Hugo Rokyta

1912 (Kamiensk, Northern Moravia) - 1999 (Moravske Budejovice, Czech Republic)

Professor für vergleichende Bildungslehre

"Is there still a need for an explicit commitment to the view that we must all take shared responsibility for the continuation of human existence, and must therefore raise our voices against all heresies on the countenance of our brotherhood in order to declare our belief, along with all mankind, that there must be no human, political or cultural goal that can be achieved only by threatening another section of humanity?"

(Josef) Hugo Rokyta was born in Kamiensk, Northern Moravia on 24 November 1912. His father was an interior designer and belonged to the circle associated with Adolf Loos. Hugo Rokyta spent his childhood in Brno, where he was a member of the Catholic youth movement. Between 1931 and 1938 he studied in Prague at Charles University (history, history of art and Slavic philology), at the German University (German language and literature and social anthropology) and Prague University of Politics and Diplomacy (political science and the history of the Curia). He made study trips to Budapest, Vienna, Breslau, Paris and Salzburg. In 1938 he became the youngest ever parliamentary secretary in the Prague House of Deputies, for the German Christian Social Party and its ministers, and he was the publisher and editor of the monthly publication Abendland - Unabhängige deutsche europäische Stimmen für christliche Gesellschaftserneuerung ("The West – Independent German European Voices for Christian Social Renewal").

In 1939, after German troops entered Prague, he was arrested and taken to Dachau Concentration Camp and subsequently to Buchenwald. Together with Emil Filla, Josef Frank and others he drew up family trees for the SS in the genealogical unit. He gave lectures on the politics of culture to his fellow inmates. With the help of the International Red Cross he was released on 17 June 1944.

In 1946 Rokyta returned to the Charles University in Prague, where in 1952 he gained his doctorate with a thesis on the Old Czech legend of St Catherine in the fourteenth century. He became a reader for the state publishing house Orbis and edited books on works of art in their regional context and on social anthropology. He worked in the preservation of historical monuments, and as a translator. For political reasons Rokyta was banned from publishing or travelling and was prevented from qualifying to teach at a university. In 1965 he received the University of Vienna’s Gottfried Herder Prize, and in 1969 the University of Salzburg awarded him an honorary professorship in comparative educational theory with special reference to the Bohemian and Moravian regions. He taught at Salzburg University until 1996.

Hugo Rokyta died in Třeboň on 16 March 1999.