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Skotsko - československý dům
v Edinburghu

Text je v angličtině

Odhalili jsme tuto desku jako připomínku dobrých vztahů mezi Skotskem a Českou republikou a zároveň jako památník československým vojákům, kteří bojovali za naši svobodu ve druhé světové válce. Právě tento dům v této zemi se stal jejich druhým domovem.

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The Scottish-Czechoslovak House

34 Lauder Road

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We unveiled this plaque to be a reminder of good relations between Scotland and The Czech Republic and as a memororial to the Czechoslovak soldiers who fought for our freedom in the 2nd world war and this house was their home from home and Scotland was their second home.

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The House was founded by Dr Lumír Soukup in 1940 with help of his partner Catriona Murray who later became his wife. He rented this big house from the Scottish Church. During the war the house was empty because children of mission- aries stayed abroad. Lumír financed it with the money he earned by giving public talks. His idea was to create a home from home and a holiday place for our soldiers and airmen who trained and served around the whole of Britain. Later with the British Council it also became a hub for culture with concerts, lectures, talks and exhibitions.

There were 35 beds and there was one room with a gramophone with Czech and Slovak vinyl records, newspapers, our books, board games and a piano!

In June 1944 in the Scotsman newspaper Lumir published an article explaining the purpose of the house and asking readers for a volley ball net on a loan or as a gift as the game was the most popular for our soldiers. The housekeeper always called the soldiers ‘her boys’.

Lumír got his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh for work on president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and he spent his whole life promoting our culture and language in Scotland.

His early efforts were noticed by Jan Masaryk, Foreign minister of the Czechoslovak government in exile. Lumír was a founder of the Scottish-Czechoslovak Society and he ran the House for some time before Jan Masaryk came to Edinburgh to give a public talk. Finally they met for the first time. Lumír and Catriona became friends and neighbours with Olga Masaryk Revilliod who lived with her sons Leonard and Herbert in Edinburgh. They also visited this place as shown in the picture from 1944 (Mr and Mrs Soukup with Herbert before going to Tiree with RAF).

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Photo of the house from 1944 and today.

From Lumír’s book Moments with Jan Masaryk:

Page 30

     One day I picked up the phone in the Scottish-Czechoslovak House when I heard: “Jan Masaryk would like to talk to you. Can you come to ... “

     Minister Masaryk was invited to Edinburgh by organisation that was pub- lishing The Geographical Magazine. I had tried to reach him many times before but his office always answered that the minister is not available. Now Masaryk was asking me if I am free and if I can come for afternoon tea at 4pm.

     I was pleased to go. I knocked on the door, he asked “Who is there?” When I answered my name, he asked if I am alone. Then he opened, just with towel around his neck. He invited me in, ask to wait when he gets dry and then asked if cakes in Edinburgh are good, asking for recommendations. He order them on the phone.


     I doubt, that in all history, that any minister of Foreign Affairs met his future undersecretary naked. He started talking about his previous day, that at his sis- ter’s Olga house (2 Rillbank Cresent) he had met University rector Mr Cairns who lent him his theses on his father. He said: I don’t have your education but one day I will take you to Lány and we will see, if you will be praised or if you get a belting. Unfortunately it never happened.

     He was asking me about the Scottish-Czechoslovak house, about my work, budget and expenses of the house. Jan didn’t want to believe that I run the house without any financial help and told me that it must be changed and he named me Director of Information centre for Scotland. Catriona became a spokeswoman. He wanted me to have more contact with influencing people and newspapers. If I would become a representant of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I will get to wider circles. When I mentioned that I am financially self sufficient, he asked me to stop and leave it on him. We need to show them our colours and he said that he will leave it up to me how we are going to wave with our tricolour. I suggested organising talks around Scotland. He agreed and invited me for dinner. When I was leaving after 2am, he gave me a brown suitcase full of documents. He asked me to organised a safe in a bank as Scotland was a safer place when there was bombing in London. That night I became his undersecretary. He kept sending more things until 1947.

Page 31

     One day after his talk, when all the public had left, he stayed in the House. He talked with our soldiers and airmen, drink- ing coffee and letting others to smoke his cigarettes.

