Masaryk and others

The Masaryk Days 2020 were launched with regular lectures and debates on current societal issues, enriched with cultural events. This second year, organised online in 2021 for obvious reasons, will offer a closer look at Masaryk’s personality and his relationships with other people. The festival will highlight the Czech economist and politician Karel Engliš; it will present Masaryk’s thinking on topics relevant to the current coronavirus era and include a concert with works by the composer and pianist Jan Novák, among others. We trust you will find a wealth of inspiration in the programme. 

A look back at the Masaryk Days 2020 

The theme of the first year of the Masaryk Days in the spring of 2020 was Masaryk’s view of democracy. At the university’s Scala Cinema and at the Governor’s Palace in Brno, we discussed his belief in humanity, human dignity and the ethical dimension of human values. For TGM, democracy was the “mathematics of love” based on truth and justice. 

2021: TGM and those around him 

Although the university has been seriously affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has also blocked us from organising public events, in this second year we will look more closely at Masaryk’s personality and his relationships with other people – both his family and friends and his political allies, opponents, and foreign connections. However, as with our present student courses, we can only offer members of the university community and the public a selection of online lectures, concerts, recordings and interviews. 

From Masaryk to Karel Engliš 

One of Masaryk’s most important relationships was with Karel Engliš (18801961), the Czech economist, politician and founder of teleological economic theories, the First Republic’s Minister of Finance and Masaryk University’s first Rector. His life and work are also connected with Brno and the Moravian-Silesian Region. He was wholly devoted to the Czechoslovak Republic: He helped stabilise its currency, make the state budget more transparent and create a system of taxation. His part in the foundation of Masaryk University and the establishment of a successful law faculty is indisputable. However, few people know that in 1938 he initiated the transfer of Karel Hynek Mácha’s remains from Litoměřice to Prague. Despite having done so much for the country, in 1948 he was forced to withdraw from public life and return to his home village of Hrabyně. His books were removed from public libraries. He died after several years of impoverished life. We are now commemorating his legacy together with the Society of Friends of Karel Engliš which promotes his work – for example, through the publication of a commemorative issue of his memories of TGM. 

TGM remains relevant to the current times 

We have endeavoured to make the second year of the Masaryk Days as varied as possible, in spite of these difficult times. The Rector of MU, Martin Bareš, will remind us of some of Masaryk’s ideas that are very current in the coronavirus era. They can help students, academics and university employees to “grit their teeth” and get through this challenging period, when the lecture halls lie empty and the vast majority of classes and other meetings are conducted online. Masaryk has something to say about such situations – his endurance, courage, and insistence on order and discipline in life during the Great War are exemplary. During this time of crisis it is also necessary to mention his often-highlighted connection between theory and practice, which serves to help people in need. 

Masaryk continues to inspire online in 2021 

In addition to the Rector’s speech, the website also offers a great deal of valuable, inspirational and even artistic material. Of particular note is a concert dedicated to the work of the composer and pianist Jan Novák (1921–1984), a native of Nová Říše who had several “second homes” in exile after 1968. 

I hope that – alongside the Mendel Days in autumn – the Masaryk Days become a regular feature of life at Masaryk University, demonstrating the academic community’s interest not only in the past, but also in the present and the future. In this respect, Masaryk is a particularly inspirational guide.  

 

Jiří Hanuš 

Vice-Rector for Academic and Personnel Affairs 

5th February 2021 

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