Milan Rastislav Štefánik: The Slovak National Hero and Co-Founder of Czechoslovakia

January 20th, 2023 · 32 mins 53 secs

About this Episode

On this episode, Cullan talks with Professor Michal Kšiňan about his monograph on the Slovak national hero and co-founder of Czechoslovakia, Milan Rastislav Štefánik. Michal talks about Štefánik's military career and meteoric rise and the place he continues to hold in Czechoslovakia history and memory. Thanks for listening!

This is the first scientific biography of Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880–1919) that is focused on analysing the process of how he became the Slovak national hero. Although he is relatively unknown internationally, his contemporaries compared him “to Choderlos de Laclos for the use of military tactics in love affairs, to Lawrence of Arabia for vision, to Bonaparte for ambition ... and to one of apostles for conviction”. He played the key role in founding an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 through his relentless worldwide travels during the First World War in order to create the Czechoslovak Army: he visited Serbia and Romania on the eve of invasion by the Central Powers, Russia before the February revolution, the United States after it declared war on Germany, Italy dealing with the consequences of defeat in the Caporetto battle, and again when Russia plunged into Civil War. Several historical methods are used to analyse the aforementioned central research question of this biography such as social capital to explain his rise in French society, the charismatic leader to understand how he convinced and won over a relatively large number of people; more traditional political, military, and diplomatic history to show his contribution to the founding of Czechoslovakia, and memory studies to analyse his extraordinary popularity in Slovakia. By mapping his intriguing life, the book will be of interest to scholars in a broad range of areas including history of Central Europe, especially Czechoslovakia, international relations, social history, French society at the beginning of the 20th century and biographical research.

Michal Kšiňan is a researcher at the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. He defended his PhD theses in history summa cum laude in 2011. He wrote his PhD theses en cotutelle between University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he later also lectured (2018–2019), and the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava where he currently works. He wrote several books about Štefánik, edited or coedited 5 volumes and published dozens of scientific papers on different topics. His works were published in Slovak, French, English, Italian, German and Russian. In 2006, he graduated from history and French language and literature at the Faculty of Pedagogy, Comenius University, Bratislava. In 2007, he got his Master 2 recherche from Contemporary Central European History at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

PRODUCER'S NOTE: This episode was recorded on November 1, 2022 via Zoom.

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Host/Associate Producer: Cullan Bendig (@cullanwithana)
Associate Producer: Lera Toropin (@earlportion)
Assistant Producer: Taylor Ham
Assistant Producer: Sergio Glajar
Assistant Producer: Misha Simanovskyy (@MSimanovskyy)
Executive Assistant: Eliza Fisher
Supervising Producer: Katherine Birch
Audio Editor: Blaine Young
Recording and Sound Design: Michelle Daniel

Music Producer: Charlie Harper (@charlieharpermusic) (Main Theme by Charlie Harper and additional background music by Shaolin Dub, Simon Mathewson, Blue Dot Sessions,)

Executive Producer & Creator: Michelle Daniel (@M_S_Daniel)

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