pdfVolume 7 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Between “Here” and “Over There”: Short-term and Circular Mobility from the Czech Lands to Latin America (1880s–1930s)*

Markéta Křížová
Center for Ibero-American Studies, Charles University, Prague
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The present text deals with the phenomenon of short-term mobility from the Czech Lands to Latin America from the end of the nineteenth century to the 1930s on the basis of sources such as memoirs, letters, and official reports, oral histories, and family histories. An examination of patterns in short-term labor mobility can offer interesting insights into the mechanisms of communication in the broader Atlantic region in the period in question and also further an understanding of cultural and economic interchange and the perceptions by the migrants themselves of their place in the world, their “home,” and their identities. By transmitting skills, experiences, and cultural knowledge, they assisted in the creation of “transnationalism from below” on both sides of the ocean.

Keywords: short-term mobility, labor mobility, Czech Lands, America, Argentina, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, transnationalism from below


In 1937, Matěj Poláček, a carpenter from southern Moravia, disembarked in the port of Buenos Aires. This fact in itself would be of little interest. In the previous half century, hundreds of thousands of Central Europeans, men and women, had made the same trip. However, Poláček walked down from the deck of Cap Arcona, a luxury transoceanic ship, after having spent several weeks vacationing in his native village. The company for which he was working, the German corporation Grün & Bilfinger, had given him compensation for the work he had performed in the form of tickets for the vessel which had brought him from Hamburg to Buenos Aires in less than two weeks.1 This seems to be at odds with the standard image of Central European migrant worker, but numerous historical sources prove that since the end of the nineteenth century, thousands of migrants had been crossing the Atlantic back and forth, maybe not in such a high-class fashion as Poláček, but playing their part in a complicated web of economic and social relations which transcended the borders of nation states and continents. They were not opting for permanent resettlement, but worked overseas for some time to acquire capital to use in their home countries or to supplement the family income.

The interest of scholars in the great transatlantic migration of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries has resulted in a fair amount of monographs and shorter studies. There are many “bilateral histories of migration,” in the words of Tara Zahra, for instance histories of Poles in Chicago or Czechs in Argentina.2 Historians have paid attention in particular to the reasons for which migrants chose to leave their homelands, the mechanisms of integration into receiving societies, and/or the maintenance of earlier loyalties. Only recently has an interest emerged among scholars in the persisting strong and multilayered ties between the countries of origin and those of destination.3 There were in fact rather high rates of return. About 30 percent of the Europeans who entered through the North American ports between 1815 and 1914 returned to Europe, and the proportion was even higher for Latin America during this period, so the phenomenon of return and circular mobility is indeed worth consideration.4 The movement across the Atlantic certainly left profound marks on the intellectual and material culture of the countries from which the migrants set sail and the societies where they settled, whether permanently or temporarily.

In the discourse of the times and to a great extent also in the historiography, return migration was and is often equated with failure. Certainly, there were those who returned because they were unable to fulfill their visions. Still, the glum picture given by Charles Dickens in his American Notes of those “coming back, even poorer than they went” hardly captures the complexity of the phenomenon of overseas mobility.5 In fact, the preponderant majority of those who headed for America planned to return. In 1900, the Portuguese consul in Buenos Aires wrote, with respect to his fellow countrymen coming to Argentina: “The main aspiration of this people is to save some money to buy small plots of land in their homeland.”6 Furthermore, at the time, thanks to the improvements in maritime and overland travel, workers were able to cross the Atlantic repeatedly. Alongside the colonies of fellow countrymen who were trying to establish themselves in the New World arose communities of those “with their feet in both societies,”7 able to maintain (at least partially) their status in their home society, including kinship ties and political loyalties. After returning, by bringing information and money to their native communities and putting into practice knowledge gained abroad, they drew relations, friends, and countrymen who had remained at home into the Atlantic system of economic and cultural interchange. Thus, they contributed to the creation on both sides of the ocean of what Ewa Morawska has called “transnationalism from below,” in which everyday people participated as the principal agents within the borders of the choices allowed to them by the concrete socio-political circumstances.8 On the other hand, while becoming “transnational,” these men and women were able to define who they were and where they belonged, in spite of competing allegiances for different “homes.”9

The realization that the transatlantic migration of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, in fact, all migration has almost never been unidirectional has prompted many historians to use the term “mobility” instead of the concepts of “outmigration” and “immigration, ” which were originally coined to meet the administrative needs of nation states in the nineteenth century.10 I prefer it in this article, as it better captures the multidirectional and interwoven patterns of migration activities, with emphasis on the short term and the repeated and circular moves over the ocean and back. My goal is to demonstrate, via a very limited case study focused on the Czech Lands/Czechoslovakia,11 how this type of study can help us move beyond a narrowly nationalistic approach to the study of history. Also, as historians have shown a considerably stronger interest in migration to the United States than in migration to the southern parts of the American continents, I have focused on mobility to and from Latin America as the principal starting point of my analysis.

While there has been a steady influx of individuals and smaller groups from Central Europe to the southern parts of the American continent since the colonial period which grew stronger throughout the nineteenth century, the main impetus for increased interest in settling in Latin America was the Immigration Act of 1924, which limited opportunities for Czechs, together with other Central and Eastern Europeans, to enter the USA. Also, the adverse consequences of the global economic crisis in the 1930s in Central Europe and the local booms in various parts of Latin America sparked further interest in Latin America (even though, as I will explain, the global crisis caused drops in available workplaces in Latin American countries as well).12 While the permanent migration from the Czech Lands to Latin America has been studied intensively by Czechoslovak/Czech historians since the 1960s,13 the phenomenon of short-term, circular, and return mobility has not yet received similar attention.


