“To The Day of Lilacs”

 

Travel Back in Time “To The Day of Lilacs”

Even 70 years after U.S. Gen. George S. Patton‘s Third Army liberated the city of Pilsen from Nazi occupation on May, 6 1945, the city, in what is now the Czech Republic, still celebrates the historic event the first week of May.

The annual Liberation Festival draws thousands of people from around the world each spring.

Darrell Hancock, of Kingwood, received the opportunity of a lifetime when he was granted press credentials allowing him to photograph the 70th anniversary Liberation Festival in May 2015.

“It was an astonishing experience,” Hancock said. “It’s something that I had never experienced before and may never again. The celebration lasts for several days. The two big events were a re-enactment of the liberation and a very long parade: the Convoy of Freedom. It was about two miles long; and all along the path, Czech people were lined up waving American flags and cheering. This is the third generation, at least, since the liberation and they’re still celebrating it.”

On Saturday, Nov. 19, from 6-9 p.m., the Czech Center Museum Houston will host a reception and grand opening for “Day of the Lilacs: A Celebration of the Liberation of Pilsen by the United States Army, May 6, 1945.” The photography exhibit will remain open through January 2017 and features the photographs Hancock took at the festival.

During the grand opening, Hancock will deliver a lecture discussing the historical context of the liberation, the lasting effects on the Czech population and his personal experience witnessing the celebration.

“In the lecture, I will explain what they did and explore how that joy of liberation managed to stay alive for seven decades,” Hancock said. “The interesting thing is that the liberation was militarily insignificant. The war was going to end anyway in just two more days. There was a strong argument not to do anything in Czechoslovakia and just wait. But Patton desperately wanted to go in.

“It was not a bloody liberation. There was relatively little resistance, but an enormous reaction. Entire towns turned out and they put lilac blossoms on the U.S. tanks and trucks. Lilacs, which were in bloom at that time, became a symbol of liberation.”

Day of the Lilacs will be Hancock’s first photography exhibit.

From photos of living American veterans of the liberation to Czech re-enactors of U.S. soldiers liberating Pilsen, Hancock is excited to share his experience of the Liberation Festival with others through his exhibit.

Hancock’s journey to Pilsen was inspired by his father and made possible with the help of the Czech Center Museum of Houston.

“My father served during World War II; and one of my goals is to go to all 11 countries he served in overseas,” Hancock said. “Czechoslovakia was the last country he served in. My father was not at the front of the liberation force; but he was right behind it. My wife and I wanted to go visit what is now the Czech Republic in May 2015 when Pilsen was having the 70th anniversary of their Liberation Festival.”

Hancock’s love of photography began at the age of 10 when he received his first camera. Although he still considers himself just an advanced amateur photographer, Hancock wanted an opportunity to photograph the Liberation Festival from close range.

He reached out to the Czech Center Museum of Houston’s founder, CEO and Chairman Effie Rosene, who wrote to authorities in Pilsen to acquire the credentials he needed.

“When he told me his cause, it struck a bell,” Rosene said. “It’s an incredible story; one that’s re-enacted and relived every year. It’s a story of interest not only for Czech people, but for anyone interested in history.”

The exhibit is free, but donations are welcome.

Thank you

The Czech Center Museum Houston celebrated its 9th Annual Czech Oktober Fest this last Saturday. Everyone had a grand time dancing the night away to the Rusty Steins. We of course couldn’t had had such a wonderful evening without the delectable food and drinks provided by our community sponsors Rudi Lechner’s, The Kolache Shoppe, and Karbach Brewery. Thanks again to everyone who came and made it such a special event.

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9th Annual Czech Oktober Fest

Friday, October 28, 2016

9th Annual Czech Oktober Fest from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Back by popular demand with dancing to the Rusty Steins, good Czech and German food provided by Rudi Lechner’s Restaurant, camaraderie, wine and Czech Beer and craft beer tastings provided by Karbach Brewing Company. We celebrate many events, and this is our most popular. Admission is $25. We also celebrate the historical circumstances acknowledging the founding of the state of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918 as Czech National Day. Book now by calling 713- 528-2060 or email to events@czechcenter.org.

Time: 6:00-9:00PM
Date: October 22,2016
Location: Czech Center Museum Houston
Ticket: 25, RSVP by email or phone (713) 528-2060.

Josef Lada

By Sandra Samolik, October 20, 2016

Josef Lada, a painter and writer, is especially known for his illustrations, which accompany Czechs from their cradle, through their holidays and later age. Czech children grow up with his illustrations of fairy tales and children’s readers, such as ‘Kocour Mikeš’ or ‘Mikeš the tomcat’. His landscapes adorn thousands of Czech Christmas cards and calendars. Thereby, his satiric illustrations of the World War One novel “The Good Soldier Švejk” by Jaroslav Hašek’s, give the character a face, that amuses the adult readers.

