Making a Czech Hero: Julius Fučík Through His Writings

Peter Steiner


Peter Steiner's convincing and meticulous analysis of Julius Fucik'sReportage brings to my mind memories that are not particularly enjoyable. For me and those of my contemporaries who shared my political convictions in the early 1950s, the Fucik cult-for he had become the object of an officially enforced cult-was highly unpleasant, if not downright disgusting. There were many anti-Nazi resistance heroes like him, people who, unlike him, had been ready to die if they could take one or two of the enemy with them. But-through no fault of Fucik's-the others, mostly nonCommunist, such as Czechoslovak fighter pilots in the Battle ofBritain or the Czech and Slovak parachutists who killed Heydrich, have been hushed up and eliminated from Czech history. Fortunately not forever. Yet the Communists treated Fucik not just like a primus inter pares, but-so it seemed to us-as the only anti-Nazi fighter worth talking about When I eventually became acquainted with his Reportage during my military service, under curious circumstances described below, the main elements of the book were quoted ad nauseam not only by politruks (officers in charge of political indoctrination) but also by kultprops (officers in charge of cultural activities). This in spite of the claim that Reportage is not a novel and ostensibly is not based on any formula.

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