Czechoslovakia: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Czechoslovakia, culture of czechs and slovaks, personality and history.


Czechs and Slovaks present a contrast, the latter tending to be more fiery and hence more willing to use arms to defend the country. Czechs tend to be more intellectual and fatalistic; they love debate and analysis, and much prefer to use words to arms as political weapons. Because of the simple origins of the country's leaders, the central role of culture, and the practical experience of vital democracy between the 2 World Wars, a "democratic mentality" pervades the people (especially the Czechs)--they utilize all opportunities, are effective organizers, and show a willingness to compromise. They try to look critically at every ruler's statements, and consider each action according to its human consequences. Comparing Czechoslovak students to American and West European students he had visited, Stephen Spender remarked:

Their Western student colleagues lay stress on aims and objectives, whereas the Czechs tend to emphasize the means which should be used to achieve them. They have had bitter experience [the 1950s Stalinism] of how human and lofty ends can be [negated] by inhuman means. They understand the process by which a revolution may turn into the very things Western students are rebelling against: centralized authoritarian government, bureaucracy, censorship, boredom. [Thus] the Czechs give not only a feeling of here and now but also of having lived through terrible realities.

A very different side of their character is shown by their spokesman, the fictional Schweik, who humorously outwits a superior force by appearing to be too dumb to carry out his commands (or he carries them out to absurd extremes). This habit developed when the Czechs were still under Austrian rule (before 1918) and had to fight in the Emperor's army, though desiring his defeat and the end of Austrian domination. Jaroslav Hasek began writing his stories, The Good Soldier: Schweik, in 1920, and Czechs have imitated his pranks as their fallback strategy ever since.

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