KOTOV V.V. The Meeting (Slet) оf the Czech Sokol Movement in Brno on June 27–28, 1914

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2014.5.6

Kotov Viktor Viktorovich

Postgraduate Student,

Institute of Slavic Studies of RAS;


Masaryk University

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Prosp. Leninskiy, 32а, 119334 Moscow, Russian Federation

Abstract. The present article is devoted to the so called slet of the Czech Sokol (Falcon) movement which took place on June 27–28, 1914 in Brno, the capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia, which was a crown land within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Czech Sokol Union was one of the most powerful nationalistic organizations in the country. Sport was primary, but not the only agenda of the Sokol movement, which was advancing Czech interests since 1862. This festival held on 27th and 28th of June 1914 was the last major Sokol event before the outbreak of World War I. The slet is examined as yet another episode of the national conflict between Czechs and Germans in the region. Officially it took place not in Brno, but in the nearby town of Královo Pole (“King’s field”), where the local authorities were Czech. In fact, this place was one of the urban districts of Brno, but the German-led town council kept it independent not to let the local Czech inhabitants vote at the elections. More then 100 000 participants and spectators of the slet wanted to turn some of the Czech-speaking locals, who were indifferent to the national cause or preferred the German identity, into Czechs and to proclaim Brno a Czech city. In this argument they relied on so called historical and natural rights at the same time. This desire inevitably led to the street clashes. At that time Brno was visited by lots of journalists and public figures from Serbia, Russian Empire and the Slovak lands. The slet was not only a major sporting event, but also a unique opportunity to promote Moravian cultural and artistic trends to the world. Elaborately prepared, the slet was cancelled on its second day, when the information from Sarajevo about an Archduke Franz Ferdinand being assassinated came. The Sokols in Lviv experienced a similar turn of events, when their celebration of the 200th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birth was cancelled due to the bad news from Bosnia. Brno festival was one of the main themes in both Czech and German newspapers during the whole June and in the first half of July, reflecting the hostility between the two sides.

Key words: Brno, Sokol movement, Czech lands, Austria-Hungary, nationalism.

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The Meeting (Slet) оf the Czech Sokol Movement in Brno on June 27–28, 1914 by Kotov V.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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