Sokol Movement Celebrates Its Memorial Day in Brno

Sokol, the Czech gymnastics and physical training movement that was heavily persecuted by the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, held its annual memorial day on October 7th and 8th, featuring a series of commemorative events and municipal memorials. Photo: Special Sokol stamp 2019 / Brno Daily.

Brno, October 9 (BD) – The Sokol Movement, a gymnastics and physical training movement popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the Czech Lands, came under heavy persecution from both the Nazis and the Czechoslovak communist regime, due to its association with the Czech nationalist struggle. Although Sokol now has far fewer members than at its pre-war peak, Sokol Memorial Day is marked across the country each year, both in recognition of the movement’s contribution to the Czech resistance movements, and in remembrance of the sacrifice made by many of its members, several of whom have given their names to streets around Brno. A number of commemorative events took place this year on October 7th and 8th.

Highlights included guided tours of the former prison on Cejl, which held many political prisoners at various times, and the Sokol Stadium on Kounicová. There was also a reception in the offices of the South Moravian Region on the morning of October 8th, attended by delegations from foreign branches of the movement, and ceremonial stones were laid in Brno and Svitávka commemorating the disappeared members of the movement.

As well as these events, the municipality recognised the memorial day in various ways: Sokol flags flew outside Brno City Hall and the South Moravian Regional Office, as well as on all Brno Public Transport Company vehicles; the fountain outside Janacek Theatre was illuminated with the Sokol symbol; all films at Kino Scala over the two days were preceded with short informational addresses about Sokol; and information boards were placed on streets around Brno named after prominent Sokol members, including Grohova, Tomesova, Jana Uhra, and Kladivova.

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