There are few European regions where sport and gymnastics were of such political importance in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as in the former Czechoslovakia, which formed part of the Habsburg monarchy until 1918 and split into the Czech (the historical Bohemian lands) and Slovak Republics after the end of the Cold War. The Sokol (“Falcon”) gymnastic movement was of utmost importance to Czech national emancipation, but organized sport often had a political undertone among other nationalities, too. In the interwar period multi-ethnic Czechoslovakia was one of the leading states in European sport; after 1945, the Communist regime “reorganized” sport and used it as a means of propaganda. Until recently, publications on sport in the region were mainly descriptive in character; historians, both nationally and internationally, showing little interest in the subject. But this has changed, and interesting and fruitful research on different aspects of the subject has emerged over recent years.

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