Who was ‘Kocour Mikeš’ or ‘Mikeš the tomcat’?

Mikeš, is a black cat, that lives with the shoemaker Pepik, grandmother and his friends in the village Hrusice. The intrepid tomcat, Mikeš, decides to explore the world and the readers get to follow him on his journeys. Eventually, he returns to his safe hometown and enjoys his time with his family and friends again.

Josef Lada himself was born in a cobbler’s family in Hrusice and left his village to start a training as a bookbinder and worked later as editor-in-chief for the Sunday issue of České slovo – Kvítko z čertovy zahrádky in Prag. After 1924, he started returning to his native village with his family where they spent their summer holidays. There, he decided to buy a piece of land and built a house in 1930. Four years later, he started to write the adventures of the talking cat, Mikeš, and completed his story in 1936. It has been translated into 30 languages and published around the world.

Lada has a very characteristic style, but the artist shouldn’t be confused with his simple visual style. His work concentrates on the simple things in life, gatherings, landscapes, very romantic, quiet and poetic scenes. But this doesn’t mean that he was simplistic or unsophisticated.

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Josef Lada, Landscape with family, 1954

According to art historian, Dr. Pavla Pečínková:

“Josef Lada does paint a world of his own…. All sorts of artists were doing this in the 1930s, and throughout both of the World Wars. The artist had the choice of using his art to engage with his surroundings, or to escape them. Lada was one of these introverts and sought inspiration from within.”

He was very productive through his lifetime and created hundreds of landscapes and quaint scenes. Nonetheless, Lada also took on a serious topics, by creating illustrations for the satirical novel ‘The Good Soldier Švejk’ in 1923. He confronts the viewer with the events of World War I. However, his images allow readers to face the topic from a critical, satirical point of view, without being confronted with the cruelty of war. The storyline is set during World War I in Austria-Hungary, a multi-ethnic empire full of longstanding ethnic tensions. This war caused the deaths of about fifteen million people; one million of them were Austro-Hungarian soldiers, which included around 140,000 Czechs.

In 1925, the satirical war novel was banned from Czechoslovak army libraries and was suppressed in Bulgaria. The Polish version was confiscated in 1928 and the German translation was burned on Nazi bonfires in 1933.

What made ‘The Good Soldier Švejk’ so unacceptable?

It explores in a hilariously subversive depiction, the pointlessness and futility of conflicts and military discipline, Austrian military discipline in particular. Many of its characters, especially the Czechs, are participating in a conflict they do not understand on behalf of an empire to which they have no loyalty.

The main character, soldier Josef Švejk, is a symbolic representation of this theme, undergoing many amusing and surprising adventures. Through idiocy or incompetence, which is possibly feigned, he repeatedly manages to frustrate military authority and exposes its stupidity in the form of passive resistance. The reader is left unclear whether Švejk is genuinely incompetent or acting deliberately with dumb insolence. Nonetheless, these absurd events reach a climax when Švejk, wearing a Russian uniform, is mistakenly taken prisoner by his own troops.

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Josef Lada, Soldier Svejk (left side)

Due to the contentious political situation in Europe after WWI, the controversial character of soldier Švejk became inadmissible for nations that were opposed to minorities (e.g. Czechs) or supported the military or monarchy. Although all the given disapproval against soldier Švejk, Josef Lada continued to develop his soldier character and edited his illustrations until 1954.

This novel is the most often translated Czech book worldwide and one of the most popular anti-war novels. Art historians assume that Josef Lada’s style was influenced due to his work as an illustrator for newspapers, conditioned by the black and white printing techniques, and permitting simple, clear lines.

However, he kept this narrative, picturesque style with an idyllic accent also in his oil paintings. Lada’s work is clear and understandable for all age groups, therefore, put in context, it receives an absolute different resonance, what makes his images so popular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday: The History of the United Nations

Time: 6:00-8:00PM
Date: January 21,2016
Location: Czech Center Museum Houston
Attendance is free, but RSVP by email or phone (713) 528-2060.

The United Nations celebrated its 70th anniversary on October 24, 2015. Since then, scholars and diplomats have been writing about its successes, failures, and the gamut of issues it has had to deal with over the years, within its nearly 200 member states. Dr. Slavomir Michalek is one such scholar, who will be presenting a lecture at the Czech Center Museum Houston this Thursday, January 21, 2016.