There certainly is an explanation for the relative lack of interest among historians in short-term mobility, namely, the scarcity of sources. In a sense, these migrants fall into a “blind spot” in the archival documentation, as the official statistics usually only include people who sought the approval of the authorities to leave the country permanently. It is not possible to determine the volume of the back and forth movement between America and Europe with any precision. Short-term laborers often relied on the help of family members or friends, especially at the beginning of their ventures, but they were relatively mobile and they remained largely outside the more compact expatriate communities in America, mixing instead with other salaried laborers, either locals or immigrants from other countries. Thus, their names do not appear frequently in the source materials concerning national clubs and associations in the host societies.14 There is, furthermore, a general problem with statistics dealing with migrants from Austro-Hungary. Czechs were often automatically considered either “Austrians” or “Germans,” or they were mixed with other Slavs, like Poles; they sometimes even presented themselves as such when looking for work.15

There are scattered mentions of companies sending their employees overseas in the published and manuscript autobiographies of migrants, the documentation from official visits by Czech and Austro-Hungarian and later Czechoslovak officials touring Latin America for various purposes, and travelogues or newspaper articles, and in the archival fonds. Interviews were done with Czech settlers repatriated from Latin America after 1918, as well as (by mail) with their fellow countrymen who opted to stay abroad, by the employees of Československý ústav zahraniční [Czechoslovak Foreign Institute].16 Finally, there are the family histories, transmitted orally, together with postcards, photographs, and other memorabilia. Several decades ago, Julianna Puskás eloquently demonstrated the value of these types of documents for the study of (not only) Hungarian migrations.17 Many of the testimonies—some of them so far unknown to or little exploited by historians—are only indirect; often there are just scraps and pieces from peoples’ life histories.

Given the nature of these sources, one is compelled to adopt a qualitative rather than a quantitative approach. My interest lies primarily in the agency of migrants themselves, as individuals and members of family units and local communities, who were acting within concrete social, geographical, and temporal spaces. Overseas migration always involved individual decision making, and if we seek to arrive at a nuanced understanding of these historical processes, we must consider individual stories as well as the broader collective phenomena. Still, my ambition has been to arrive, on the basis of these individual stories, at some general conclusions with respect to the transatlantic entanglements, which constituted one of the crucial historical factors in the making of present-day Central Europe.18

The chronological delineation of this study connects two very distinctive political regimes, beginning with the period when the Czech Lands still constituted part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and ending two decades after they had been made part of the new, postwar state of Czechoslovakia. While major political events often make suitable milestones for historical study (and in certain respects the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918 constituted a turning point in the history of migrations, since tens of thousands of Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks returned from over the world to the lands of their birth),19 I still opt for structural approach. Therefore, I examine short-term and circular mobility from its commencement at the very end of the nineteenth century (due to the considerable reduction in the cost of transatlantic passage) up to the beginning of the World War II, when overseas transit in general was brought to an abrupt end.

Back and Forth

The concept of “short-term mobility” escapes precise definition.20 People had a wide array of reasons for leaving for the New World, and a similarly diverse array of experiences once they arrived. For the present analysis, and aware of the insufficiencies of my approach, I take as central the initial aim of returning instead of remaining and becoming permanent residents and, at times, a pattern of repeated visits. The social composition of the group under consideration is also important. I do not take into account the members of the managerial staff of the Austrian/Czech/Czechoslovak companies in the Latin American branches (i.e. what is referred to as “career migration”21), nor do I consider the journalists and travelers who earned their living along the way. Rather, I focus on individuals who came from the same social strata as the long-term and permanent migrants, specifically the lower and middle classes, urban and rural, and in the majority of cases people who did manual labor. For them, living overseas was a means to an end, a labor strategy,22 not the final objective of their endeavors. The intention of returning rules out the poorest, who often had to sell everything they possessed, arriving in the New World “with just the shirt they had on, without a penny in their pocket,” as stated one of the texts from the beginning of the twentieth century the author of which warned Czechs against emigration.23 Surely also those who planned to return sometimes had difficulties raising the necessary cash and were compelled to take out mortgages or ask for loans from their relatives, but were not forced to sell everything (and clearly, the mere act of taking out a mortgage or asking for a loan meant that the person intended to return).24 Also, the poorest migrants usually lacked the necessary qualifications that would enable them to find better-paid jobs and save money for a return ticket.

Of course, sometimes the decision to stay or return was not made by the migrants themselves, but rather was dictated by outside forces. Many of those who originally planned to stay permanently returned within a few years, because the promises made by the agents and the authorities of the host country had given them misleading impressions of the realities of everyday life in the New World. Sometimes people who wished to return were forced to stay when they realized that their savings would barely suffice to buy a return ticket. Judging from the memoirs and interviews, there were many such cases. “I came to Argentina, as many of us did, thinking that I will get rich quickly and easily and I will earn a lot of money and then immediately I will return home. This was my firm conviction when I left home,” stated František Lukešík, who came to Argentina around 1910. As he could not find salaried work, he ended up in the agricultural colony Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, founded in 1913 by several Czech families.25

There was never significant seasonal transatlantic mobility from the Czech Lands, i.e. nothing equivalent to the Spanish and Italian golondrinas (swallows), farmhands who took advantage of the alternating agricultural cycles between the hemispheres and spent the European winter harvesting fruit and wheat in Argentina and then returned to Europe in May.26 Even with the improved system of railroad traffic, the Czech Lands remained too distant from the Mediterranean and Atlantic ports to make such movements worthwhile. Most of the Czechs and Moravians who went to America for shorter stays were industrial rather than agricultural workers, and they came for periods of years instead of several months. Still, there was a correlation between overseas mobility and the existing patterns of seasonal work.

This, in fact, is true for the whole of Europe. While traditionally the various types of migration—transatlantic, continental, or regional—have been studied in virtual isolation, in recent decades various historians have proven their mutual interdependence, and the “push” and “pull” models have given way to more complex explanations.27 As for the Czech Lands, in some parts, such as southwestern Bohemia and southern Moravia, mostly poorer agricultural regions with high number of landless or petty farmers who could not support their families by working the land alone, there existed a long tradition of seasonal and short-term labor mobility within and outside the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Germany, Serbia, and Italy. Not just young and single, but also married men would spend up to eight months a year seeking skilled or semi-skilled employment as farmhands, bricklayers, brickmakers etc. Women worked as maids in Vienna, but also as construction assistants all over Germany and Austria.28 A special survey of seasonal labor mobility ordered by the Austrian government in 1913 as a supplement to the regular censuses shows clearly the extent of the short-time absences. At the local level, there were places where seasonal workers made up 20 percent or more of the total population, a figure comparable to the percentages in the best-known regions of seasonal out-migration in Europe, like the Italian Friuli.29 Of course, there were also regular or occasional movements from other regions—for example, miners from northern Bohemia drifted to the Ruhr area in times of labor shortage.30

