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Czechoslovakia's Future

Nature volume 142, pages 637638 (08 October 1938) | Download Citation



DR. GERALD DRUCE, who was the first English graduate of the Charles University of Prague after the Great War, writes as follows: Relief that war has been averted is shared by the peoples of all nations. Thanks to the uses that would be made of accumulated scientific knowledge and skill, a world war to-day Would be of such intensity and so ruthless that there would be no victory for the victors, whilst the vanquished might well suffer extinction. Mankind has been mercifully spared this fate, but at the expense of a cultured and highly respected, if small, nation. The Czechoslovaks have accepted proposals made “without and against them”, the economic and cultural consequences of which cannot be foreseen. The territory ceded at once includes the whole of the Ore Mountains, so that the mineral wealth of north-west Bohemia will no longer be available for the metallurgical and engineering establishments of Pilsen and Prague. The pitchblende mines of Jáchymov (St. Joachimsthal), together with the radium institute so largely developed by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Health, have also been lost. In this area, too, the Aussig chemical concern has most of its plant and research stations. The economic losses, of which the above are but examples, will necessitate curtailment of expenditure upon scientific and educational work in the residual State. Hitherto, the Czechoslovak Ministry of Education has generously supported the universities and other scientific and educational establishments, but it cannot continue on the same scale that has hitherto been possible. From the maps published in the Press, it appears that Brno (Brünn), the capital of Moravia, is included in one of the areas where a plebiscite is to be held. Should this city, with its university erected after the War and named after President Masaryk, and its technical colleges and museum, be transferred to Germany, it may well be asked how the republic is to continue. The future of the German University of Prague (the only one provided for a minority in Europe) is also a matter for concern. Will the Czechs feel justified in expending money upon it whilst their own establishments languish? Whatever happens, it is highly probable that serious academic research, such as the world has become accustomed to associate with Prague and its ancient university, will be impeded for a long time to come.

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