Czech EdMin adviser participated in lectures of extremist Patriotic Front organization
Six years ago, Ladislav Bátora, today an economic adviser to the Czech Education Minister, participated in private lectures on the "Czech movement against Judaism" ("české protižidovství") organized by the ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front (Vlastenecká fronta - VF). According to the available information, one of the lecturers in this series was the then-spokesperson for the neo-Nazi National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO), Petr Kalinovský. Many famous faces of the Czech ultra-right attended the lectures, including people whom experts and police say are neo-Nazis. Bátora not only does not deny participating in the VF lectures, but says he presented several himself.
The source for this information, who does not wish to be named, points out that in a work by Bátora entitled "Czech Review - My Nation and My Homeland" (Česká revue - Můj národ a má vlast) he praises an anti-Semitic treatise by Rudolf Vrba, entitled "Adulteration of the Slavs" ("Zkáza Slovanů"), labeling it "brilliant". Bátora has never explained what he meant by that. He recently stopped midway through an interview on the subject with the Czech Press Agency and Czech Television and left disgruntled.
Kalinovský's lecture on the topic of "The history, causes, and development of the Czech movement against Judaism", according to the available information, took place on 17 December 2004 in a building on Ve Smečkách street in Prague. According to video recordings, those attending the lecture along with Bátora and Kalinovský were a former member of the dissolved Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS), Ladislav Malý, as well as Erik Sedláček and Patrik Vondrák, seasoned extremists connected to the DS and NO. Both were the main representatives of the now-defunct Young National Democrats association (Mladí národní demokraté - MND), which did its best to hold a right-wing radical march through Prague's Jewish Town on 10 November 2007, the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kalinovský himself organized a similar march in January 2003.
Josef Maraczi testifies to the fact that the meeting was not public. He went there in order to report on it but was asked to leave. "I pulled out my press pass and they threw me out," he says.
Bátora has confirmed participating in the VF lectures and presenting several of them himself. He is said to know Jan Skácel, the former first Vice-Chair of the National Party (Národní strana - NS), who also attended the December 2005 lecture. Bátora ran on the NS candidate list in 2006 as an independent. He was greatly criticized for that decision when he was named as a possible candidate for Deputy Education Minister. He is said to not know others who attended the closed lecture, such as Sedláček and Vondrák.
"I feel absolutely no need to explain. As I said, your methods are unequivocally reminiscent of the StB (the communist State Security apparatus) in 1983, and even then I had the right not to say anything. This is not about my wanting or not wanting to use the right to remain silent, but what is happening with me here is really disgusting. I am done with this, I am not going to give any more interviews," Bátora said when asked why he had attended such an event.
The authorities consider the VF to be an ultra-nationalist group. Political scientist Jan Charvát of Charles University in Prague said it was founded in 1993 as a "completely unambiguously fascist organization of the classic neo-fascist type." It gradually underwent various developments and has been inactive during certain periods. "It's one of the groups around which people from the Czech fascist scene and some neo-Nazis move," Charvát said.
Bátora is, according to the available information, also the author of Czech Review (Česká revue - Můj národ a má vlast), published on the "National Idea" (Národní myšlenka) website, a work which in his view is about "the statements and stories of personalities who, like it or not, have influenced and are influencing the development of Czech national awareness." "I restricted myself for each person to a mere six lines at the end of every selection so the reader can be influenced just by the conservative, national bias in the selection of the persons and their quotes," the website quotes Bátora as saying.
One personality mentioned in the work is Rudolf Vrba. According to Michal Frankl, an historian at the Jewish Museum in Prague, Vrba was a Catholic priest and journalist who started working in the Czech public scene during the late 1880s and early 1890s. "He was one of the most vocal Czech anti-Semites of his time," Frankl said. Towards the end of the 19th century, for example, Vrba published a book entitled "National Self-Defense" ("Národní sebeochrana"). "That is really one of the most anti-Semitic Czech books that has ever been published. It blames the Jews for spreading liberalism, for draining the blood of the Czech people, for capitalism, and for socialism," Frankl said.
In his six lines of commentary on Vrba, Bátora states, among other things: "The renown of this Christian/Social national-economic political writer, however, has probably lasted only thanks to his anti-Semitic works, which particularly include 'The Murder in Polná and the Jewish Question in the Austrian Parliament' ('Vražda v Polné a židovská otázka v rakouském parlamentu') or the brilliant 'Adulteration of the Slavs' ('Zkáza Slovanů')."
Frankl says that "Adulteration of the Slavs" (1924), which Bátora calls "brilliant", is a "rather heterogeneous collection of texts" which are connected, among other things, by the thesis that the Jews were responsible for WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. "I consider it strange that he should praise works that are so clearly completely anti-Semitic by a person who was clearly completely anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, what Mr Bátora himself thinks of anti-Semitism and about Jewish people is difficult to judge from that," Frankl said regarding Bátora's commentary. "We could choose to believe that what Mr Bátora is publicly declaring he likes about 'Adulteration of the Slavs' is its anti-Bolshevism or anti-communism," the historian said.
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