Given the intensity of this mobility, overseas transfer does not appear as exceptional as traditional historical studies have tended to suggest. Rather, it seems to have been one of the alternatives workers could pursue. The fact that communities with existing traditions of seasonal and short-term mobility had already established social mechanisms for accommodating absences and returns is important. There existed what could be termed a “culture of mobility,” i.e. a collective strategy for coping with and taking advantage of the willingness of some of their members to travel by adjusting existing norms, values, and ideologies to their absences.31 Females took male occupations on the farms or hired day laborers to do them; families and the community at large were willing to accept some of the novelties brought about by the return of laborers. The laborers themselves were already used to making accommodations in the new environments in which they had lived, and, last but not least, while working in various European countries, they had opportunities to learn about the possibilities of transoceanic migration.32

It is possible that some of the seasonal workers originally did not plan to go to America, but decided to cross the Atlantic only after coming to the Italian port, for example, and encountering agents of shipping companies.33 Similarly, it is possible that they were approached with offers of work or attracted by rumors while working in Germany, as was the case of Poláček. Up to World War I, in particular Brazil and later Chile actively spread immigration propaganda in Germany, so the Czech seasonal workers who were coming to Germany also became the targets of agents. And even when they did not opt to move overseas themselves, these seasonal workers brought home information about such opportunities from Germany or Italy.34 America certainly was not an unreachable, strange world for Central European farmhands and workers. Of course, mobility, whether short-term or permanent, also depended on concrete economic conditions in a given region. And it should be noted that for the period under consideration overseas short-term mobility remained of secondary importance in comparison with the continuing seasonal labor movements within the Czech Lands or to neighboring countries. The possible paths for improving one’s economic and social status for the inhabitants of the Czech Lands at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries included a number of choices.

A Typology of Short-term Migrants

The countries of destination in Latin America for the short-term migrants were mostly the same as for the long-term and permanent migrants: first and foremost Argentina and Brazil, then to a lesser degree Chile (mostly due to its geographical position, which made short-term stays more difficult) and Mexico, and only exceptionally Central America or other Latin American countries. Argentina and Brazil in particular offered an acceptable climate and a relatively large array of work opportunities due to rapid modernization and urbanization, which had been underway since the second half of the nineteenth century, a factor even more important for short-term migrants than for those who mostly opted for privately owned land and an independent existence.

Regarding the typology of short-term mobility from the Czech Lands, there are two clearly distinguishable groups. The first of these consisted of unskilled or semi-skilled workers motivated by the vague notion of the “American dream,” as it was spread by the agents of the transportation companies and the colonizing societies or by the successes of their predecessors. In their effort to earn money quickly, they were willing to take any work, but they usually proved ill-prepared for the realities of life in the New World.35 From the point of view of cultural exchange, they did not have much to share with the host societies, and though their work as farm hands or factory workers provided them with new experiences, these insights were not of much use in their native communities. Many of such would-be short-term migrants were in the end forced to remain for a longer period of time than they had initially planned or even permanently, since it proved almost impossible to save money for the return journey. Sometimes, they were repatriated at the expense of the Austro-Hungarian or Czechoslovak embassies.36 Repeated warnings from the authorities and already established fellow-countrymen offer clear evidence of their considerable vulnerability to economic oscillations and social pressures; however, their numbers increased nonetheless, especially during the economic crisis of the 1930s, even though labor opportunities in Latin America decreased sharply precisely at that time.37

The second group consisted of skilled workers. Some of them came to America to find employment in their respective fields, either at random or drawing on the previous experiences of relatives or friends. Others were sent by the companies for which they were working in Europe. For both groups, Latin America offered better opportunities than the United States, where the labor marked had been saturated by immigrant and domestic specialists since the second half of the nineteenth century. Sometimes, factories in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile themselves sent agents to Europe to seek specialists in professions in which there was a high demand for the comparatively few skilled laborers;38 furthermore, these countries actively encouraged the establishment of foreign companies. As the Czech Lands had historically produced some specialized jobs, these workers adapted with relative ease not only to their new lives in various European countries, where their expertise was in demand, but also to conditions on the other side of the ocean. There was also the aforementioned traditional seasonal mobility of construction workers from southern Bohemia and southern Moravia. Matěj Poláček, to whose third arrival in Argentina in the span of ten years I alluded in the opening lines of this article, had been working as a migrant laborer since the 1890s, first in Hungary, then in various German cities, and then in the New World. There, he took part in such projects as the construction of the huge Cruz del Eje dam, the railroad bridge at San Lorenzo, and the “Tiro Federal,” that is, shooting grounds for the federal army in the Argentinian capital.39

There were Czech railroad builders, construction workers, and factory workers all over Argentina, as the precipitous expansion of railroads created a need for people with experience in these professions. For example, workers from the Czech factory in Kopřivnice, a famous producer of railroad carriages, were invited to the state-owned factory in Tafi Viejo in 1910. Because there was a scarcity of work in Kopřivnice at the time, the factory management supported their temporary absence and even organized Spanish courses for them. Of about forty workers, some stayed in Argentina, while others returned home before the war.40 For the dangerous work at the oil fields in southern Argentina, experienced miners were recruited by German agents in the Czech mining regions Ostrava/Ostrau and Kladno.41 At the beginning of the 1930s, the Škoda company of Plzeň delivered facilities for the newly built beet sugar refinery plants in the Argentine provinces of Mendoza and San Juan. Since the nineteenth century, the Bohemian Lands had been at the foreground of sugar production in Europe. After a very unsuccessful first season in the Argentinian enterprise, Škoda arranged to send over technicians and “boilers,” along with the machinery.42

