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Lecture: The Prague Coup d’État in 1948: Heretical Thoughts

Date: 14 February 2018 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Venue: Czech Embassy

The Embassy of the Czech Republic welcomes Igor Lukes, Boston University Professor of History and International Relations, who will give the lecture "The Prague Coup d’État in 1948: Heretical Thoughts," on February 14, 2018, at 10 am. He proposes to challenge the established view that the outcome of the postwar political crisis in Prague was a preordained affair. Lukes posits that, except for the Communist plotters, the greatest share of responsibility for the loss of Czechoslovakia's democratic identity rested on the shoulders of the democratic politicians.

He argues that the Putsch in February 1948 was not a product of the allied agreements signed at Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam. The Communists' triumph was not made inevitable by the weight of the emerging blocs, driven by the map, nor was it simply for the Kremlin to dictate. Lukes notes that democratic politicians, weakened by their shame of Munich and blinded by their fear of Germany, underestimated the viciousness of their Communist adversary and the Stalinist realm. At no point did they attempt to educate the electorate regarding the Soviet Union. 

The West also contributed to the Communist victory—by political blunders and amateurism in such crucial fields as diplomacy and intelligence. Consequently, as Egon Hostovsky noted, the democratic camp could dislike the totalitarian enemy, but it had no one to love.

Event Details:

Time/Date: February 14, 2018, at 10 am

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

RSVP by February 12 to https://prague1948.eventbrite.com

Embassy policy: No bags or suitcases allowed. Only small purses permitted but will be checked at the door. No coat check available. You must pass through security for entrance. RSVP confirmation and photo ID required. 

Parking: Non-metered parking is available on Spring of Freedom Street and Tilden Street.

Closest Metro: The Embassy is about a 15-20 minute walk from the Van Ness Metro Station.

About Igor Lukes:

Igor Lukes is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and studied also at Charles University, Prague. He writes primarily about Central Europe. His publications deal with the interwar period, the Cold War, and contemporary developments in East Central Europe and Russia. He has authored a number of books, including On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague (New York: Oxford, 2012), Rudolf Slansky: His Trials and Trial (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center, the working papers series, 2006), Czechoslovakia Between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy of Edvard Benes in the 1930 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). His scholarly articles have been published in eleven countries and in such periodicals as Journal of Contemporary HistoryVierteljahrshefte für ZeitgeschichteDiplomacy & StatecraftHistorie a vojenstviStudies in Intelligence, and Slavic Review. Lukes is an Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in New England. His work has won the support of various institutions, including Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, the Woodrow Wilson Center, IREX, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.