918, working together with Masaryk, in instating Czechoslovakia to become its own independent country.

    Then there is what Martin has said, in that we basically gave the former CSSR over to be invaded and occupied by Hitler and the Germans. He 'lied' and said that he only wanted to reunite Sudentenland, but then quickly took over control.

    I don't know how much help this will be, but just some cuds for you to chew on...

    Have a great learning experience in the country where folks eat fries dipped in mayonnaise!

    PS Writing from the hospital at 0539
  4. racoon

    racoon Active Member

    Look at this address http://www.sokolcanada.org/html/canada/index_ca.htm
    there are contacts to Sokol USA, it could be a good source of informations, may be the best, sokols ( members of Sokol ) are proud Czechs and american sokols know history of Czech and USA very well.

    Sokol was founded on February 16, 1862 in Prague. The Sokol idea spread quickly through the Czech lands until, following the Second World War, it attained a membership exceeding one million.

    American Sokol Organization
    The first Sokol unit in the United States was established on February 14, 1865 in St. Louis, Mo. Others followed in Chicago (1866), New York (1867), Morrisania (1869), Cleveland (1870); other cities and towns followed until there were 120 Sokol units.
    In 1879 the then existing Sokol units formed the "National Sokol Union", in 1897 another central organization, the "Fügner-Tyrs Sokol District" came into being. In 1917 both organizations merged and formed the present American Sokol Organization.
    Sokol USA (Slovak Gymnastic Union Sokol of the U.S.A.)
    The first Sokol unit of this organization was established in 1892 in Chicago. Four years later the national organization was founded which, in addition to the usual Sokol activities, is also a fraternal and benevolent insurance association.
  5. wesley

    wesley Member

    Hello Nele,
    Each year, maybe on liberation day, I don't know for sure, Plzen lines the street with with American flags to celebrate the American Army's liberation of the town. I believe that's as far as they were allowed -- at the end of the war it was a race by Americans to liberate, and Russians to grab, as much territory as possible. If the American had gotten to Prague first, maybe CZ would have been free in 1045 instead of having to wait until 1989. My uncle did a little espionage on the Russians in the Russian sector because he spoke Czech (he was 2nd generation). I believe Plzen also has a monument to the event, maybe it's Prague, I can't remember where it is. It's very stirring to see somebody grateful to the US for a change.

    Czechs have come to America (and forgive my use of that term to mean only those from the US -- don't tell your Canadian friends!) in waves. The first came in the late 1800s, then pre-WWI (when my grandparents came over)-- all this was toward the end of the Austrian Empire period. I assume another wave came between the wars, before the Nazis clamped down. After WWII and before the Commies shut down the borders, many came over to escape what they saw coming, and to be reunited with relatives they hadn’t seen for many years,. I have pathetic letters to a relative begging for money and telling of the cruelty of the Commies, the lack of food, imprisonment for being unable to make quota, and sickness.

    Anyway, the Czechs and Slovaks naturally gravitated to land and industries they were used to: Farming land in the midwest (Kansas, Nebraska, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I'm from), meat-packing cities (Chicago), and ranch and farm land in Texas. Texas probably has the largest group. I believe the most recent wave, since the fall of Communism has settled in Florida of all places.

    The early Czechs tried to assimilate as quickly and thoroughly as possible. The jews Americanized their names to avoid what they feared might be oppression as bad as in Europe. They changed their names. Vaclav became Wesley. Kobylak became Koby, Worhola became Worhol – probably the most famous Czech American. The little enclave of Czechs in Cedar Rapids was called Bohemie Town. It’s narrow street thrived with Czech life, taverns, restaurants, bakeries, butcher shops. Now only 2 of the original places are left. A bit hideously, the only restaurant there now is German! At the end of the street is a large, new museum. I find that a sad mosoleum to a dead neighborhood. (Although the size and quality of the museum is a testament to the wealth and success of Czech immigrants). The area is now called “Czech Village” because “Bohemie” is supposedly not politically correct. Twice a year they have Czech celebrations and the tourists flock in to take pictures and buy trinkets. Terrible.