The Bohemian Lands were also famous for beer production. Not only were Czech beer, malt, and hop important export articles, but since the end of the nineteenth century brewing machinery had been exported to furnish breweries all over Latin America. Again, specialized workers were sent to start production, some of them repeatedly when new branches of breweries were established or production was expanded. Vojtěch Vaníček, representative of the Economic Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, traveled in South America together with the aforementioned Zdeněk Fafl in 1910 on behalf of the Trade and Commercial Chamber. He found Czech specialists “in almost every brewery we passed through.”43 Similarly, after visiting Argentina and Brazil in 1910 and finding many Czechs in local breweries, Czech economist Leopold Perutz recommended that “our vocational and trade schools teach Spanish and Portuguese.”44 At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jan Mikš first passed through various European breweries, concluding with Zagreb in 1910. He then moved to to South America; there was comparatively intense mobility, both permanent and short term, between Croatia and Latin America, especially Chile.45 For two years, Mikš worked in breweries in Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and other cities. In Santiago, he made the acquaintance of Count Kolowrat-Liechtenstein, the Austrian envoy to Chile, who later employed him as a tenant of his own brewery in the town of Rychnov in eastern Bohemia.46 And, finally, there were representatives of specific professions such as musicians who at the time were in great demand in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, where they provided not only the dance music and entertainment in restaurants, but also live accompaniment for silent films.47

The preponderant majority of the short-term migrants were male, in contrast to the more balanced mix in the case of long-term migrants. Still, there were also female specialists. Uruguayan and Argentinian upper-class families preferred maids and cooks from Europe over local labor as a sign of high social standing;48 and there has been a tradition of Czech and Moravian maids going to Vienna, so again the move overseas was more of a prolongation of existing mobility patterns than the establishment of entirely new ones. Also, the Argentinian elites employed governesses from Central Europe who were able to speak French for lower wages than “genuine” French gouvernantes.49 There were certain risks, as the mediating agencies sometimes delivered the young women to brothels.50 In response to numerous reports and complaints, as of 1930, women from Czechoslovakia under the age of twenty-five could only travel to Argentina or Brazil if they could presents an affidavit from a family member or employer who pledged to provide “financial support and moral supervision.”51

Experiences Overseas

Specialized workers often came to South America with a contract already in hand. They were thus spared the humiliating stay in the “Immigrants’ hotels” in Buenos Aires or São Paulo, where they could stay for free, but where conditions were crowded and discouraging,52 and the equally discouraging clamor for work, any work at all. Because they possessed skills that were rare in Latin America, they were able to negotiate their pay and sometimes even the luxury of an occasional trip home. They often felt superior and sometimes voiced a sense of superiority over local laborers, and sometimes even seem to have had a notion of themselves as representatives of a “civilizing mission” who were spreading European/Czech skills in undeveloped regions. The authorities in the home country were actually aware of this and commented on it negatively. While the Habsburg state did not intervene actively in the “export” of skilled workers, the Czechoslovak Ministry of Trade and Industry made efforts (although mostly in vain) to keep specialists in prominent export industries (such as beer-making, sugar-making, glass-making, the textile industry, etc.) within the state borders even in times of rising unemployment during the great crisis of the 1930s precisely because they feared that the transfer of technological knowledge abroad would create competition for domestic production.53

Still, even the position of a highly qualified worker was not at all secure, and America was far from a “new home.” Often, salaries were lower than had been promised.54 Many of the workplaces were far from inviting. For example, in the oil fields in southern Argentina, the workforce consisted mostly of foreigners, the atmosphere was highly cosmopolitan,55 and earnings were relatively high. But, according to the memoirs of some of the Czech workers, the housing conditions were dismal, consisting mostly of crude shacks made of boards and corrugated sheets; there was acute lack of drinking water, which was sold at high prices. Medical facilities were inadequate and there was no compensation for work-related accidents. As the region was isolated, the workers lacked protection and could hardly flee.56

The situation on railroads was similar. When in 1929 the Argentinian government started the construction of the railroad from Salta to Formosa, it negotiated the involvement of a Hungarian company which recruited skilled workers in various places, including the Czech Lands. But as soon became evident, high earnings notwithstanding, the working conditions were hard. Because of the lack of proper machinery, the laborers had to do backbreaking manual work, drinking water was scarce and housing inadequate. In response to reports on these conditions, the Hungarian government forbade further recruitment of workers for Argentina, but the Czechoslovak authorities only issued warnings through the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute.57 Of course, these experiences, if narrated back home, might have had discouraging effects. The dominant image of Latin America as a region in which work was reduced to manual labor is interesting. “In Argentina, intelligence will not find work, as there are enough educated people. Argentina needs only laborers in agriculture and in trade.”58

Those who had worked first in Western Europe, had been members of labor unions and had taken advantage of (or taken part in ensuring) social securities and labor legislature resented the lack of protections for workers in Latin America. The situation was particularly bad in Brazil. “There are no legal protections for workers. The laborers are blatantly oppressed. […] Every factory has its own warehouse with food for workers. Often the laborer does not get any money at all. If he needs medicine or other necessities, he must buy at a high price from the warehouse of the factory and sell at a loss for cash.”59 Of course, this was even more stressful for short-term migrants, who had hoped to accumulate meaningful savings as quickly as possible. For some of the migrants, the stay overseas seems to have been crucial as an experience which increased their awareness of social issues.60 Last but not least, migrants had to face anti-immigrant sentiments, which with the passage of time became more intense in many Latin American countries.

Migrants who aspired to remain in their new homes for longer period of time or even permanently mostly tried to settle down as quickly as possible on purchased or rented estates. The relative availability of land in Latin America at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when it was becoming scarce in the USA, was one of the major attractions for Czechs (who, unlike other migrants from eastern and southern Europe, generally aspired to settle in the countryside instead of looking for work in urban areas). The temporary migrants, in contrast, often moved around, either because they were sent to new locations by the companies for which they were working or because, in their search for work, they had gotten to know various parts of the country and fellow workers of various nationalities. As they opted for a short, profitable stay in America, with as few expenses as possible, and as they often worked in multilingual and multinational environments, many of them considered it impractical to devote time and money to activities like learning Spanish or Portuguese, especially when they were working for French or German companies.