     After midnight I told him that the boys often listen to national songs and more often play and sing themselves. So he went to the piano and he started playing various Czech, Moravian and Slovak songs. So we sang and listened over 2 hours. Our happiness to sadness, laughter to tears on our faces and in our hearts accompanied Jan Masaryk performance.

     Another time when he played for about 20 soldiers and airmen, he sent them to bed. He was also minister of defence so he could tell them. Boys didn’t want to go and Jan said, that he is an elderly and can’t stay up all night. But one boy said a joke and Jan loved jokes so then everyone joined.

     Already during the WW1 Great Britain became the centre for exile activities of TGM as he was aiming for the independent Czechoslovakia and he visited Edinburgh in 1916 and 1917.

     His letters with Edinburgh friend Mr Charles Sarolea are available at Edinburgh University Library.

     In 1935 Edvard Beneš was elected 2nd president. After Munich during his time in London, he also started with Jan Masaryk and others working on restoring independent Czechoslovakia.

     His visit in Scotland was part of his struggles for renewal of our country. He talked here about war, democratic ideals and aims for freedom and future peace. He also visited the Czechoslovak military unit as paratroopers like Gabcik and Kubis who arrived shortly before him.

     In 1941 our provisional government in London was recognised as the official representative of Czechoslovakia. After signing the Atlantic charter our Army became part of Anti-German Alliance. Czech lands went through occupation, Hitler wanted liquidation of our nation and the Holocaust started. While Beneš was in Scotland, he appreciated the organisations which expanded Scottish-Czechoslovak relations.

     There was the Slavonic Society, Students Union, Centre for the Scottish-Czechoslovak Christian Fellowship, Scottish Committee for the Welfare of the Czechoslovak Troops in Great Britain and in Aberdeen there was the Society of Friends of Czechoslovakia (Quakers). Their activities developed many contacts between our soldiers and people of Scotland.


President Beneš entered the house under the Czechoslovak and Scottish Royal standard crossed flags. At the door he was offered bread and salt and Scotsman newspaper called it Bread and Salt ceremony.

The hostess of the house Miss Ruzena Mrstikova welcomed him and his wife and presented Madame Benes with a bouquet.

Among the guests were the British council chairman and Regional Officer, the Countess of Elgin, Rector of Edin- burgh University, Director of the National Galleries of Scotland and many more.

At the opening president Beneš said:

“We shall have in Scotland a notable centre in which will be concentrated all Scottish-Czechoslovak activities aim- ing at understanding and association.”

He welcomed the project which would greatly contribute towards the further strengthening of Scottish-Czechoslo- vak relations.”

He spoke of important contacts between our countries from the Middle Ages to the beginning of modern age. He was glad that the house was in Edinburgh, famous for science, literature, art and great schools. He thanked the British Council which had done so much in the sphere of inter-Allied activities. He mentioned that Scotland reminded the soldiers the beauties of their own home country. They would find in the building a pleasant refuge where they would be able to rest and enjoy a friendly atmosphere which they would appreciate all the more as the news reaching them from home, the savagery of Heydrich and the horrors of Nazi violence. The House would also serve as a Slavonic society, a Student Union, centre for Scottish-Czechoslovak Christian fellowship and also Scottish Committee for the welfare of the Czechoslovak troops.

He wished all success to the House.

Dr Soukup said: “I hope that Scottish and Czechoslovak people would find a real home in the house. Its main pur- pose was to deepen the spiritual ties. The house in their hearts was a small territory of Czechoslovakia in Scotland.” He proposed a toast to the City of Edinburgh or as he corrected himself to Auld Reekie.


After opening there was a private luncheon and later President Benes gave an address on ‘For what are we fighting?’ in Pollock Memorial Hall in Edin- burgh. (Owner Sir Donald Pollock was also present at the opening).

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Photo of the article about the opening in Scotsman newspaper.

Even though the list of events shows the great success of the house in years 1940 to 1945, the minister Masaryk told Lumír in his London flat, that soon will come the time for liquidation of the house and Information centre and in 1945 he closed the door for last time.

