Prague Slavic Congress, 1848
The Prague Slavic Congress of 1848 (also known as the Pan-Slav Congress of 1848) took place in Prague between June 2 and June 12, 1848. It was first of several times that voices from all Slav populations of Central Europe were heard in one place. The meeting was meant to be a show of resistance to German nationalism in the city of Prague in the predominantly Slavic Kingdom of Bohemia, which in spite of that was for many centuries a part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Several other Slavic Congresses were held in different eastern European cities over the next 100 years.
Pan-Slavism developed over time leading up to the Congress in 1848. The development of some sort of national identity helped to unite the Slavic lands against the increasing German nationalism. The identification of these lands as Slavic does not mean that they are all the same. Within the overarching Slavic category, there are many other groups such as Poles, Czechs and Slovenes.
The exact goal of the Congress was unclear even as it was beginning. In addition to lacking a goal, the conference planners also quarreled over the format and the agenda of the gathering. Perhaps this was an indication of how difficult the conference would be for the factions to come together.
Once underway, the conference met in three sections: Poles and Ukrainians; South Slavs; and Czecho-Slovaks. The Pole-Ukrainian section contained a combination of Ruthenes, Mazurians, Greater Poles, and Lithuanians. Of the total 340 delegates at the Congress, the greatest number came from the Czecho-Slovak section. 237 Czecho-Slovaks participated along with 42 South Slavs and 61 Pole-Ukrainian. German was the primary language used during discussions.
During the Congress, there was debate about the role of Austria in the lives of the Slavs. Dr. Josef Frič argued that the “primary goal is the preservation of Austria”, adding that the Congress “only differs on the means.” This point was disputed by Ľudovít Štúr who told the Congress, “our goal is self-preservation”. Such a disconnect was typical of the environment of this conference.
One important statement did come out of the conference around June 10, when the Manifesto to the Nations of Europe was pronounced. The statement was a strongly worded proclamation that demanded an end to the oppression of the Slav people. It’s important to note that the Slavs did not look for any type of revenge. Rather they wanted to “extend a brotherly hand to all neighbouring nations who are prepared to recognize and effectively champion with us the full equality of all nations, irrespective of their political power or size”. This was an important development because it indicated some sort of unity among all of the Slav people of Europe.
The Congress was cut short on June 12, when fighting broke out on the streets. This later became known as the Whitsuntide events because of the timing during the Christian holiday of Pentecost. The delegates left in disgust and some were even arrested because of the revolutionary nature of the Congress.
- František Palacký, Czech historian, oversaw the entire conference as president.
- Stanko Vraz, Slovene-Croatian poet, vice-president of congress.
- Karol Libelt, from Prussian Poznan, was the chairman of the Poles and Ukrainians.
- Pavo Stamatović, from Serbia, was the chairman of the South Slavs.
- Pavel Jozef Šafárik, from Hungary, was the chairman of the Czecho-Slovaks.
- Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian Pan-Slavist who subsequently became an Anarchist.
- Jovan Subotić, Serbian poet, lawyer and politician, was in attendance.
- Magocsi, Paul R.; Pop, Ivan Ivanovich (2002). Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture. University of Toronto Press. p. 373. ISBN 9780802035660. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
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- (Polišenský 147)
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- Logan, H.V.: Helasia a New Force that was Never Recognised. London: The Palmer Press, 1956
- Orton, Lawrence D.: The Prague Slav Congress of 1848. New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.
- Polišenský, Josef: Aristocrats and the Crowd in the Revolutionary Year 1848. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980.