The dominance of German companies in Argentine industry eased the process of adaptation for Czechs and Moravians, most of whom had at least a superficial knowledge of German. When Karel Urban, one of the would-be sojourners who decided to stay in America, responded to the questionnaire of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, he commented: “I only remembered several words in Portuguese, but that bit of my German helped me everywhere.”61 The language barrier was another factor which prevented the short-term migrants from constructing the notion of a home (albeit temporary) in America. Of course, without the knowledge of the local language, they were also more vulnerable to being cheated by employers or members of the local population.

The American Trunk

While it was demonstrated above that intercontinental mobility in many respects was followed by long-established models of labor sojourns, this did not just mean a widening of the radius of travel for work. Stays overseas had some important repercussions for the migrants themselves, their families, and the local communities. Of utmost importance were the remittances that flowed into the villages and suburbs in the Czech Lands. The fact that “temporary immigrant comes to earn money and then leaves with wages, [which] is important for doing the work, but is not something [the host country] needs for its development” was noted by the contemporary Czech commentators62 and officials in Latin America. Many of the contemporary commentators noted the substantial difference in wages between Argentina, for example, and Europe, not forgetting, however, immediately to note also the high living costs, especially the prices of basic foodstuffs.63 As remittances came mostly through the mail or by personal delivery, it is difficult even to estimate the total sums involved. But they probably meant a boost to local economies through the purchase of land plots and houses64 and also due to the fact that the prolonged absences of numerous males made it necessary to employ hired hands.

The notion of “American wealth” even entered local folklore. One Moravian offered the following characterization of the advantages of migrant labor in the New World for people in the Old: “Good for women in the old country, who have their husbands in America. They work, they send money home.”65 And they also sent exotic goods. Poláček once dispatched a chest of oranges from Argentina shortly before Easter, and his daughters gave them away instead of painted eggs, which is the local custom on Easter Monday.66 This story could be seen merely as a curiosity, but it illustrates the fact that such gifts sent or brought home reinforced the exotic image of the New World in Central Europe and could be also regarded as a symbol of the progressive interlinking of local and regional economies to the transatlantic system.

The returning migrants also brought back information about the world on the far side of the ocean. In his monograph, Mark Wyman uses of the metaphor of the “America trunk” as an apt symbol for both emigration and remigration, of coming to America and returning to the homeland, of conserving the memories of the mother country and bringing home new wares, goods and ideas.67 Certainly, the letters from relatives and friends living in America represented an important source of information for their home communities and, later, for historians.68 But first-hand experiences transmitted by word-of-mouth, together with the presents and memorabilia taken out of the trunk, probably had an even stronger impact, though not one that would leave much trace in historical records. But perhaps these presents and memorabilia influenced the contents of the “American trunk” packed by the next generation of migrants. The seasoned “Mexican” or “American” in fancy clothes, able to deal with any situation and endeavoring to climb the social ladder, even entered the local folklore, including songs, jokes, and fairytales, as well as the popular literature all over the Czech Lands.69

In his memoirs, František Vyšata, a traveler and ardent proponent of the Czech national spirit among migrants, lamented that “the preparation of our fellow countrymen for such a vital step as leaving of motherland was minimal or nonexistent.” Migrants simply bought their tickets from “eloquent agents” and then “off they went to try their luck.”70 But, as was already noted, this was in fact not true. More often than not, prospective migrants had abundant and surprisingly precise information which helped them make carefully considered decisions when contemplating travel overseas. It certainly was not a coincidence that the Czech and Moravian regions in which we find highest number of seasonal migrants to European countries and, later, to America—southwestern Bohemia, southern Moravia—were also regions from which numerous individuals and families decided to move overseas permanently. In a study of contemporary transmigrants, Peggy Lewitt refers to this flow of information as “social remittances” in an effort to accentuate its importance for the increase in the material wellbeing of the home communities because it stimulated other forms of mobility.71 The two types of mobility certainly reinforced each other, as the return migrants spread knowledge, direct or indirect, of the opportunities overseas, while the permanent settlements of fellow countrymen made the shorter stays of those who did not want to remain for good easier. Also, within the framework of short-term mobility, the chain pattern acquired great importance. Memoirs and correspondence confirm that on returning for another stay in America, workers often took with them relatives—brothers, bothers-in-law, nephews etc. —to follow them to the Americas.72

Alongside the economic implications, there were important social and cultural consequences for community cohesion and the lives of the members of communities from which migrants departed for the New World. The overseas sojourns differed from previous patterns of seasonal mobility, if only due to the longer duration of labor stays. Short-term migrants did not dispose of their properties, and for the most part, if married, left their wives behind, thus maintaining also their social position in the community and preventing themselves from establishing closer social ties in the host societies. Though the wives took over the everyday tasks, their husbands managed their affairs from long-distance through correspondence and messages sent back and forth with traveling friends and relatives. Still, the outcomes of their prolonged absences could be damaging. Both contemporary commentators and recent studies have spoken of the “feminization” of society, as wives and other family members were forced to take over some of the work and, perhaps more importantly, the social responsibilities (and thus to some extent the social influence) of the departed men.73 Folklore captured the feelings of uneasiness and a sense of fragmentation, tension, and inconsolable emptiness: “Children are crying aloud when they bid farewell to their father over the wide sea.”74 The documentation of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute covers many cases of fathers gone overseas and mothers who died or were seriously ill, leaving the care of the offspring to relatives or the state.75 Therefore, since the 1930s, anyone applying for a passport and leaving minor children behind had to demonstrate that he or she had provided for their support.76


The impact of returnees on their home surroundings depended, of course, on many factors, including the length of their stay in the Americas and the extent and type of contacts they had had with American society. However, some general trends emerge. In her comments on the impacts of the return of migrant workers from the United States on the Hungarian countryside, Puskás notes the crucial impact of experiences with the democratic establishment, political freedoms, which made it more difficult for the returnees to tolerate the more restricted conditions in their home country.77 As the sources concerning Czech and Moravian migration to South America indicate, upon returning, the migrants lacked “freedom” in a different sense—lowered social restraints and pressures, less cramped living conditions, and a sense of greater responsibility for one’s own life.

