Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Josef Škvorecký books and The Miracle Game

Josef Škvorecký with his wife Zenda Salivarová have a publishing house in Toronto, Sixty-Eight Publishers, which published banned Czech and Slovak books. For this, after the Velvet Revolution Vaclav Havel gave them the Order of the White Lion. Škvorecky, born in northern Bohemia September 24, 1924 died on January 3, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.
I loved his Lieutenant Barovky books. Years ago I read some of them from a library and I know that Czechs love those books too. Today I want to talk about The Miracle Game. This really and truly happened.In a village near us, Číhošt, not in northern Bohemia as is protrayed in the book. There are perhaps two reasons for this. First, Škvorecký was born in Nachod and attended school there. He would have been most familiar with the towns, villages, hills, forests, valleys, much more familiar than with Číhošt. Another very strong reason he might have had would have been to protect the people of this small village from reprisals from the secret police.
The secret police accused Father Josef Toufar of staging a fake miracle in 1949. The miracle was the tipping and swaying of a cross in the church. Today there is still no explanation of why the cross moved. Father Toufar had his back to this cross during Mass. Secret police worked in the church for awhile, hitching up wires under the cross. This did not make the cross move. Then they tortured Fr. Toufer trying to get him to admit he'd faked this. He is buried in the church yard after having been tortured to death in 1950.
Thus began the persecution of the clergy, nuns, and monks. Many were imprisoned; 65 died in prison.or were executed there. The secret police made a movie. First they dressed Toufar and propped him up. He fainted, went into a coma, and died. Then they dressed up a secret police in robes and used wires in the church. This movie was released for all of Czechoslovkia, but it was never shown in towns near Číhošt.
As a side note, Číhošt is at the geographical crossroads of the Czech Republic. Go there and ask someone to show you the exact spot.