National Geographic : 1938 Aug
CZECHOSLOVAKS, YANKEES OF EUROPE WESTERN CZECHOSLOVAKIA IS A SLAVIC PENINSULA IN A SEA OF GERMAN PEOPLES The elongated Republic, its government patterned after that of the United States, lies in the very center of Europe, almost surrounded by mountains. From industrial areas in the west it stretches for 600 miles eastward to a region of primeval forests and primitive farms. Its formation, with the help of the Allies after the World War, was the realization of a long-lived dream of restoration. The Kingdom of Bohemia, larger than the present province, was old and still powerful when Shakespeare laid part of his play, The Winter's Tale, on mythical deserts near its nonexistent seacoast. The Czechs, an ancient Slavic race, have lived in what is now central Bohemia and Moravia for nearly 20 centuries. Around their frontiers are Germans. The year the Pilgrims landed from the Mayflower in New England, Czechs lost their freedom. When they regained it three centuries later, on October 28, 1918, the Franz Josef railway station in old Prague was renamed for Woodrow Wilson. Today the Sudeten Germans appear often in newspaper headlines; their name is derived from the Sudeten Mountains in northern Bohemia and Silesia. Slovakia and Ruthenia, the eastern provinces, were parts of Hungary for 1,000 years. Though dominated today by Slovaks and Ruthenians, they also contain Czechs, Jews, Poles, Germans, Gypsies-and 700,000 Hungarians. Some paper money uses five languages on one bill. ingenious use of misshapen ones where un usual patterns required them. To let me glimpse Praha from the air that winter evening, our pilot swung his ship in a circle before landing near the city. Street lights were already burning; their beams shot skyward through thin, low lying fog. A hundred towers, sharp-tipped and delicate, pierced and silhouetted them selves against the misty veil that lay so lightly white over old Prague-a fairytale in stone (Plate I). Far below us the Vltava River mean dered through the town beneath thick ice (Plate II). On Hradcany, a hill above it, stood the Castle of Praha (page 178). The Drawn by Newman Bumstead and Ralph E. McAleer Bohemian prince-saint who is "Good King Wenceslaus" to English carol singers founded St. Vitus more than a thousand years ago. Hradcany epitomizes the stormy story of Bohemia, for in every historic Czech drama some scenes were here. Below the castle, across the river, is "Old Town." Its medieval houses and masonry pinnacles are preserved in the heart of a changing city that is twice its prewar size. Semicircling Old Town is a shopping district. Here a few new and many remodeled buildings are sprinkled among structures that, except for their shop-lined arcades, resemble the older parts of many American cities.