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Objects of WarThe Material Culture of Conflict and Displacement$
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Leora Auslander and Tara Zahra

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781501720079

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501720079.001.0001

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Pretty Things, Ugly Histories

Pretty Things, Ugly Histories

Decorating with Persecuted People’s Property in Central Bohemia, 1938–1958

(p.78) 3 Pretty Things, Ugly Histories
Objects of War

Cathleen M. Giustino

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes how four successive regimes in Czechoslovakia made use of stolen things to reinforce their power between 1938 and 1958. Each regime used this property to legitimate their rule, reward loyalty, and construct new historical and national narratives. Chateaux that had been the residences of Czech nobles were appropriated first for Nazi use, then reclaimed immediately after World War II and transformed from enemy property into a form of national patrimony that symbolized the cleansing of Germans from “Czech” space. Each of these redeployments of the buildings required reallocation of their contents and a reconceptualization of whether those household furnishings' purpose in life was to be used in the present or preserved for the future.

Keywords:   Czechoslovakia, stolen things, property, chateaux, Czech nobles, Nazis, World War II, national patrimony, household furnishings

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