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Illegal Anti-Habsburg Brochure Printed in Berlin

Pláč Koruny České čili upřjmná slowa Staro-Čecha propowěděná milým kraganum léta bjdy 1866 [Lamentation of the Bohemian Crown or heartfelt words of an Old-Czech, held forth to his dear compatriots in the year of sorrow 1866].

Berlin: Trowitzsch und Sohn, 1866. Octavo (19 × 10.5 cm). Original printed self-wrappers with brown paper spinestrip and title vignette; 16 pp. Paper evenly toned due to stock, else very good.

Illegally published pamphlet urging Czech independence from Austro-Hungary. Published anonymously in Berlin during the Austro-Prussian War (1866), it was written by Anton Kotik (1840–?) and reflects the political ambitions of Czech journalist and writer Josef F. Frič and Count Rudolf von Thurn und Taxis. After a long list of injustices the Czech people have suffered at the hands of Austria, Kotik argues for a radical divorce from the Austrian government and an independent Czech state under Prussian patronage. Unrealistically though these aims were, the brochure was effectively intended to cause an armed uprising against Austria in the summer of 1866. Because it could not be published in Bohemia, Kotik and Frič traveled to Berlin, where they reached an agreement with the publisher (Thurn und Thaxis provided the funding). Trowitzsch und Sohn were able to set the book in the Czech Schwabacher type, which was no longer used in Bohemia at the time. The booklets reached Prague around August 23, just as the Peace of Prague was being signed. But though this meant that the Prussian troops would leave Prague, the brochure still caused a great stir among Czech intellectuals and led to great vigilance by the Austrian police. It was immediately forbidden and its possession repeatedly prosecuted. Ignát Herrmann recounts that many readers burned the brochure afterwards, fearing punishment. Because of its scarcity, other patriots copied it by hand and distributed it among their friends (Sebrané spisy, vol. 24, p. 174). Miraculously, the Austrian authorities were unable to determine the real author, despite the fact that one of the main distributors was imprisoned for twelve months. Kotik only revealed himself to be the author in 1919, shortly after the declaration of Czechoslovak independence and the establishment of the First Republic, when he reprinted the pamphlet with his commentary. Kotik passed away soon after, in the knowledge that the decade-long struggle had not been in vain. Outside the Czech Republic, KVK and OCLC only show the copy at Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

Book ID: P003661

Price: $650.00