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Friends' Lecture 20/09/22: How the Czech Aristocracy Lost Their Castles in the 20th Century

AristoMockup2A guide to the development of the ownership of historic houses in Czech lands since 1918. A Lecture by Milan Svoboda on Tuesday 20th September 2022 at 6.30pm in the Czech Embassy, London.

From the formation of Czechoslovakia, when the first president T.G. Masaryk abolished aristocratic titles, and his land reform deprived many estates of their main source of income, the lecture covered every stage of the turbulent events that changed the ownership of historic properties. In 1938, after the Munich Agreement, the Czech aristocracy declared its allegiance to President Beneš, but the Nazi occupiers demanded a declaration of German nationality in order to avoid confiscation. Some properties were returned to their owners in 1945, but communist confiscations after February 1948 brought in a completely new, state system of ownership. Restitution laws after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 have created a variety of ownerships in the new democracy - state and municipal, and private.

Milan Svoboda has long experience of managing state-owned castles and châteaux in addition to working for the private heritage sector. He has worked on the transfer of properties and collections to their original owners. He is a historian and former Deputy Director of the National Heritage Institute. He lectures at Charles University in Prague and is a member of the executive committee of The Association of the Private Owners of Castles and Châteaux.


Archive images courtesy of the management, Château of Skalice. Two images from Creative Commons: Czechoslovak communist state arms © T. Ferenczy; Skalice today © Maison Beige

Review of Milan Svoboda's lecture, September 2022
Exhibition of the work of The Friends in Prague

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