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The Destruction of Monasterial Libraries

A unique virtual exhibition of the National Library of the CR commemorates the 70th anniversary of Action K and Action Ř – the communist attacks against monasteries and nunneries in Bohemia.
The Destruction of Monasterial Libraries

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A unique virtual exhibition of the National Library of the CR commemorates the 70th anniversary of Action K and Action Ř – the communist attacks against monasteries and nunneries in Bohemia. The name of the exhibition Action K: The Destruction of Monasterial Libraries refers to events that resulted in destruction or damage of many books kept until then in rich collecions of monasterial libraries.

The results of historical research, carried out by Marcela Strouhalová and Luboš Kokeš, present the wide public with the story of monasterial libraries from their very beginning through the centuries, when the books were kept with great care, to their reversible damage during the Actions K and Ř in the1950s, when altogether 152 library collections consisting of more than 1,8 million books, including the rare manuscripts, were seized. Many books subsequently ended damaged or completely destroyed. Part of the confiscated books also went to the National Library. In the context of Church restitutions in the1990s, the National Library returmed 120 000 books to the Church. „Although the exhibition is the result of a professional historical research, it is designed and intended to be comprehensible to the general public,“ says Martin Kocanda, general director of the Nationa lLibrary of the CR.

The virtual exhibition has been prepared since June 2019. It is divided into four chapters. Apart from the period photographs, the first three chapters also contain an animated film. On this interesting journey, you will be guided by a monk, personifying the theme of the exhibition itself.

„While the central theme is the Action K, the exhibition contemplates in general why to care for the past and how the books are valuable and are an irreplaceable source of information.That is why we created a large amount of picture and film material, and did not rely only on period photographs“, added Nina Wančová from the realization team.

Realization Team of the Exhibition:
Content, Historical Research: Luboš Kokeš, Marcela Strouhalová
Layout, Animation: Marie Matysová
Concept, Scenario, Production: Nina Wančová
Commentary on Animations (in Czech): Martin Dusbaba

The Monasteries and ActionK

During the centuries of its existence, the Church has gained considerable influence, not only spiritual, but also political. The monasteries were the centres of education and formed European culture. After the World War II, the Church has to face a new enemy, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The party was determined to deprive the Church of its power, and used a number of tools – from funding through censorship of books to the fight by means of media and police.

It was important to replace former religious rituals by the new, communist ones. And so Christmas presents were newly brought by Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) instead of traditional Christkind. The fight against the Church culminated by Action K, when monasteries were identified as centres of anti-state activities. On the night ofApril 13-14, 1950, an attack on male monasteries took place, followed several months later by Action Ř, an attack against nunneries. As a result, the monks and nuns were imprisoned in internment camps and the state gained financial means, properties,works of art, art objects and books in its possession.

The virtual exhibition was open on April 13, 2020, at 6 pm.

For computers go at: https://exhibition.indihu.cz/view/akce-k/
Google Chrome is the best option to access the exhibition.Other browsers may cause functionality problems.

For mobile devices go at: https://exhibition.indihu.cz/view/akce-k-mobilni/start
It is designed for devices running on Android in combination with Google Chrome. Other OS and browsers may cause functionality problems.