The “eights” are famous dates in the history of the Czech and Slovaks because of the dramatic changes that occurred which shaped their history. 1848 was the year of revolutions sparked by growing national feeling, 1918 witnessed the birth of Czechoslovakia out of the ashes of World War I. 1938 and 1948 saw its sacrifice by putative Western allies to years of bloody Nazi occupation and, after liberation, takeover in a Communist coup d’état. 1968 gave brief promise of a more “human face” to Communist rule only to have the Prague Spring crushed by the Warsaw Pact invasion in August. In 1988, the sclerotic Communist regime was still in power, but cracks in the ice split apart in 1989 in the Velvet Revolution. And three years later the Czechs and Slovaks amicably parted in the Velvet Divorce of 1993.
In this “big eight” Centennial year of Czechoslovakia’s birth and the 25th year of Slovak independence, The Slovak American Society of Washington, DC and Friends of Slovakia are co-sponsoring a series of six lectures discussing the momentous changes that occurred in these watershed years.
April 21st — Dr. Carol Leff, University of Illinois, speaking on the events surrounding the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.
May 4th — Ted Russell, former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, speaking about his personal experiences in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia around the time of Slovak independence, and Prof. James Krapfl, McGill University, speaking on the events leading up to Slovak independence in 1993 and their influence to the present day.
June 15th — Prof. Leslie Waters, Randolph Macon College, speaking on the events of 1938.
September 29th — Prof. Gregory Ference, Salisbury University, speaking on the events of 1918 and the Pittsburgh Agreement.
October 20th — Prof. Martin Votruba, University of Pittsburgh, speaking on the events of 1848 and their meaning for Slovak nationhood.
November 3rd — Dr. J. Luke Ryder, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, speaking on the communist takeover in 1948.
SASW Speakers' Series
The SASW Speakers’ Series, which started in 2003, grew out of the occasional SASW-sponsored talks that were held mainly at SASW annual meetings. At first, the talks were mostly events of opportunity, scheduled to take advantage of speakers who were local or who happened to be in the area and were often scheduled sporadically. But with the launch of the Speakers’ Series, SASW sought out scholars and other people who are knowledgeable about different aspects of Slovakia and its culture. What we originally thought would be a somewhat limited pool of speakers has turned out to be a large group of experts who are delighted to have an audience that also shares their interest in Slovakia and their specialties.
Over the years, the assortment of subjects has been broad, from immigration to music, genealogy, politics, literature, architecture, travel, history, and crime novels. Our range of speakers has also been impressive. Policy experts, academics, genealogists, folklorists, current and former diplomatic staff, authors, an architect, researchers, and historians have all shared their knowledge and views with us. Their presentations have given us overviews of their subject field, as well as caught us up on their own research.
We are always eager to hear your suggestions about topics of interest and potential speakers. If you would like to see a comprehensive list of past speakers, please click this link List of Speakers.