Student
placeholder

Lecture Examines Freedom in Postwar America

Martin Nekola, Ph.D., a political scientist, historian and scholar from Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, presented “For the Freedom of Captive Nations: Eastern European Exiles in Postwar America” at The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum collaborative program with the History Department.
April 18, 2018
By: Breanna Forgione ’18, student correspondent

“The Cold War and its influence lasted, as you know, for decades. The majority of the fighters for freedom and democracy didn’t live to see the fall of the Iron Curtain in the fall of 1989. Therefore, we historians need to catalog their efforts and make sure that their work will not be forgotten,” said Martin Nekola, Ph.D., of Prague, at The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum collaborative program with the History Department, held recently on campus.

Dr. Nekola, a Czech political scientist, historian and scholar from Charles University, presented “For the Freedom of Captive Nations: Eastern European Exiles in Postwar America,” which explored the formation and development of organizations of political exiles during the Cold War.

“Each time we have the opportunity to hear a scholar or a journalist from abroad, I believe we make this institution a better place,” said Sondra Meyers, Schemel Forum director. “I am especially pleased to welcome a Czech scholar from Charles University, Martin Nekola. While we are in one of those eras in America where immigration is under scrutiny and discouraged, there is no doubt that immigrants have enriched the intellectual and cultural climate of our nation.”

Dr. Nekola examined the general conditions leading up to the anti-communist exile movements in the countries of east-central and south-east Europe in the West.

“In the 1920s and 1930s, there were about two million first- and second- generation Poles in this country, in America, almost one million Czechs and Slovaks, 300,000 Hungarians, 260,000 Yugoslavs and 150,000 Romanians,” said Dr. Nekola.

Dr. Nekola also discussed the internal crises and conflicts surrounding anti-communist exiles, which included the lack of proper leadership and the surfacing of propaganda. 

“There were fears that World War II and the years preceding had exposed many reasons for distrust and bitterness. Nevertheless, the complicated relations between the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and Romanians did not prevent a common bond against the communist enemy,” said Dr. Nekola.

The Czech scholar addressed the varying viewpoints of what liberation meant to different parts of each exile community, as well as the impact those viewpoints had on society as a whole.

“Naturally, there were different views and disagreements about what would constitute an effective liberation. The conservative and extremist parts of the exile communities claimed that only a complete eradication of communism would suffice. The majority, however, said that many of the economic and social changes introduced under the communists would have to stay because they had become a part of each nation’s life,” said Dr. Nekola.

Dr. Nekola is a researcher on the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University in Prague. His research has mostly focused on non-democratic regimes, the Communism era, and the East-European anti-communist exiles in the United States throughout the Cold War. Moreover, Dr. Nekola has conducted research regarding political refugees from Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II and their migration to different parts of the world, at both the Hoover Institution and Stanford University.

Breanna Forgione ’18, Levittown, is a strategic communication major at The University of Scranton.
Breanna Forgione ’18, Levittown, is a strategic communication major at The University of Scranton.
Back to Top