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Lecture: Masaryk, Havel, and the Republic

(This article expired 08.01.2014.)

On January 17, at 6:30 pm, Zdeněk David, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, will present the lecture Masaryk, Havel, and the Republic at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, followed by a screening of the film Václav Havel, Prague - Castle.

Light refreshments will be served at the event.

Location: Embassy of the Czech Republic
3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008

RSVP by January 15: czech_events@yahoo.com | 202/274-9105
Please put “lecture” in the subject line.

Admission is free.

Lecture: Masaryk, Havel, and the Republic
Havel and Masaryk did not fully agree on the source of the spiritual purpose governing the world and humanity, yet they both affirmed the existence of such a power and saw its global manifestation in democracy and humanitarianism. Havel’s approach was more metaphysical, Masaryk’s empirical. As much as we can distinguish the philosophical differences between the two men, we can also see them linked together in a long historical continuum. If it was Masaryk’s place in history to be the initiator of Czech independence, it was Havel’s destiny to be its revivifying force. Above all, both of them saw their crucial mission in using their high office to proclaim the ideals of universalism, democracy, and humanitarianism, and to seek a realization of these ideals in the world community.

About Zdeněk David
Zdenĕk V. David is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he served as a librarian from 1974 to 2002. Earlier, having received a Ph.D. degree in History from Harvard in 1960, he taught Russian and East European history at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and at Princeton. His recent publications include two monographs: Finding the Middle Way: The Utraquists’ Liberal Challenge to Rome and Luther (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), and Realism, Tolerance, and Liberalism in the Czech National Awakening: Legacies of the Bohemian Reformation (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). The former has appeared in a revised Czech edition as Nalezení střední cesty. Liberální výzva utrakvistů Římu a Lutherovi (Prague: Filosofia, 2012). He is currently working on a manuscript, Thomas G. Masaryk, a Scholar and a Statesman: Philosophical Background of His Political Views. He served as secretary general of SVU from 2006 to 2012, mainly helping to organize the academic programs of SVU Congresses and Conferences, as well as helping to edit the ensuing collections of papers for publication.

Film: Václav Havel, Prague - Castle
Director Petr Jančárek’s documentary Václav Havel, Prague - Castle explores the earliest days of Václav Havel's presidency, as told by members of Havel's inner circle and the playwright himself, including the arrival of his team to Prague Castle in the wake of the turbulent 1989 elections and his historic speech to the U.S. Congress. Havel and his advisors' immediate goal was to lead the country to its first free elections as quickly as possible. (2009, 57 minutes, Czech with English subtitles)