Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

By Josef Korbel | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight
Years of Darkness, Years of Struggle 1938-1945

Prague could never have been more beautiful than during the September days when its security hung by so slender a thread. Baroque towers-- themselves unreal and ethereal--floated peacefully against skies in which the bright blue of autumn made way for isolated drifting clouds. . . . Yet rarely, if ever, has the quaint garb of this old city seemed more museum- like, more detached from the realities of the moment, than it did during these strange days. The world had taken final farewell, it seemed, of nearly everything that these monuments represented. . . . And again, a remarkable little people, whose virtues and whose failings are alike the products of adversity, found themselves standing out in lonely bitterness against what they felt to be an unjust and unsympathetic Europe.1.

George Kennan wrote these poignant lines in October 1938, a few days after he had reached Prague as a young diplomatic officer. It was the first of his many reports, extending over a period of two

____________________
1.
George F. Kennan, From Prague after Munich: Diplomatic Pqpers, 1938-1940 ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1968), pp. 3-4.

-150-

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