Czechast: Moravia and Silesia

The historical border of Moravia

The administrative divisions we see today in Czechia don't quite respect historic boundaries of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. How did this come to be?

In this podcast, you will hear from Doctor Ctirad Musil, Chairman of a political party called Moravians, which, so far unsuccessfully, strives to achieve an autonomous status for this historic land in the east of the country:

Moravia  (green) and Silesia  (yellow),  red represents the Moravian enclaves | Photo: Jiří Vaňáček,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

"The original Moravian and Silesian lands disappeared and became only regions. Prague centralism came in, and it does not bode well for those countries. We see an outflow of people to Prague and abroad, and I don't like it. I live in this country and I see how it is becoming demoralized. I feel less and less at home here, and it bothers me. If I were some kind of cosmopolitan world traveler and didn't care where I live culturally, I would move away. But I have nowhere to move. I would like to live at home in Moravia, but it ceases to be Moravian."

According to Ctirad Musil, Moravia is subject to systematic "Czechization," which he says is similar to the Germanization of the Slavic-speaking population during the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Is such a comparison adequate? I asked historian Josef Tomeš from the Masaryk Institute and the Archives of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and here is his response:

Milan Olšánek sculpture in Vysočina marking the Czech-Moravian border  | Photo: Martin Veselka,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

"Such a comparison is lame and inappropriate, totally inappropriate. The Moravians were historically a tribe of the Czech nation. A distinctive tribe, often the bearer of even more distinctive patriotism than the Czechs from Bohemia in the recent past. But the Silesians are, for example, a similar tribe, and the so-called 'Czechization' cannot be compared with Germanization under the Nazi rule. That was a harsh onslaught against the Czech nation in a situation where our lands were occupied, the nation was enslaved and, as we know today, was supposed to be gradually liquidated. It is definitely not appropriate to compare this."

In this podcast, we explore also the identity of the people living in the third historic land of the Czech Crown – Silesia. To help us understand this rich and complex topic, I am spoke to Ondřej Haničák from the Silesian Museum in Opava. Ondřej is an expert in the history and cultural identity of Silesia.

Author: Vít Pohanka
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  • Czechast

    Czechast is a regular RPI podcast about Czech and Moravian culture, history, and economy.