One finds explicit allusions to the lack of “freedom” and the discomforts of living in densely populated areas in the correspondence of returned migrants sent via the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute and implicit references in the memoirs of Matěj Poláček. In this sense, the feeling of being at “home” unexpectedly shifted overseas, throwing into doubt the notions maintained during the sojourns in America. A letter sent in 1929 by the Moravian returnee to compatriots in Argentina documents not only the intense communication with people oversees, the interchange of letters, and the frequent visits of relatives, but also the fact that even returning home and buying land was not necessarily a definite step. “How was the harvest? I am homesick for America, I liked it there, except for the flies. […] Here we are among strange people. […] When we tire from working for others, we will sell [what we have] here again and go over to you. […] The country is nice here, fields all flat, but more work than with the cotton over there.”78 The anonymous author of the letter still drew a distinction between “here” and “over there,” but her loyalties were not at all clear-cut. Poláček bought a “ranch” in Argentina, while also investing in real estate in his native village, manifesting fervent affection for his homeland. That he was prevented in 1946 from embarking again for South America and was subsequently deprived of part of his properties as a consequence of the rise to power of the communist regime is a different story.79 What is important in this context is the evident multiplicity of “homes” Poláček (along with hundreds or thousands of other Czechs and Moravians) was able to come to regard as “his,” a sentiment he was at least partially able to transmit to his surroundings, drawing the peripheral regions of Central Europe into the transatlantic economic and cultural interchange.


Primary sources

National archive of the Czech Republic, fonds ČÚZ [Czeholslovak Foreign Institute], boxes 30, 33 and 39.


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1* This article was written as part of the the European Regional Development Fund Project “Creativity and Adaptability as Conditions of the Success of Europe in an Interrelated World” (No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000734) and Charles University PROGRES Q 09 program: History – The key to understanding the globalized world. The first version of the article was presented at the Fifth European Congress on World and Global History in Budapest (2017). I am thankful to the participants of the panel “Emigration from the Habsburg Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to America, 1848–1918,” as well as to the reviewers of the submitted manuscript, for their inspiring remarks.

In the 1970s, when he was nearing ninety, Poláček wrote down his life story, which was then preserved by his descendants. It was published with the title Za velkou louži: Vzpomínky moravského dělníka Matěje Poláčka na Afriku a Jižní Ameriku; translation into German currently underway.

2 Zahra, The Great Departure, 16.

3 Other texts which merit mention include, from the field of the study of migration to Latin America, Da Orden, Una familia y un océano; or the collective volume Sæther, Expectations Unfulfilled. Of course, there is also the important study by Mark Wyman, quoted in this text and dedicated to the phenomenon of return migration from the United States: Wyman, Round-Trip to America.

4 Julianna Puskás went so far as to state that “from the point of view of the emigrants’ original plans, it is not those who returned who needed to be explained, but rather those who settled permanently in America” (Puskás, “Hungarian Overseas Migration,” 227). Also Devoto, Historia de la inmigración, 73, stated that “European migration to the Americas constituted a circular process, not a linear one.” With respect to mobility between the Czech Lands to America, the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute in October 1930 reported that “yearly roughly same number of people return [from South America] as leaves for [South America]” (Documentation in the National Archive of the Czech Republic (hereafter quoted as NA), fonds ČÚZ, box 33.

5 On the relative lack of interest among historians and the lack of evidence (a consequence of the fact that the people who returned, in an effort to hide their “failure,” did not draw attention to their stays in or returns from America), see Moltmenn, “American-German Return Migration.” See also Dickens, American Notes, originally published in 1842, then in many reeditions.

6 Borges, Chains of Gold, 9. The case studies of Norwegians in the aforementioned volume Expectations Unfulfilled show similar patterns.

7 The phrase used by Chaney, “The World Economy,” 204, with reference to present-day transmigrants.

8 Morawska, “Disciplinary Agendas,” 611.

9 The phrase “multiplicity of homes” is used in the volume of Al-Ali and Koser, New Approaches to Migration?, dealing, however, with recent migrations.

10 Steidl et al., “Relations among Internal,” 63.

11 The Czech Lands or the Lands of the Bohemian Crown are the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, historically ruled by the kings of Bohemia and since 1526 incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1918, they became, together with Slovakia and Ruthenia, parts of the new Czechoslovak Republic. See Pánek, Tůma et al., A History of the Czech Lands. While the phrase “Czech Lands” was not used after 1918, I am sticking to this denomination, instead of “Czechoslovakia,” as the present article does not take into account migrants from Slovakia either before or after 1918. At the same time, I will refer in the article to “Czechs”, indicating their provenance from the Czech Lands, rather than “Czechs, Moravians and Silesians”, referring to the three separate regions of which the Czech Lands are composed.

12 On both of these consequences in local milieus, positive as well as negative, in the 1920s and 1930s there is ample documentation in NA, fonds ČÚZ, boxes 30, 33 and 39.

13 The interest among Czechoslovak historians in migration studies was provoked by the limitations on the use and study of archival sources abroad after 1948. The study of materials on European and world history in the national archives was a sort of alternative or solution to this limitation. (See Křížová, “Iberoamerikanische Studien”. On the history of outmigration from the Czech Lands to Latin America, see the volumes from a series of conferences organized by the Centre of Ibero-American Studies: Opatrný, Emigración centroeuropea a América Latina I–IV. There are other valuable collective volumes and monographs, such as Prutsch, Das Geschäft mit der Hoffnung.

14 This was not in any way exceptional. For instance, several studies included in the collective monograph concerning the Norwegian migrants to Latin America indicate patterns of social and economic behavior similar to those prevailing among the labor migrants from the Czech Lands in the same area: Saether, Expectations Unfulfilled.

15 Zdeněk Fafl, an employee of the Trade and Commercial Chamber in Prague who in 1910 took an inspection journey through Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile stated that “many Czechs in Brazil pass as Germans and many as Poles” (Perutka, “Jižní Amerika,” 1069).

16 The institute was established in 1928 as a state-supported but independent organization the aim of which was to maintain contacts with expatriate communities and individuals of Czechoslovak origin living abroad. The documentation, which often reaches back to the pre-1918 period, at present is held in the National Archive of the Czech Republic. See Brouček, Krajané a domov.

