On this day June 2, 1848

As part of the Pan-Slavism movement, the Prague Slavic Congress began in Prague, one of the few times that voices from all Slav populations of Europe were heard in one place.Slavic

The Slavic Peoples are an ethnic and linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly in eastern and central Europe.

From the early 6th century they spread from their original homeland (most commonly thought to be in Eastern Europe) to inhabit most of eastern Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Many settled later in Siberia and Central Asia or emigrated to other parts of the world. Over half of Europe is, territorially speaking, inhabited by Slavic-speaking communities.

Modern nations and ethnic groups called by the ethnonym “Slavs” are considerably genetically and culturally diverse and relations between them are varied, ranging from a sense of connection to feelings of mutual resentment.

The exact goal of the Congress was unclear even as it was beginning. In addition to lacking a goal, the conference planners also quarreled over the format and the agenda of the gathering (Orton 57). Perhaps this was an indication of how difficult the conference would be for the factions to come together.

Once underway, the conference met in three sections: Poles and Ukrainians; South Slavs; and Czecho-Slovaks. The Pole-Ukrainian section contained a combination of Ruthenes, Mazurians, Wielopolaks, and Lithuanians (Orton 62). Of the total 340 delegates at the Congress, the greatest number came from the Czecho-Slovak section. 237 Czecho-Slovaks participated along with 42 South Slavs and 61 Pole-Ukrainian (Orton 63). Ironically, German was the primary language used during discussions.

During the Congress, there was debate about the role of Austria in the lives of the Slavs. Dr. Josef Fric argued that the “primary goal is the preservation of Austria”, adding that the Congress “only differs on the means.” (Orton 69) This point was disputed by Ľudovít Štúr who told the Congress, “our goal is self-preservation”. (Orton 69) Such a disconnect was typical of the environment of this conference.

One important statement did come out of the conference around June 10, when the Manifesto to the Nations of Europe was pronounced. The statement was a strongly worded proclamation that demanded an end to the oppression of the Slav people (Orton 87). It’s important to note that the Slavs did not look for any type of revenge (Orton 88).

Rather they wanted to “extend a brotherly hand to all neighbouring nations who are prepared to recognize and effectively champion with us the full equality of all nations, irrespective of their political power or size”. (Orton 88). This was an important development because it indicated some sort of unity among all of the Slav people of Europe (Polišenský 147).

The Congress was unfortunately cut short on June 12, when fighting broke out on the streets (Orton 86). This later became known as the Whitsuntide events because of the timing during the Christian holiday of Pentecost. The delegates left in disgust and some were even arrested because of the revolutionary nature of the Congress (Orton 86).

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