He will discuss Czechoslovakia’s involvement with the founding of the United Nations in 1945, which marks an important milestone in the history of the world’s struggle for democracy, freedom, security and human rights. Today, the international organization of peace continues to play a crucial role in international relations. He will discuss his recently published research on the participation of Czechoslovakia in the process of founding the United Nations, and the approach of the Security Council of the UN to the Czechoslovak questions in 1948 and again in 1968 under the title “San Francisco 1945.” The compilation is a unique historical record based on study and comparison of the documents of the League of Nations and the United Nations.

michalekThe exhibition Dr. Michalek has organized was inaugurated in October 2015 in Bratislava, Slovakia by the Secretary General of UN, Ban Ki-Moon, and attended by over 150 governmental officials and diplomats. The Secretary General proudly declared this exhibition to be “the only exhibition of its kind in the world, an excellent historical record and a great contribution to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.” The exhibition will officially open at the United Nations in New York City in the early part of 2016.

Dr. Michalek is a renowned historian, expert on Czechoslovak-American relations from World War II to the 1980s, and author and co-author of more than 20 monographs. His broad scholarly range focuses on American foreign policy towards Czechoslovakia or Czechoslovak-American economic and political relationships, as well as on personalities of the Czechoslovak foreign policy from the ranks of Slovaks.

Distinguished Lecturer: Bill Boyce

This weekend, join Czech Center Museum Houston for our Second Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring Bill Boyce. The evening will include a review of his book for sale and signing of Miss Fortune’s Last Mission.

Date: Saturday, January 8, 2015
Time: 4:00 PM
Tickets: Admission is free; please RSVP.
Contact: events@czechcenter.org or (713) 528-2060

About Miss Fortune’s Last Mission: Uncovering a Story of Sacrifice and Survival (Bright Sky Press):

Bill Boyce always wanted to know why his father, William D. Boyce, refused to discuss his tour of duty on a B-24 Liberator bomber during WWII. The experience had affected every aspect of his father’s life, but an unspoken agreement kept the topic classified. Bill failed to ask, and his father failed to tell.

Twenty-five years after his father’s death, Bill found Ray Noury, the one man who might tell him what his father would not. Noury had flown with Boyce during the fall and winter of 1943 and saved his life.

Their conversation led Bill to John Torrison, who had spent a decade tracking down facts about the crew and his uncle’s role as the tail gunner. Together, they searched stacks of old photographs, military records and family letters across America and in the Czech Republic, where the B-24 nicknamed Miss Fortune crashed on February 22, 1944.

Both intimate and historical, Miss Fortune’s Last Mission shows the impact the brave men who fought and died still have in the lives of the survivors who honor their sacrifices.

Details of the air war over Europe and the lives of the crew provide an important window on the human side of war. The authors’ search to understand the reverberations of the crash reveals the lasting effect of loss and healing power of sharing our stories.

Bill Boyce lives in Houston, Texas, where he practiced law for 18 years before becoming a justice on the state court of appeals. He graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and from Northwestern University School of Law. Before attending law school, he worked for newspapers in Illinois and Oregon.

He is married to Maria Wyckoff Boyce and is the proud father of daughters Emily and Julia.boycebook

Czech Baking Class at CCMH!

Just in time for summer, the Czech Center Museum Houston is hosting its first-ever Czech Baking Class on Saturday, May 30th, 10am – 12noon! We’re excited to learn from CCMH member Eva Maria how to make Czech bublanina, a cake-like dessert with fruit inside.

Entry is $10 each, and participants will get to taste a version of the finished product, experience the baking demonstration, and take home the recipe! While many Czech recipes are complicated and time consuming, this dish is relatively easy to make – so whether you’ve been baking for years or are still a beginner, don’t be afraid! There will also be a special surprise treat for a lucky attendee😀 We appreciate your RSVP by May 28th, as space is limited.

Here’s a raspberry bublanina to drool over until May 30th gets here:

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If you can’t attend on May 30th, watch our website and Facebook page for upcoming Czech Baking Class dates! We also continue with Free Movie Nights every second Friday and Happy Hours on one Thursday every month. Here are a few dates to mark:

Free Movie NightFriday, June 12, 2015, Doors at 7:30pm, Movie at 8pm

Happy HourThursday, June 18, 2015, 4-8pm

Polka Dancing! with Bob and Mike from Texas Legacy Czech Band: June 27 Saturday, 4-7pm

Free Movie NightFriday, July 10, 2015, Doors at 7:30pm, Movie at 8pm

Happy HourThursday, July 16, 2015, 4-8pm

Book Review and Signing with Dr. Jim Fuxa, author of Žižka the One-Eyed:
Talk and book signing with author of the “Historical Novel of Revolution in Medieval Bohemia.” Books will be available for purchase at the CCMH Gift Shop. July 25 Saturday, 4pm

See you soon!

Preserving and celebrating Czech and Slovak heritage with the goal of promoting a global community