Resistance and Catharsis: Rumours and Legends of the Second World War in the Czech Lands Cover Image

Rezistence a katarze: fámy a pověsti druhé světové války v českých zemích
Resistance and Catharsis: Rumours and Legends of the Second World War in the Czech Lands

Author(s): Petr Janeček
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Ústav etnológie a sociálnej antropológie Slovenskej akadémie vied
Keywords: rumour; urban legend; 2nd world war; Czech lands; Pérák;

Summary/Abstract: The article analyzes rumours and contemporary legends of the Second World War on the territory of the Czech lands. During these troubled times, oral narratives of this kind represented important communication channel for the local population. Unlike official media controlled by the Nazi occupation forces, rumours and legends distributed inoffical information free of propaganda; however, these narratives have also been full of disinformation and misconception. Most rumours and legends have been connected with uneasy social war-time situation and are site-specific, some of them, like The Car and the Tank legend have been also registered in other European countries. Similar social functions as rumours and legends presented jokes and anecdotes; some of them even used identical motives. The most typical and the most interesting war-time rumours were dealing with urban phantoms: fictional shadowy characters which supposedly scared urban folk of the Czech lands: Czechs and Nazis alike. The most important of these urban phantoms was legendary Spring Man (Pérák), super-heroic character able to jump to fantastic heights because of his spring–heeled boots, Czech parallel of Victorian urban phantom Spring-Heeled Jack from the 19th century England. Most war-time folklore narratives have been closely connected to the unique political and social situation of the Czech lands during the Second Word War; only some actualised anecdotes and character of Spring Man, which has been deeply rooted in Czech popular culture, has remained to this day.

  • Issue Year: 57/2009
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 207 - 219
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Czech