17 Puskás, “Hungarian Overseas Migration,” passim, and also Yans-McLaughlin, “Metaphors of Self in History.” The value of the family photographs as a source for the study of overseas mobility and the fabrication/maintenance of individual, family and group identities was discussed in an excellent article by Da Orden, “Fotografía e identidad familiar.”

18 I took inspiration from the highly regarded monograph by Fernando Devoto, who also sought to combine analytical and narrative, micro- and macrohistorical approaches (Devoto, Historia de la inmigración, 12).

19 Brouček and Grulich, Domácí postoje k zahraničním Čechům, 10.

20 The problematic distinction between permanent and temporary migrants was dealt with by Bovenkerk, The Sociology of Return Migration, 10–13. And, as shown by Fernando Devoto, even arriving at a simple definition of the “migrant” is problematic, much as it is problematic to distinguish this type of newcomer from “foreigners,” “travelers,” and “passengers” (Devoto, Historia de la inmigración, 20–42).

21 See the migration typology of Bade, Emigration in European History, x–xi.

22 Migration to America as “labor strategy” is analyzed by Borges, Chains of Gold.

23 Jetmar, “Hrst úvah o Argentině a české inmigraci,” 9–10.

24 On mortgages and loans, sometimes excessive and burdensome, taken out by those opting for sojourns in America see the report of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, October 1, 1930 (NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33).

25 Lukešík was later interviewed by mail by the members of the Czech Foreign Institute, (NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33. Lamentably, the documentation is neither properly catalogued nor paginated.) Josef Grygar, a miner from Ostrava, went to Argentina in 1906, apparently under the influence of Ferdinand Missler, the dominant agent for the traffic to Argentina from the Czech Lands. Later, he denounced Missler’s characterization of the opportunities that awaited him as deceptive propaganda. “Missler […] lures so many people to work, and there is no work for these thousands. And the ships are bringing more and more. […] Some people have been here for a long time and would like to go home to their families.” Grygar himself never saved enough to return home to his wife and son. (His letters were edited by his grandson: Grygar, “Osudy rozdělené oceánem,” 334. On Missler, see Opatrný, “Propaganda y contrapropaganda.”)

26 On these “birds of passage,” see Vázquez-Presedo, “The Role of Italian Migration.”

27 In his groundbreaking 1960 essay, Frank Thistlethweite argued for the interdependence of transatlantic and other migrational activities and the need to consider them as a complete whole (Thistlethweite, “Migration from Europe Overseas”). For later elaborations, see Steidl et al, European Mobility; for a complex depiction of migrations within Europe, see Moch, Moving Europeans.

28 Blau, Böhmerwälder Hausindustrie und Volkskunst, 193, mentions these “bricklayer-maids” (Maurermädchen). On Czechs in Vienna, see Steidl, Auf nach Wien! Similar patterns existed in other parts of Europe. See Borges, Chains of Gold and Holmes, Cultural Disenchantments.

29 The results of the survey were published in Mitteilungen des Statistischen Landesamtes. Hermann Zeitlhofer compared seasonal mobility from the Czech Lands and Friuli, “Zwei Zentren temporärer kontinentaler Arbeitsmigration;” on the whole phenomenon of seasonal migration from the Czech Lands see Zeitlhofer, “Bohemian Migrants.” The outpouring of inhabitants from these regions was noted by contemporaries: Korčák, Vylidňování jižních Čech.

30 Kořalka and Hoffmann, Tschechen im Rheinland und in Westfalen.

31 Again, I made use of a term used for the analyses of present-day migrations, in this case by Elrick, “The Influence of Migration,” 504–05.

32 The importance of the stage model of migration opening the way overseas is noted by Baines, “European Labor Markets,” 46–47.

33 One such case is mentioned by Dubovický, “Krajanská kolonie Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña,” 149.

34 Ibid., 142.

35 In the fonds of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute in the National Archives two notebooks are preserved with the title “Deník. Cesta do Jižní Ameriky, 1930” [Journey to South America, 1930]. Under the entry on March 18, 1930, the anonymous author resumed the interviews with fellow passengers. “Two Moravians. Both have families. Don’t plan to stay in Argentina, they want to earn money and return. One of them has built a house and another has bought one. So, they need money. How and where they don’t know and don’t care much. ‘We will see.’”

36 The bricklayer Vincenc Mlček offers the following recollection: “All of us wanted to earn some money to found a family and come back in two or three years. But the reality was different.” Mlček himself spent 25 years in Argentina, returning to the mother country only in 1946. His memoirs, written after his return to Czechoslovakia in 1945, were edited by his son: Mlček, Vzpomínky na Argentinu, 139.

37 For a detailed discussion of the problem of unqualified migrants, see Hyža, Zpráva o cestě do Jižní Ameriky, 1927, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box. 33, f. 48. Hyža was sent by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Social Welfare to gather information about the potentials of successful emigration and also to propagate Czechoslovak exports. In his report, he conveyed the warnings of fellow countrymen in Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil against coming as a dayworker given the “competition from Italians, Spaniards, and Southern Slavs.” He argued instead for the transfer of specialists in fields such as smiths, lathe operators, locksmiths, and foundrymen (f. 48), all professions in great demand in the rapidly expanding states of South America. A similar statement is found in Kresta, Stát São Paulo, 86. Again, the author names the sought-after professions: “locksmiths, electronic technicians, smiths, carpenters, bricklayers,” etc.

38 For example, Brazilian printers and newspaper publishers sought lithographers and were willing to pay for their transport, see the article “Čeští litografové v São Paulo,” 7.

39 Křížová, Za velkou louži, passim.

40 Hyža, Zpráva o cestě, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box. 33, f. 57.

41 Čech-Vyšata, Patnáct let v Jižní Americe, 56. There were oil fields in Austrian Galicia, where many of these miners got their first experiences in this industry (see Frank, Oil Empire). The standing of the Czech and Moravian laborers in the Argentinian oil fields was similar to that of the Norwegians described by Bjerg, “Male Narratives from the Margins of the Country”: fatigue, long working days, anxiety, frugality, social isolation, scarcity, and untidiness.

42 Letter of Václav Čermák, September 25, 1932, sent to the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, NA, fond ČÚZ, box 33.

