Henri de Blowitz

In today's Mailbox: new listeners, listening to Radio Prague online and on mobile phones, comments on Radio Prague's stories on Facebook. Listeners quoted: Adita Prithika, Yukiko Tsuji, Nigel Lee, Bob McKendrick, Mohammed Nazih, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Li Ming, Atish Bhattacharya, Mary Lou Krenek, Colin Law.

Photo: Jeroen Thoolen / Stock.XCHNG
Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s listeners’ feedback programme. Thank you for all your comments and reception reports. And we are always happy to welcome new listeners on boards, among them Adita Prithika from India.

“Dear Radio Praha, I am a student, I am currently doing my undergrad degree in Physics and I am a budding DXer. I was very happy when I got my first mail from Radio Praha a few weeks back... Thank you so much for the QSL card. It's certainly an encouragement for new DXers like me, although I couldn't send a reception report for reception on SW radio. I hope I would be able to tune into Radio Prague more often online.”

And it was good to hear again from Yukiko Tsuji from Japan:

“I would just like to tell you how happy I am that now I can listen to Radio Prague on my tiny iPhone. I installed TuneIn Radio, and every time I select Radio Prague, I can always listen to your programs. It is so wonderful! Now more and more, I can get familiar with your country and culture.”

Nigel Lee comments on our recent post on Facebook about Prague ranking fifth out of 25 top destinations listed in the annual Travelers’ Choice survey:

“Prague is nice, but also a gateway to the rest of the Czech Republic (e.g. Brno, Olomouc and Ostrava), and also Slovakia.” And Bob McKendrick replies: “Fifth? It is my number one.”

Thank you for all those comments and please keep them coming. Now it’s time once again to quote from your answers to our monthly quiz question. Last month’s mystery man is not Anton Heinrich Springer but rather:

“Henri Georges Stephan Adolphe De Blowitz is the name of the Bohemian journalist, born in 1825, who became the Paris correspondent of The Times and achieved his biggest journalistic success at the time of the Congress of Berlin in 1878.”

That correct answer was sent by Mohammed Nazih from Morocco.

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India wrote:

Henri de Blowitz
“Born in Blovice in Bohemia, Henri de Blowitz was a renowned writer, linguist and a journalist par excellence. He was the chief Paris correspondent for The Times of London from 1873. As a competent journalist he had an uncontrollable desire to get to the bottom of sensational news and publish them before anyone else. His deep insights into diplomacy, use of ingenious methods for gaining access to information and his vowed responsibility to his profession were the hallmarks of an outstanding journalist. His notable news reporting includes the 1875 German plan to attack France and the internal German conspiracy against the country. Both these news exposures effectively prevented German assault on France.

“However, the most challenging and daring piece of reporting which still stands out as a gem in the annals of the history of journalism was created at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. After the conclusion of the two-year Russo-Turkish War, the countries of Europe gathered at the Congress of Berlin to discuss and settle the outstanding issues which was to lead to the signing of the Treaty of Berlin. It was alleged that the all-powerful German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had secret plans in the Treaty to redraw some European borders which he wanted to guard secretly from exposure to the world.

“However, the tactful journalist Henri de Blowitz not only succeeded in accessing the text details of the Treaty but was also able to transmit them for publishing moments after being endorsed by the German Chancellor. This epic journalism was the high mark of a successful career. He was awarded with the appointment as an Officer of the Legion d'honneur. Henri de Blowitz was also a writer in his own right. His writing skill is to be found in the History of Europe (1871–1918) and European Politics and Government (1871–1918) and his articles in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

Li Ming from China writes:

“The person you are looking for this month is Henri Blowitz. His most famous achievement was in 1878, when he managed to obtain the text of the Treaty of Berlin and publish it at the very moment that the Congress of Berlin was finally signing it.”

Atish Bhattacharya from West Bengal writes:

“Henri Georges Stephane Adolphe Opper de Blowitz, better known as Henri Blowitz, was the Bohemian journalist who was born on 28 December 1825 and died on 18 January 1903. In 1873 he became chief Paris correspondent of The Times... The same year he was made an Officier of the Légion d'honneur.”

Blovice,  photo: Miloš Turek
Mary Lou Krenek from Texas sent in this answer:

“Our mystery person for this month is Henri Blowitz, a nineteenth century Bohemian journalist. He was born as Jindřich Opper to a Jewish family at Blovice, Bohemia in 1825. He left home at fifteen to travel and learned a wide range of languages. He had planned to immigrate to America, but a chance meeting with the French minister for public education led to a professorship of foreign language at the Tours Lycee around 1849. Thereafter, he transferred to Marseilles Lycée. He resigned his professorship in 1859 when he married to devote himself to literature and politics.”

Colin Law from New Zealand sent a thorough answer as usual:

“The full name of Henri Blowitz was Henri Georges Stephane Adolphe Opper de Blowitz. He was born Jindřich Opper in Blovice, a town 25km south east of Plzeň in Bohemia on 28 December 1825. He died in Paris on 18 January 1903.

“When he was about six years old Henri was kidnapped by gypsies who raced their horse and cart to escape Henri's family who gave chase. However, in his memoirs he recounts that he was saved by a chance left turn at a fork in the road that led to a dead end. Had the gypsies turned right they might have succeeded in the kidnapping.

“Said to be the most famous Czech journalist, he is also described as a cartoon character – small, fat and pudgy with huge sideburns which had a tendency to cover the lapels of his jacket. He was an influential journalist and foreign correspondent for the British ‘Times’ newspaper who rubbed shoulders with many of the politicians and statesmen of his time. Apparently Henri did not write his articles in English, but preferred French for his articles in the English 'Times' newspaper.

“Henri left Blovice while in his early twenties and went to France as a German language teacher. Soon afterwards he married a wealthy widow who was eleven years his senior. He knew, or perhaps he invented, some of the best tricks of journalism which enabled him to be in the right place at the right time to 'scoop' the information for a revealing exposé. He is remembered for his most famous achievement when in 1878 he obtained the text of the Treaty of Berlin and was able to publish it at the exact time that the Congress of Berlin was signing the treaty.

Caricature of Henri de Blowitz
“When Henri Blowitz died in 1903 The Times newspaper printed his obituary in a record 10,000 words, ending with ‘M. Blowitz stood in the front rank of modern journalism, and by his death The Times will suffer a severe loss, for he must be a clever successor who will be able to pick up the tangled threads his fingers have dropped, and to manipulate them as skilfully’.”

Thank you very much indeed for your answers and the time you devoted to the research. The lucky winner who will receive a parcel containing Radio Prague promotional material this month is Jahangir Alam Manto from Bangladesh. Congratulations and your prize is in the post.

And here’s a new question for the coming weeks:

We are looking for the name of the Texas-born aeronautical engineer with Czech roots who co-founded and for several years led the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Your answers need to reach us by May 14th at the usual address, [email protected]. You can send us your questions, comments and reception reports to the same address, or contact us on Facebook. Mailbox will be back in four weeks’ time. Until then happy listening.