Václav Chaloupecký and Daniel Rapant – a Troubled Relationship

Václav Chaloupecký a Daniel Rapant - trauma z blízkosti

The story of the Slovak inter-war historiography cannot be conceptualized without reconstruction of the relationship between its founders. The most important among them were Václav Chaloupecký, the first Czech professor of Czechoslovak history at the Comenius University, and his successor – after Chaloupecký's forced departure from Slovakia in late 1938 – the first professional Slovak archivist and historian professor Daniel Rapant. The inter-war era of the Slovak historiography cannot be fully understood without putting Chaloupecký and Rapant in comparison. Their mutual relationship has been hitherto understood as mere rivalry. This article offers a different reading of their relationship as a kind of mutual dependence that was based upon similar experiences, some of them traumatizing. Though they belonged to different generations, both Chaloupecký and Rapant were pupils of Josef Pekař, the doyen of Czech national history, at the Charles University in Prague. Moreover their focus on Slovak history was influenced by the same regional memory. Chaloupecký's wife – the notable modernist Slovak poet Ludmila Groeblová – was born in Holíč, the very same town Daniel Rapant originated from. Chaloupecký and Rapant represent two examples of how the Slovak national story could have been conceptualized through different perspectives. Chaloupecký's Czechoslovakism is often understood as a politics promoted through historiography. The article however reveals the fact that Rapant's scientific career was also "backed" by one of the key members of the Slovak wing of the Agrarian Party, the then Prime Minister Milan Hodža. Two crucial hitherto unknown documents are disclosed in this study: Chaloupecký's letter to Rapant dealing with their relationship and final dispute in 1931, and a transcript of M. Hodža's phone call in early 1938, in which he used his influence to promote the process of awarding Rapant with regular professorship.