Ferdinand Peroutka Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
The collection of the Czech journalist, dramatist and director of the Czechoslovak section of Radio Free Europe, Ferdinand Peroutka (1895–1978), contains unique sources for the history of the Czechoslovak exile after 1948.
Strahovské nádvoří 1, 118 38 Praha 1 - Hradčany, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Ferdinand Peroutka (1895-1978)
Provenance and cultural activities
Ferdinand Peroutka was a Czech journalist and dramatist who became famous during the interwar First Czechoslovak Republic. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he was arrested and held in Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps until 1945. Peroutka, who opposed communism, was briefly a member of the Czechoslovak Provisional National Assembly after the war. In 1948, after some discriminatory measures were taken against him, he decided to emigrate to the West. In the United States he participated in the foundation of Radio Free Europe and in 1951 he was appointed director of its Czechoslovak section. He also became a member of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia, which represented Czechoslovak democratic politicians who left their country for exile after 1948. However, his preserved correspondence shows that he was not content with his life in exile and that he did not accept the American way of life. Moreover, Peroutka, who was a well-known journalist in interwar Czechoslovakia and had literary ambitions, suffered in exile from the absence of an audience and reactions to his work. As he wrote in his diaries, he was aware of losing his status and fame. Therefore, his desire to bring his thoughts to readers and listeners could have served as a motivation for collecting and preserving his writings. Today he is considered one of the most important Czech journalists of the twentieth century. Thus, since 1995 the “Ferdinand Peroutka Award” has been given to prominent journalists and publicists in the Czech Republic.
The biggest part of the collection was donated to the Museum of Czech Literature in 1999 by Peroutka’s wife Jaroslava (Slávka). It reflects Peroutka’s activities in exile after 1948, mainly in the United States. A smaller part of the collection comes from Peroutka’s daughter Eva and dates back to the interwar First Czechoslovak Republic.
The Museum of Czech Literature also participates in the popularisation of Ferdinand Peroutka’s life and work. It cooperates with the Karel Čapek Memorial in Stará Huť in the Central Bohemian Region. Since 1998, one permanent exposition of the memorial is dedicated to Ferdinand Peroutka, a close friend of the famous Czech writer and dramatist Karel Čapek. The Museum of Czech Literature also helps to disseminate Ferdinand Peroutkaʼs legacy among young people, and that is why, in 2016, it organised a programme for high school students devoted to Ferdinand Peroutka.
Description of content
The collection contains private documents, incoming and outgoing correspondence, his own and others‘ manuscripts, prints, paper clippings, photographs, audio and video recordings. The collection is stored in 16 cartons.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 500-999
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 10-99
- photos: 500-999
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
- Peroutka, Ferdinand. 1985. Muž přítomnosti. Zürich: Konfrontace.
Author(s) of this page
- Kůželová, Michaela
ÚČL AV ČR. 2006. "Slovník české literatury po roce 1945: Ferdinand Peroutka." Last modified November 30. http://www.slovnikceskeliteratury.cz/showContent.jsp?docId=428.
Kosatík, Pavel. 2011. Ferdinand Peroutka: pozdější život (1938–1978). Praha: Mladá fronta.
PNP. 2017. Výroční zpráva 2016." Accessed October 17. http://www.pamatniknarodnihopisemnictvi.cz/content/fck/files/VyrocniZpravaPNP2016.pdf.
Literární archiv Památníku národního písemnictví. 2006. Ferdinand Peroutka (1895–1978) - soupis osobního fondu. Praha: Literární archiv PNP. Accessible at http://www.badatelna.eu/fond/2588/uvod/8554.
Peroutka, Ferdinand, and Slávka Peroutková, ed. 1995. Deníky, dopisy, vzpomínky. Praha: NLN.
The description of this collection was created with the kind help of the director of the Museum of Czech Literature (PNP) Mgr. Zdeněk Freisleben, the head of the Literary Archive of the PNP PhDr. Tomáš Pavlíček, PhD., and the curator of the Literary Archive of the PNP PhDr. Petr Kotyk.
Kotyk, Petr, interview by Kůželová, Michaela, November 15, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection