Educating Citizens in Exile: A Czechoslovak School in Wales during World War II

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 4:10 PM
Centennial Ballroom B (Hyatt Regency Denver)
Laura Elizabeth Brade, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
During World War II, the Czechoslovak state ceased to exist. Yet, exiled Czechoslovaks in Great Britain were concerned about continuing to educate children as Czechoslovaks in the hopes that they would return to Central Europe and help to rebuild a postwar Czechoslovakia. This paper examines a Czechoslovak school in Wales through the lens of its students to understand the ways in which the Czechoslovak government-in-exile attempted to educated children while in Britain. What did the “exile education” consist of? How were students persuaded to maintain their Czechoslovakness while living in Britain? Which students returned after 1945 to rebuild Czechoslovakia? How was this nation rebuilding message communicated during their years at the Czechoslovak school? Using primarily survivor testimony, this paper explores the mission, message, and effectiveness of the school in separating their pupils from British society in the hopes that they would maintain strong enough ties to Czechoslovakia while growing up in exile.