Congratulations to Karel Schwarzenberg on his 80th Birthday

In the name of the members of the Board of Directors and Supervisory Body of the ČSDS and of our executive team, and in the name of František Janouch and Ľubomír Ďurovič, cofounders of the original Czechoslovak Centre of Independent Literature, we sincerely congratulate Karel Schwarzenberg on his 80th birthday today. In addition, we attach congratulations and recollections from the former General Secretary of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights; they can be found here in the original English and in Czech translation.

We also attach congratulations from Vancouver-based Markéta Goetz-Stankiewicz, who stood at the cradle of the documentation centre in exile. She writes: “I only met Prince Schwarzenberg on three occasions: for the first time years ago in Scheinfeld in Germany; on the second occasion in Ottawa in Canada; and for the third time not long ago in Prague. With the passing of the years, I can only from a distance follow the lifelong pilgrimage of this unique man who leaves behind him a path illuminated for countless people. I thank him from my heart for that illumination.”


Karel Schwarzenberg with Milan Šimečka and Jiřina Šiklová in her apartment in summer 1990 (personal archive of Jiřina Šiklová).

The Festschrift Karel Schwarzenberg, český vlastenec a Evropan (Karel Schwarzenberg, Czech Patriot and European) has been prepared by the ČSDS with the support of Foundation Charter 77. It is in honour not only of a close colleague, thanks to whose generous support from November 1986 the full development of the exiled centre’s activity at Castle Schwarzenberg was possible, but also of a personality who in the last few decades played a uniquely essential role in European public life. The editors Vilém Prečan and Miloslava Slavíčková conceived the Festschrift as a guide to the range of operations, values and intellectual interests spanned in the worlds of Karel Schwarzenberg. They explain their intention in the afterword:

“We let ourselves be guided by the motto: ‘Less can be more’. We have tried to create as faithful portrait as possible of this multisided European personality without producing some heavy tome that would discourage our readers. For those who need to know more, there is a bibliography attached. We have allowed ourselves the luxury of being extra thorough in one thing. Few people in Czechia know anything about the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights that, in the time of its greatest activity, was inseparably linked with the name of its chairman Karel Schwarzenberg. We have used this opportunity to make good this deficit.“

The book can be ordered from the director of the ČSDS, Helena Kašová, at the e-mail address or purchased in person at the seat of the ČSDS in the National Museum (in this case please let us know beforehand, using the above e-mail address).

In honour of the celebration we are also making available Vilém Prečan’s commentary of 2005, Návrat Schwarzenbergů do aktivní evropské politiky v osmdesátých letech dvacátého století (The return of the Schwarzenbergs to active European politics in the 1980s).

You will also be able to enjoy online the video clip of congratulations of colleagues and friends of Karel Schwarzenberg (Barbara Coudenhove-Kalergi, Jan and Luboš Dobrovský, Fedor Gál, Vladimír Hanzel, Milan Horáček, Petr Kolář, Miroslav Kalousek, Petr Pithart, Vilém Prečan, Ladislav Snopko, Jiřina Šiklová, Alexandra Vondra, Kateřina Weissová and Michael Žantovský). The video, which was made with the support of Foundation Charter 77, was prepared by Dominik Jůn. It will be available from Tuesday 12 December on our YouTube channel.