This Tuesday marks 90 years since the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak state. To celebrate this important anniversary, the National Museum, together with the Military History Institute in Prague and the Czech Senate, has put together a major new exhibition entitled Republika or The Republic, dedicated to the first twenty years of the new state.
After marking the Soviet-led invasion in 1968, the National Museum is now looking back at another very significant event in the country’s history that happened in a year ending in “8”: the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918. To capture the atmosphere and historical context of the era known as the First Republic, the organizers have divided the exhibition into four different areas. Marek Junek is one of the people behind the project:
“We display railways and other themes connected with this area, because trains were a very important part of our history in the first half of the century. The second area is the town and the city. During the first Czechoslovak Republic, the architecture really changed the face of our cities. The third area is the countryside, because nearly two thirds of people lived in the countryside, and the fourth one is culture, since most people today associate the First Republic with movies.”
The most valuable items on display are without question original versions of the Munich agreement, under which Czechoslovakia’s German speaking territories were sliced off and handed to Hitler. The treaty was signed by France, the UK, Italy and Germany – and the exhibition’s organisers have succeeded in presenting three of those language versions to the Czech public for the first time.
“We display three original copies of the Munich agreement: German, Italian and English. But in fact the English copy came from Germany, because in Great Britain they only have an authorized copy.”
“Because people from the French archives could not find the Munich agreement. When we asked why, they told us that the Munich agreement was stolen during the Second World War, when Germany occupied Paris. But there are many other interesting items at the exhibition as well.”
Among them is for example the 1918 Washington Declaration of Czechoslovak independence, designs of the national flag by František Kupka and medals worn by Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the day of his assassination. Republika will open its doors to the public on Tuesday and it will run until March 15.
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