Although one of your clergymen, as was recently reported in a newspaper, claims that the independent state of Bohemia lasted only twenty years, I am convinced that other scholars of your country condemn such narrow views. Let me remind you that this is not the first time that Czechs have had the opportunity to fight for the freedom of the European spirit.
Who bravely defended the idea of free Christianity, and been accused of heresy?
Who defended the idea of democracy, and was accused of Bolshevism?
Hussitism was blamed for destroying churches and artistic monuments; it was blamed for dragging the whole nation into poverty. So many reasons can be found if one’s goal is to suppress the freedom of thought!
I also once thought it would be a sin to destroy a Rubens painting, to burn a beautiful building. Today I no longer think so. And neither will anyone who is experiencing or has experienced the oppression of free human life or free human thought. For if free human thought and free human life are oppressed, no beautiful painting or beautiful building will be created. Therefore it is more acceptable to allow beautiful monuments of the human spirit to be destroyed than to destroy the fruitfulness of the human spirit itself.
That is why it now does not seem to me such a terrible thought that the monuments of the Czech nation should be destroyed, but only that the freedom of its spirit might be undermined. Today I understand that the medieval reformers destroyed temples; without their vandalism there would have been a stunting of the human spirit; without the barbarism of the vandals there would have been the decadence of antiquity; without the destruction of revolutions there would have been the crippling of human society.
I don't ever want to listen to the lamentations of some human society's monument conservation office again.
You, gentlemen, who possess precious collections, do not blame the revolutionaries if they do not entirely share your feelings. If nature had followed your directives, you would never have been born. Don't worry, the best of human activity is almost immortal. And if now and then something goes in vain and unnecessarily, there is still plenty left to admire and to learn from.
You in England, you have many people who have rich collections, and you all cling to old habits. But who among us does not live in bondage to them? But I digress.
I would like to thank London radio for reporting yesterday how Czechs brought flowers, most of them primroses, to the Hus monument in Old Town Square and arranged them to spell the words “Truth Shall Prevail”, which was changed into the shape of a chalice upon “agreement” with the police.
Oh please, announce on the London radio that the Czechs are not merely the poor people whose country is sung about in the English song about good King Wenceslas. Tell them that it was in the 15th century that we defended the progressive ideas of your clergyman Wycliffe. Even then, a part of your nation thought Wycliffe was a heretic. But you let him live peacefully in the countryside. Central Europe was already more violent and explosive than your island empire. I know that at the Council of Constance, the English came out against Huss with some letters from Oxford University. I know that even today there are people among you who agree with the above-mentioned uneducated priest who claimed that there is no need to worry about a state that lasted only twenty years.