Help needed: why so few documentary footnotes in Czech military historiography?

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Help needed: why so few documentary footnotes in Czech military historiography?

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    Hello,


    I am kind of desperate, so I hope somebody in here can help with a question which has bugged me for a while now:


    I am a history student at the University of Copenhagen, and I am writing my master dissertation on the military situation of the Munich crisis of 1938, with my focus on the German and Czechoslovak armies.


    However, while there is a lot of books and academic articles on the subject, I have noticed there is a lack of documentary footnotes in much of the Czech military literature. Only a small number of books have them; some have just a few, while most books have none at all. Academic articles either have a lot, or none at all.


    As an outsider, this puzzles me. What is the reason for this lack of documentary notes? Is this because many works simply aren't academic (or lack academic standard), or is there no strong tradition for documentary footnotes in books (unlike in Germany, for example, who are notorious for books with pages filled with footnotes)? While the former seems to be the obvious one, it seems like more academic-looking works also lack them, and even official works have few or no footnotes? This is weird to me, considering not only German and English academic litterature have them, but also Polish and Russian litterature.


    I hope you can help me with this.


    Thank you in advance!
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539726Verze : 2
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    Hi,
    its quite interesting topic, it never came to my mind like this. We are used to have "footnotes" in the form of separate pages at the end of the books, sometimes referenced directly on the page and place where it should be, sometimes cited only as "resources for chapter xyz" without detailed reference.

    To answer the question why is it like that, I honestly do not know. Even here we are kind if "fighting" with historical study "dualism" - we are not "good enough" to be appreciated by the university teachers and something you would call "academic sphere", because we are "amateurs" (although amateurs with several thousands of articles published in 18 years of existence ... Very Happy ). And vice versa, they will not publish here, because we write about history and let people know it, understand it, have it own opionion. And it comes to me, people in academic circles do not want that. They want to keep their knowledge for themselves. For example, quite significant part of czech military archive documents has been scanned and digitalized, but are only accessible from computer in the archive (so you have to go to that building, same way you would have to if you want paper copy of that document ... compare with Bundesarchiv, NARA, etc ...), which is completly against the idea of digitalisation and possibilities it offers. So, my point is, by strictly referencing and footnoting, you are giving away your knowledge, everyone can access that easily and worst of all, VERIFY if you are right or wrong. And my fear is, some authors here simply do not want that.

    PS. shall you need any help, just let us know !
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539727Verze : 4
    MOD
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    Thank you for the response! Much appreciated!


    That does make some sense - unfortunately.


    The culture of Danish historiography is very much inspired by the German one, so we use a lot of documentary footnotes. In books, articles, school/university papers etc. we are taught that we should document all our claims with foot- or endnotes. Similarily, this is the view of western historiography as well. I like this approach, because this promotes further research. That is also why I was so surprised to find that the Czechs doesn't have the footnotes.


    It is interesting, really. The problem with the German military situation in 1938 is that it isn't documented that much. However, the few German books/articles that do focus on this topic, they are well documented. The Czech side has been thoroughly researched, but lack documentary footnotes.


    Some interesting examples I have come across: official works (such as Vojenské dějiny Československa III. díl: od roku 1918 do roku 1939 from 1987, and Karel Straka's Československá armáda pilíř obrany státu z let 1932–1939 from 2007) have no documentary footnotes, while the Soviet official works on the Red Army in WW2 (Andrej Grechko's Istorija vtoroj mirovoj vojny 1939-1945) do have them. While I can understand why the former doesn't have them (as it is politically biased, it would be easy to repudiate its claims), I can't see why the latter doesn't have them.


    The only author(s) who use them consistenly are Pavel Minařík and Pavel Šrámek - especially their articles and the book Když zemřít tak čestně: Československá armáda v září 1938. While their works are much welcome from the point of view from the Danish-German history tradition, even Šrámek isn't perfect - neither Československa armáda v roce 1938 nor Ve stínu Mnichova, Z historie československé armády 1932-1939 have them.


    Some other authors do have documentary footnotes as well, such as Miloslav John. However, his books have been criticized for errors, which I as well have come across.


    So, I assume that a combination of 1) academics who want to keep the research to themselves, 2) the academic view of popular research as "amateuristic" (although a lot of books - even by scholars - are published in this fashion) is the reason for the lack of footnotes?


    Maybe even combined with the lack of tradition for footnotes dating back to the Communist era?


