«Which Side are You on, Boy?» Roman Jakobson in the Interwar Pragu
The author describes the private life of Roman Jakobson between 1920 and 1939 when he lived in the former Czechoslovakia, first as a Soviet diplomat and later as a scholar caught in a thick web of political intrigues. Using archival documents, the author illustrates Roman Jakobson’s complex and often contradictory relations with the trio of political institutions within whose orbits he was moving: 1) the Ministry of Interior; 2) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; 3) and the Soviet Red Cross Mission/Political Representation in Prague. The reader is invited to assess Jakobson’s loyalties: whether to concur with Georgii Chicherin’s opinion that Jakobson is perhaps “an unreliable but absolutely indispensable” because, as the chief of the Soviet delegation, Antonov-Ovseenko, put it, “a good half of our information comes from him,” or to give credence to the Prague Police Directorate’s portrayal of Jakobson as the resident of “the Third International… charged… with a political mission,” or to accept as fact a testimonial letter by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to which Jakobson not only “wished to help our nation and did help” but “will be able to render very good services to our state also in the future.”
1. Genis, V., 2008. "Of course, Jacobson will be outraged...". Voprosy istorii [Issues of History], 12.
2. Sorokina, M., 2000. "Unreliable, but absolutely indispensable": the 200th anniversary of the Academy of Sciences and the "Masaryk-Jakobson case". In: V. Alloi and T. Pritykina, eds. In Memoriam: Istoricheskii sbornik pamyati A. I. Dobkina [In Memoriam: Historical collection by memory of A. I. Dobkin]. St. Petersburg, Paris.
3. Shubin, A. V. Antonov-Ovseenko V. A. Available at: http://1937god.info/node/ 1689 [Accessed 18 August 2015].
4. Klimek, A., Hofman, P., 1995. Vítěz, který prohrál: Radola Gajda. Paseka.
5. Lukeš, I., 1996. Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy of Edvard Beneš in the 1930s. Oxford.