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1 June 2015

Kurt Krolop Center for German Literature in Bohemia Prague officially opened

On May 29, 2015, a new research center of the Charles University in Prague was officially opened. It’s focused on Czech-German literature, and pays homage to Professor Krolop by bearing his name - Kurt Krolop Center for German Literature in Bohemia.

The director of this research center is Professor Dr. Manfred Weinberg. The research work will be carried out by Julia Hadwiger, M.A., Václav Petrbok, Ph.D., Professor Milan Tvrdík, and Štěpán Zbytovský, Ph.D. The center wants to contribute to the new mapping of the literature written in German, from Prague and the entire Bohemia. For a long time, this field has been either neglected or investigated from problematic points of view.

Professor Kurt Krolop
Professor Kurt Krolop
The long-term objective of the research center is to present the history of the German literature in Czech lands in its entirety. The outcomes of the research should be taken into account for the history of literature in both Czech and German language; the German literature in Bohemia should be understood as an integral part of the Czech cultural history. Special emphasis will be put into the social and historic context of this literature, important tendencies in the relations between German and Czech literature in the Czech lands, and, last not least, also the historical and political circumstances.

The participating researchers expressly reject the established assumptions, such as the allegation that the German writers in Prague lived and worked in a “triple ghetto” (as told by Pavel/Paul Eisner) – as Germans among Czechs, Jews among Christians, and rather wealthy ones with no natural link to lower social groups. Also the traditional view of the entirely humanistic German literature from Prague vs. nationalistic (or even pre-Fascist) Sudeten German literature is inappropriate and obsolete in our opinion. As the historic works of young researchers have shown lately, this kind of categorization is far too simplifying, yet it was widely featured on both conferences in Liblice in 1963 (focused on Franz Kafka) and 1965 (focused on Prague German literature).

The aforementioned assumptions were also in line with the ideological background of these conferences, i.e. with the question how can Kafka and “bourgeois decadent” authors of the Prague German literature be ever discussed from the Marxist point of view. The answers go well with the logic of this point of view; however, the German studies in Germany adopted them indiscriminately and with no modifications, and, surprisingly, made them an integral part of the image of the German literature in Prague and all Bohemia. Even after the downfall of the Iron Curtain (which lifted most of the ideological pressure), this concept wasn’t changed substantially. This is therefore the task of the Kurt Krolop Center.

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