    And I appreciate any help I can get - my hope is that I can spread this interesting topic (which sadly, in the West, is neglected while the diplomatic side is disproportionally thoroughly researched) to first Danish (and then later English), and to clear out some of the recurring mistakes - especially in regards to the German military situation of the Sudeten crisis.
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539735Verze : 0
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    There is a gap between "popular" and "academic" publications. Authors of publications aimed at ordinary people, like Straka, often can't be bothered with footnotes.
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539736Verze : 0
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    our colleague here Jiří Fidler is well known czech historian (he writes books as well as translates from other languages) with focus on pre-war Czechoslovakia and 1938 mobilisation, he is in the process of writing some comparison book about armies of 1938 - ours, german, polish and so on, as far as I know. As he does not speak english, I will try to forward this to him with some translation Smile He might have some insights into this as well, and help you about the german army of 1938 topic. Are there any specific topics you need to discuss ?


    and yeah, Communist era is a factor to consider. in that time, you either lied (to prefer the USSR version of history), or didn't want to tell the full truth at least. And you didn't want to make any references as well - what if you cite someone, who becomes unpopular to regime ? You are in big trouble then ... Maybe this is the reason as well.
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539737Verze : 1
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    Footnotes make book longer and books with more pages are of course more expensive. So as far as I know the publishing houses are often reluctant to print footnotes/endnotes in popular science books - ordinary people do not read them anyway. From my own reader experience I would say that real scientific literature books are mostly published with footnotes/endnotes. Problem is that there are more popular science books than scientific literature books. Including this topic, or maybe especially in this case. Munich crisis of 1938 and especially some aspects of it are still sensitive for many people.
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539747Verze : 1
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    Citace - Aubi :

    There is a gap between "popular" and "academic" publications. Authors of publications aimed at ordinary people, like Straka, often can't be bothered with footnotes.



    That is true - and that counts for all countries. However, I do still find it fascinating that even works published by the VHÚ - which I would assume would be more academic - are popular works without footnotes.


    On one hand, I can understand that. I was lucky to work as an intern at the Danish Centre for Military History (changed name to Institute for Military History and War Studies this year) at the Royal Danish Defence College, and while research was our primary job, we also worked to promote and spread the knowledge of military history to a wider audience - which includes those with just an average interest in military history (what some would call an "amateur military historian"). But the difference, however, is that even many popular books up here have footnotes. There is of course a lot without them, the general number of popular books with footnotes are is a lot highter. Maybe the reason for this is that Denmark has a stronger tradition for using footnotes - from German influence - and that historians and scholars in Denmark are more willing to be scrutinized and to promote further research. One (non-Danish) example that popular books can use footnotes is Anthony Beevor and his books (this example can, of course, be irrelevant, as Beevor is a special case).


    Citace - Admin :

    our colleague here Jiří Fidler is well known czech historian (he writes books as well as translates from other languages) with focus on pre-war Czechoslovakia and 1938 mobilisation, he is in the process of writing some comparison book about armies of 1938 - ours, german, polish and so on, as far as I know. As he does not speak english, I will try to forward this to him with some translation Smile He might have some insights into this as well, and help you about the german army of 1938 topic. Are there any specific topics you need to discuss ?



    That would be great! I have found quite a bit of German literature on army organisation, plans an the OOB (at least allocation of divisions), but even here I would be happy to get more information. Some specific areas of interest are: locations and, if possible, staging areas of various divisions, (there is some disagreements whether it is located in the Hirschberg-Waldenburg area in Silesia (today Jelenia Góra and Wałbrzych in Poland), or if it was located in Saxony.


    Another area where there is little (and often contradictory, if any at all) information is numbers on Wehrmacht equipment stockpiles/numbers. Most tables, statistics only begin in 1939, so if he has any details here would also be of interest.


    But any help, suggestions etc. are welcome on the subject! Smile


    Citace - Admin :

    and yeah, Communist era is a factor to consider. in that time, you either lied (to prefer the USSR version of history), or didn't want to tell the full truth at least. And you didn't want to make any references as well - what if you cite someone, who becomes unpopular to regime ? You are in big trouble then ... Maybe this is the reason as well.



    Exactly. Especially the promotion of the idea that "France betrayed the Czechs while the Soviets were willing to help" is one that likely would be problematic if it had to be documented.


    Citace - RoBoT :

    Footnotes make book longer and books with more pages are of course more expensive. So as far as I know the publishing houses are often reluctant to print footnotes/endnotes in popular science books - ordinary people do not read them anyway. From my own reader experience I would say that real scientific literature books are mostly published with footnotes/endnotes. Problem is that there are more popular science books than scientific literature books. Including this topic, or maybe especially in this case. Munich crisis of 1938 and especially some aspects of it are still sensitive for many people.



    That I think as well. Když zemřít tak čestně by Šrámek and Minařík is a good example here.


    Unfortunately, the vast majority of works on the Czechoslovak army in the interwar era - and during the Sudeten crisis especially - are popular works. Sensitivity is indeed the likely reason; a Munich complex is still existing, even if time hopefully should reduce its prominence and influence on historians (in various forms it has definitively shaped both the official Communist narrative and the emigrant narrative of historians like Pfaff).


    That is also I hope I can do with this master dissertation. My interest comes without doubt from my half Czech side; but also as a half-Norwegian, I hope that I can have a more balanced perspective on this topic, as I am outsider. I just have to find as many of the academic works as I can, and supplement it with the popular works.
    URL : http://forum.valka.cz/topic/view/184960#539752Verze : 1