Section navigation: About the Archive
History of the Archives
The Archives of Prague Castle in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic came into being in 1920. Their beginnings are linked with the peace treaties following the end of the First World War and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
The 1920-1945 Period
The Archives of Prague Castle in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic came into being in 1920. Their beginnings are linked with the peace treaties following the end of the First World War and the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Apart from the Archives in Prague Castle (APC) there were also established in the Czechoslovak Republic (CZR) at approximately the same time the Archives of the Ministry of the Interior (1919), the State Agricultural Archives (1919), the Archives of the National Assembly (1920), the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Archives of the Ministry of National Defence (1920).
The APC then, thanks to a happy constellation of personalities and politics, won themselves the position of the "family silver" of the new Czechoslovak archive system in the twenties and the thirties.
The first Castle Archivist was Dr. Jan Morávek, a supporter of the subordination of the archive network of the new state to the Ministry of Education and National Revival (MŠANO) who was in favour of the establishment of the single National Czechoslovak Archives.
Dr. Jan Morávek participated in the seeking out, separation and returning to Prague of the documents stored in the Imperial Archives in Vienna. This so-called archival and documentary separation between the Czechoslovak Republic and the Republic of Austria was completed in 1923. Thanks to this there were returned to the Czech archives not only the written memorabilia and documents necessary for the functioning and operation of the new state, but also archive material of permanent historical and heuristic value.
For the growing collections of the APC space was found in the vaulted rooms of the South Wing of the New Palace of Prague Castle, at the level of the future South Gardens of Plečnik.
In these vaulted rooms the official records had already been stored in the second half of the 17th century. Apart from the memorabilia brought from Vienna there were also gradually amassed here the collections of written material, the "archives" of offices active before the new state had come into being. These were, in particular, the documents of the Court Building Office (Hofbauamt), the Castle Inspection (Schloss-Inspection, up to 1860) and the Castle Regional Authority (Schloss-Hauptmannschaft, from the years 1860-1918).
Together with the organization of the fonds and collections taken over from the Castle and from the Austrian archives a reference library (from 1921) began to be built up and there was amassed a collection of graphic works, newspaper cuttings, excerpts from foreign archives (Sweden, Austria) and posters for cultural events held in the Castle. The situation in the workplace was also regularly documented photographically, and stored in written form in documents (in the office files).
The Archives were used by a considerable number of research workers from Czech and foreign centers. The collections were very intensively consulted by the Czechoslovak Ministries (especially MŠANO) and by the Chancellery of the President of the CZR which was, after the establishment of the new state, entrusted with the care of the historical Castle as a whole (within the framework of Building Administration).
The Archives, in the person of their head, participated in the preparation of the Archives Law of the Czechoslovak Republic, the first concept of which was already prepared by the end of 1923, but because of interdepartmental ambiguities it had not been passed by the end of the 1st Republic. The Castle Archives received important acknowledgement when they were invited to the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture in Brno (1928).
The busy research and organization programme of the Archives of Prague Castle was interrupted by the occupation of the Czechoslovak Republic in March 1939, especially in the later years of the war. The Archives Department established in the Office of the German Protector did not carry out any repressive actions in the Castle Archives similar to those in some other workplaces, but the archives here were, of course, affected by the newly executed German Document and Archive Separation. On the basis of this there were gradually sent to Vienna from 1940 onwards, by reason of "original provenance", some of the archive material relating to the separated border region on the one hand and on the other also a part of the funds from the archival separation of 1920.
To these relatively unprofessional interventions of lesser extent there were then also added restrictions of a racial character from 1941 on, when the access of persons of non-Arian origin to the research rooms was forbidden by order of the German Protector.