The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: Facing the Holocaust

By Livia Rothkirchen | Go to book overview

8
The “Righteous” and
the Brave
Compassion and Solidarity
with the Persecuted

Resentment toward Nazism was naturally more pronounced in Czechoslovakia than in other neighboring countries. Hitler's anti-Czech tirades and the growing antagonism among the Sudeten Germans generated widespread apprehension and fear of Nazi expansion. Only quite recently did it become known that it was actually President Masaryk himself who initially reviewed Hitler's Mein Kampf (1933) in the Prager Presse.1 He did so under the title “Hitler's Credo,” using the initials V.S., warning the world against the insanity of such chauvinistic and racist ideas. From the very beginning many noted Czech intellectuals actively participated at international conventions, raising their voices of foreboding against National Socialism, fascism, and the totalitarian rule in Germany, foreshadowing in their works and plays the approaching catastrophe. Suffice it to recall Karel Čapek's White Plague, which won worldwide recognition. Another Prague publicist and journalist, Dr. Oscar Singer, wrote his anti-Nazi play Herren der Welt as early as 1935.2

The Czechoslovak section of the Paris-based Ligue International contre l'Antisémitisme (International League against Anti-Semitism) warrants special acknowledgment. Under its auspices the Věstník čsl. ligy proti antisemitismu (Bulletin of the Czechoslovak League against Anti-Semitism) made its appearance as of 1936. The national chairman of this organization was Pastor Bohumil Vančura of the Church of Bohemian Brethren. The head of the Brno section, Professor Maxmilian Ryšánek, publisher and owner of the press service Tribuna tisková korespondence or Tri-Kor, cooperated closely with the League against Anti-Semitism in extracting features from the Nazi press for distribution at no charge to newspapers and weeklies in Bohemia and Moravia (in both Czech and German). The objective was to make readers aware of Nazi methods,

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