    But, there is hope. The new Czech Americans are keeping their heritage alive. Their children speak the language. They know who they are. They’ll never have to rediscover it the way I had to. Also, the general interest in tracing one’s roots has led many to delve into their family tree more seriously, learn details about their Czech ancestory, and to visit “the old sod”, where Prague and Cesky Krumlov take their breath away and revitalize their pride. Finally, the internet is bringing many of us together. Chat rooms like this, for instance. And, I buy my jaternice (pork sausage made with what you really don’t want to know about) from Kansas, my jelita (blood and barley sausage) Chicago, and my kolaces (pastry with poppy seed filling) from Iowa. Oddly, they all taste better than what you can get in CZ. Most of Czech culture in America is pre-1948, much of it pre-1917. The recipes are old and traditional. Polka is much bigger in America than CZ; there is even polka-rock! The little language that was handed down is very old to modern Czech ears. (Much the way Americans in the Apalachian region speak a very old – but proper – form of English, using contractions like ain’t, taint, theren’t.) The one phrase my father taught me – good Bohemie man – was “Give me a kiss.” I clung to this for decades. When my son went over on student exchange, I asked him to see if my memory was correct. Once he learned the language, he was able to clean up my childhood pronunciation, and “give me” came through loud and clear. But the word for kiss was “little mushroom”. That made no sense, no matter how he reworked the pronunciation, it stayed “little mushroom”. I was very disappointed; as if’d I lost a connection with my father. But then my son asked some old people. It was a very old expression indeed, one my father had learned when he was very young, from Austrian-Empire era Czechs. And the idiom made perfect sense: the next time you hold a boleus mushroom, close your eyes and give it a little kiss: a young woman’s lips!

    Nele, are you still awake, still reading? I’m afraid there’s more.

    Oddly -- and this may get you an A on your paper--there is a new, reverse migration of Americans to the Czech Republic. There is a great need for native speakers of English to teach the now-universal language (pardon, le francais) to a nation entering the EU. This has brought an influx of Americans to the country, some seeking to explore their Czech roots (which is what I'm hoping to do in a few months), some -- unfortunately -- are young American male "slackers" seeking an easy life where the women are beautiful, the beer is cheaper than water, and the dope laws are less enforced. Others, like my son go and fall in love with the country and want to stay (he's studying at the university in Plzen). So, a marvelous full circle of events in Czech migration!

    Here are a few links for you; each link will have more.
    National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:
    A huge list of links from the above site:
    A list of Czech celebration events in USA and else where:

    This next web site will surely put a " +++ " on your A paper:
    http://www.cechomor.cz --Click on “English Version”
    Let me explain this very odd, very wonderful connection between America and the Czechs: During Communism, the Czechs did anything they could to keep their pride and independence. Any symbol of freedom was treasured. Some Czechs discovered the freedom that was symbolized by American hobos and tramps -- a group that sprung up during the Great Depression of the 1930s from men traveling the country looking for work anywhere they could find it, following any rumor of work, riding the rails (railroad cars), across the country, up and down, all over, dodging the police and railroad bullies, cooking "Mulligan Stew" in a big pot (everybody adds a bit of whatever they have), sitting by a fire under a bridge, singing and playing the harmonica, carrying their belongings in a small bag tied to a pole and slung over their back. This interest in America tramp freedom became "Tramping" in CZ. The Tramps are very secretive – no, wrong word, very private – and membership is extremely limited -- exactly the way it was with the American tramps. If you have a friend that is a Tramp, he can invite you to one of their bonfire get-togethers, but you can't get membership. You pretty much have to be a relative. Each year, these Czech tramps take to the rails and meet for a big celebration of tramping. They prize old American country and folk music. The site above is a group that is sort of Tramp-fusion music, reviving the old traditions of Czech-Moravian music from the same period. Anyway, its a darn fascinating story.

    PS Nele, you can use any of this in your paper; I promise not to tell the teacher you copied!
  6. Nele

    Nele New Member

    Thanks for all the replies everyone, they are all very helpfull!
  7. Astaldo

    Astaldo Member

    Hello Nele,
    i didnt read the long posts so maybe it was said here before, but you can also mention the development of the relationship after WW2.

    While during the WW2 USA and Soviet union were allies, after the war came the era called cold-war. The Czechoslovakia has fallen under dominion of Soviet Union and the czech communist party ruled the republic for nearly fifty years, denying other political parties and democratic elections.
    The communists led permanent propaganda agaist the Western Europe and USA as their "leader". In their eyes, they had spread "capitalism" and "imperialism" which were described as the worst ideologies sweating and profiting of labourers, threatening the world peace. The main credit for winning WW2 and was given to soviet union. In these years, USA were kind of "official enemy" who only wants to harm Czechoslovakia and other communist countries. Though probably most people have not seen it exactly this way, this was the official viewpoint of the censored press, government etc. Other sources of information (from foreign countries) were badly available and ilegal. But as time passed, the more were people informed i think (influence of dissidents, Radio Free Europe etc.).

    I am 23 years old now, i didnt live through it, so it may not be described completely exactly, its just to give you an idea.

    After fall of the communism (I was 9) the information embargo ended too.
    Our todays politicians have good relations with USA, we are members of NATO. Nowadays the USA arent usually glorified nor evil-speaken among common czech people. There are also some opinions that we should not tend so much to USA in our foreign politics in the way we (involuntary) did in past to Soviet union, and that we should be more independent. The Czech republic is now supporting USA in their fight against terrorism (government and parliament are and people are not protesting).

    Thats the raw picture of current situation here in Czech republic I think.. Hope this helps a bit :)

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