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Some events that were happening in the house / info from Scotsman newspaper

15. 2. 1942

Lecture: “Scottish borderland”

13. 4. 1942 – visit of General Rudolf Viest, Minister of State for National defence of Czechoslovakia. He was welcomed by Lumir Soukup. General expressed his hopes for the house to stay open even after the war that he hope to invite many of our Scottish friends to visit the country for the liberation of which we are today fighting for.

22. 4. 1942

Lecture: “The Czechoslovak Airforce”
Lt.-Col. Kalla
Air and Millitary Attache, Czechoslovak Force

6. 7. 1942

Lecture on Master Jan Hus
Rev. Prof. J. H. S. Burleigh M. A., B. D., B. Lit., D. D.


8. 10. 1942

A pianoforte recital by Margaret Maddison


29. 10. 1942

A song and violin recital
By Mrs Riedova and Mrs Lounova


12. 11. 1942

A lecture by Jaroslav Císař – Professor of the Czechoslovak Research Institute in London
On the spirit of modern Czechoslovak literature


8. 7. 1943

Anniversary address by Professor J. L. Hromadka, PhD. on Jan Hus


6. 1. 1944

Lecture on Present conditions in Czechoslovakia by Gustav Travny


15. 1. 1944

Lecture by Prof. Otakar Odlozilik, Ph. D., D. Litt. Czechoslovak scheme of world organisation


16. 2. 1944

Cello and Piano recital
Miss Peggie Sampson - cello Me J. Wight Henderson - piano


12. 4. 1944

A dramatic presentation “The defence of London” By H. Harry Wood and Edwin Muir
Readers: Ian Stewart, Peter MacDonell,
A. C. Macgougal, Miss Lennox Milne


19. 4. 1944

Lecture: Modern Czech Poetry Lumir Soukup


14. 7. 1944

Board of enquiry on poetry Czechoslovakia: Lt Ivan Jelinek Poland: Mr Marlan Hemar Scotland: Mr Edwin Muir Compare: Mr John Purres


22. 7. 1944

Piano recital
Dr Mary Grierson


16. 8. 1944

Pianoforte recital Grace Johnston


12. 10. 1944

A Lecture by Dr. Jan Loewenbach “Czechoslovak music”
With gramophone records


17. 1. 1945

Lecture: The future of the drama Mr J. F. Arnott


31. 1. 1945

Lecture: The future of the pure science Professor R. Furth


14. 2. 1945

Lecture: The future of the Press J. Wilfrid Taylor


7. 3. 1945

Commemoration of the ninety-fifth anniversary of the birth of Thomas G. Masaryk
Poems by the late Herbert Revilliod,
his grandson to be read


28. 3. 1945

Lecture: The future of international law
Professor Arthur L. Goodhart, University College, Oxford


20. 4. 1945

Lecture: The Czechoslovak Army on the western front
Dr V. Rospislav (Editor “Nase Noviny”, soldier’s newspaper)


25. 4. 1945

Board of Enquiry on small nations Norway: Mrs W. Mactaggart Denmark: Mr E. Schacke Holland: Mr L. E. Nobel Czechoslovakia: Prof. R. Furth Compare: Dr Lumir Soukup


16. 5. 1945

Recital of Czechoslovak and English songs M. Campbell, George Short at the piano


25. 5. 1945

Lecture: Russian democracy Prof. John MacMurray


6. 6. 1945

Talk: Impressions of Czechoslovakia Principal D. S. Cairns and Mr Edwin Muir


20. 6. 1945

Lecture-recital: Modern English music
With gramophone recordings, Margaret Portch (It was the last one supported by British Council)


21. 6. 1945

A lecture by Dr. Osiakovski to commemorate The entry of The USSR into the War Organised by Czechoslovak information centre

I searched all information from talks with Catriona Soukup, Alenka Soukup, online archives – especially Scots- man newspaper, book Chvíle s Janem Masarykem by Lumír Soukup, book The War of 1939 by Věra Olivová and letters at University of Edinburgh Library.

Veronika Macleod

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