Today in Mailbox: response to Radio Prague's programmes, answers to our December mystery person quiz question. Listeners/readers quoted: Jaroslav B. Tusek, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Hans Verner Lollike, Jaroslaw Jedrzejczak, Valery Luhouski, Ian Morrison, Charles Konecny, Colin Law.
Hello and welcome to the last edition of Mailbox in 2013. Thank you so much for all the beautiful Christmas cards and New Year’s wishes. We’re happy that you also found the time to follow and respond to our programmes at this busy time of the year.
Jaroslav B. Tusek from the United States responded to a Radio Prague news story on the embarrassing incident in which the outgoing prime minister Jiří Rusnok was caught on tape, using expressive language, and telling other cabinet members that he did not wish to travel all the way to South Africa to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
“It would seem the top Czech leaders are not travelling types, these days. It's O.K. to have a couple of homebodies in the two top posts but are they really fulfilling Czech people's expectations for their top leaders?”
“During the last two decades and especially after the departure of communism from the country, the societal changes have been phenomenal. ... It is reported that one out of five children are growing up with single mothers. This figure of the Czech Republic is impressive within the EU. While there has been a willing acceptance by the society, there is, however still reluctance among the families who regret the mistakes made by their daughters. These single mothers often have a tough time in finding a suitable footing. To mitigate the problem, a Brno-based centre for experimental theatre has launched a unique project in which single mothers may take part to voice their concerns. This is a laudable project which needs to be encouraged. Maybe, other EU countries and other countries around the world which are facing a similar scenario can take this Czech project as a model.
Thank you for your e-mails as well as your comments on our Facebook page. We are always interested in your feedback. Now let’s hear some of your answers to our December mystery man quiz question.
Hans Verner Lollike writes from Denmark:
“I am quite sure, that the person you are looking for is. Karl Kraus. He was born into the wealthy Jewish family of Jacob Kraus, a papermaker, and his wife Ernestine, née Kantor, in Jičín, Bohemia. The family moved to Vienna in 1877. He got his education in Vienna, and started his career as a critic and satirical writer.”
Jaroslaw Jedrzejczak from Poland wrote.
“His name is Karl Kraus. Some years ago I and my family visited Jičín, town where Kraus was born.”
Valery Luhouski writes from Belarus:
“Karl Kraus was an Austrian writer and journalist. He was also a poet and a playwright. His most noted play is ‘Die letzten Tage der Menschheit’ (The Last Days of Mankind) which dramatizes ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.”
And Ian Morrison from China sent us this answer:
“Your December mystery man, who was famous for his satirical works, is Karl Kraus, who was born in 1874 is the east Bohemian town of Jičín to the wealthy family of papermaker Jacob Kraus. In 1933, his satire of Nazi ideology, ‘Die Dritte Walpurgisnacht’ contained what became the famous sentence ‘Mir fällt zu Hitler nichts ein’ (Hitler brings nothing to my mind).”
This is what Charles Konecny from the United States wrote:
“After starting university, it appears Kraus was hesitant as to what he wanted to do in life. After several changes of study he left university without a diploma. He then tried theater directing and acting, but his talent as an actor... not so much. So he took up newspaper writing where he became a critic of Habsburg society. This led to his starting his own publication Die Fackel, and this is where he made his mark. As editor of Die Fackel he took to task anyone and there were plenty with whom he disagreed. Events in the world, hypocrisy, and corruption, all felt his biting satire. In the end Kraus was considered the foremost satirist of his day. Not bad for someone without that... diploma.”
Colin Law from New Zealand sent us a long and thorough answer as usual from which we quote:
Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess.“‘Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess.’ That quote is from this month’s mystery Czech, Karl Kraus, who is often listed as writer, journalist, satirist, essayist, aphorist, playwright and poet.
“In Jičín, Bohemia on April 28th, 1874, Karl Kraus was the ninth child born to papermaker Jakob Kraus and his wife Ernestine. When Karl was 3 years old the family moved to Vienna where they added a nurse to look after their children. The difference between tranquil Jičín and the busy city of Vienna was an early upset that influenced the young Karl. When he started school his happiest times were holidays in a rural house in Weidling, a few kilometres north of Vienna, surrounded by trees, flowers and žluťáseks – which is a butterfly, the Pale Arctic Clouded Yellow.
“At school Karl did well in Maths, German and Latin and in 1892 he enrolled at the University of Vienna where he studied Law and then Philosophy. However he was attracted to amateur theatre and in 1896 he left university to direct and tour with productions, but with limited success. In 1897 Karl was named Vienna correspondent for the newspaper ‘Breslauer Zeitung.’
“In 1899 Karl Klaus renounced his Jewish faith and began his own newspaper ‘Die Fackel’ (The Torch), at first issued two or three times a month and then more irregularly. When it ended in 1936 there had been 922 issues of the paper. They included his many attacks on hypocrisy, nationalism, the pan-German movement, laissez-faire economic policies and numerous other topics.
“September 8th 1913 was a turning point in the life of Karl Kraus. That was the day he met Baroness Sidonie Nádherná z Borutína at the Imperial Café in Vienna. They fell in love and their relationship lasted until Karl’s death in 1936. They never married, possibly because of his Jewish heritage. (Karl became a Catholic in 1911 but he left the church in 1923 because of the its support for the war.) In the period of their relationship many of Karl’s works were written in Sidonie’s family home in Vrchotovy Janovice (about 10 km south of Benešov), a beautiful castle on an island surrounded by a park. This was a wonderful opportunity for Karl to return to the land of his birth. They often spent the day lying in the grass in the park in the shade of weeping willows. Photos of Vrchotovy Janovice remind me of Červená Lhota some 60km further south. In 1920 Sidonie secretly married the Count Max Thun Hohenstein, but he had psychological problems and within months they separated and were eventually officially divorced in 1933.
“In February 1936 Karl Kraus was badly injured when a cyclist ran into him in Vienna. After partial recovery, he was left with headaches, dizziness and heart problems which led to an embolism. He died in a coma on the 12th June 1936 and was buried in Zentralfriedhof Cemetery in Vienna.”
Thank you very much for your answers and this time our little prize goes to Andrea Burns from the United States. Congratulations! And, of course, we have a brand new mystery man for you to search for in January.
Please send us your answers to the usual address firstname.lastname@example.org by January 22nd. We are also looking forward to your questions, comments and, of course, reception reports. We have a brand new series of QSL cards to send you in return.
Thank you for being with us this year. Have a happy and prosperous 2014. Radio Prague will continue to keep you up-to-date about happenings in the Czech Republic. The first edition of Mailbox in the new year will be aired in four weeks’ time. Until then, take care.