CHAPTER 22 Falsification of History

CZECH democracy is based on a philosophy and an interpretation of Czech history. By pervading Czech education and literature, democracy has become part of the mental and moral inheritance of the nation.

The Communists have tried hard to capture, harness and abuse this consciousness of the past and its meaning. That is to say, as a basic step toward Sovietization of Czech culture, they have falsified or distorted Czech history, sometimes to fit their theories, sometimes to fit Stalinist expediency. The Communist system of historical falsification in Czechoslovakia begins with the big basic lie that the Czechs are an eastern European people. Beyond simply asserting this, Communist historians regularly trot out the fact that the ancestors of the Czechs were Christianized by missionaries who came from the East -- Byzantium. Some of the Czech Communist leaders, imperfectly informed about their country's history, have played with the idea of creating a cult of Cyril and Methodius, that would be in opposition to the Catholic Church. In the summer of 1949, these Communists were thrilled to hear that the Czech archaeologist, Vilem Hroby, had found a skeleton in the ruins of a ninth- century church at Stare Nesto in Southern Moravia; they believed that these might be the bones of Saint Methodius. The location of the bones was in accordance with an ancient Southern Slavic text called The Life of Constantine and Methodius, whose author is unknown, but which is quoted by Palacky in his history of Bohemia. In this manuscript it is written that Methodius "is buried in the great church of Moravia on the left hand side, in the wall behind the altar of the Virgin Mary."

In July 1949, I heard André Simon, the writer, who was then high in Communist counsels, tell the story of Methodius's bones with enthusiasm. But a few months later my Communist sources discouraged the idea that these were really the bones of the saint. More than a year later, at Harvard University, Professor Roman Jakobson, the philologist, who had

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