43 Vaníček, Republiky řeky La Platy, 138. On the export of machinery for beer brewing from the Czech Lands see Novotný and Šouša, “La malta de Bohemia en América Latina.”

44 Perutz, “O hospodářském významu Argentiny,” 691.

45 On migration from Croatia to Chile, see de Kuzmicic, Inmigrantes croatas a través del siglo XX; Pajovic, “La emigración yugoslava a América Latina.”

46 The life story of Mikš has become part of local historical memory. See the interview with Mikš’s grandson Jan Mikš on the webpage of the brewery in Rychnov.

47 Information of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, May 1, 1930, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33.

48 However, in his report Hyža warned young women interested in such occupations that work conditions were burdensome, with no protections whatsoever against the caprices of employers and immediate dismissals from service and no form of social insurance. (Zpráva o cestě, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33; the same stated the information concerning the employment of Czechoslovak maids, sent by the ambassador in Buenos Aires to the Czechoslovak Foreign institute, August 28, 1937, NA, fond ČÚZ, box 33).

49 Memoirs of one of the governesses: Čvančarová, Na tvrdém úhoru. There were similar trends among other ethnic groups: see, for example, Frid de Silberstein, “Immigrants and Female Work in Argentina,” 195–217.

50 Kodýtková, 21 let v Argentině, 11. In 1887, the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of Exterior warned unaccompanied young women not to travel to South America ( Agstner, Von Kaisern, Konsuln und Kaufleuten, 112).

51 Report from the Czechoslovak Embassy in Buenos Aires to the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, March 10, 1930, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33; see also Vyhnanovský, Cestovní pasy a vystěhovalectví, 230.

52 According to Čech-Vyšata, who spent only one night in the “Hotel de Inmigrantes” in the port of Buenos Aires, the food was disgusting; also, about eighty men were lodged in one room, and “instead of sleeping, until the break of day we were busy hunting various kinds of vermin” (Čech-Vyšata, Patnáct let v Jižní Americe, vol. 1, 22).

53 Brouček and Grulich, Domácí postoje k zahraničním Čechům, 17.

54 Jetmar, “Hrst úvah,” 11.

55 Solberg, Oil and Nationalism in Argentina, 39, stated that of a total of 1,700 workers and supervisors in Comodoro Rivadavia in 1919, only 3 percent were Argentinian citizens; many of the foreigners did not speak Spanish. (There is a table stating the percentages of various nationalities; however, the Czechs disappear in the mass of “Austrians.”) On the general context, see Kaplan, “La primera fase de la política petrolera,” 775–810.

56 Bielik, “Zo života Slovákov a Čechov v Patagonii, ” 150.

57 Report by the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, November 1, 1929, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33.

58 Jetmar, “Hrst úvah,” 55. Three decades after Jetmar’s note, a report of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute of March 15, 1931 warned that “intellectuals have no prospects whatsoever in Argentina” (NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33).

59 Hamáček, “Brazílie,” 58. More than twenty years later, the report by Hyža mentioned the absence of any reciprocal treaty between Czechoslovakia and Argentina that would enable the paying out of insurance for a worker who was gravely injured at work to his relatives in Czechoslovakia (Zpráva o cestě, NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33, f. 123). The Czechoslovak Foreign Institute also warned repeatedly that “there is no organized social service in Brazil, nor are there labor unions which would strive for the improvement of workers’ organizations” (NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 35).

60 This was the case of Antonín Neugebauer, who left for Brazil in 1886 and then moved to Montevideo. Between 1887 and 1889, he lived and worked in Buenos Aires, where he helped organize the German-speaking workers with the intention of founding of one of the first laborers’ associations in the country, Vorwärts (Forward). He returned home in 1889. See Klíma, “Antonio Neugebauer.”

61 Urban to the Czehoslovak Foreign Institute, January 25, 1934, in NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33. A report of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute of May 1, 1930 noted that there is only a slight minority of Czechoslovak migrants to South America who have “at least some command of Spanish. Language skills are limited to German for Czechs and Hungarian for Slovaks” (NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33). In 1905, Jan Jetmar recommended to those traveling to Argentina to learn Spanish beforehand, but stated that it was possible to find one’s way around using German (Jetmar, “Hrst úvah,” 55).

62 Ibid., 14–15, commenting specifically on the case of Argentina.

63 Jan Jetmar, quoted above, at the beginning of the twentieth century stated on Argentina: “The wages are good, or measured against ours excellent, […] but it is necessary to consider also the increase in the price of all life necessities” (Ibid., 15).

64 Matěj Poláček bought a house for his daughter and partly financed the purchase of a house for his grandson, while rebuilding his own, “all by honest and dutiful work.” (The commentary on Poláček’s financial situation, written by his daughter at the end of his memoir after his death, was not included in the edition at the request of the family members. Thus it remains only in the manuscript version.) Also, the letters that were to be delivered via the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute to South America (and apparently never were, as the originals remained in the archive) include mentions of land purchases with the “American” money (NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33).

65 Smutná and Smutný, Keď som sa já z mojho kraja do Ameriky zberal, 15. This edition of approximately twenty folk songs from southern Moravia dealing specifically with short-term work mobility was edited recently, but composed mostly at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and collected around the 1950s by local amateur ethnographers who lamentably did not include much information concerning the sources of the published texts. Puskás noted in the case of Hungary that “there is hardly a story, hardly a local legend of America that’s does not make reference to the dollars sent home” (Puskás, “Hungarian Overseas Migration,” 396).

66 Author’s interview with descendants of Matěj Poláček, recorded on April 20, 2017.

67 Wyman, Round-Trip to America, 189.

68 A case study from Slovakia by Bielik, “Slovak Images of the New World,” proves the impact of letters from America on the expectations of prospective migrants. Analyses of correspondence have contributed in an important way to our understanding of motivations and the initial images the migrants had of the New World, as well as their later changes of opinion: among others, Da Orden, Una familia y un océano; Eduardo Ciafardo, “Cadenas migratorias e inmigración italiana.”

69 For example, Župan, Pepánek nezdara, vol. 1, 126–28. For an overview of these folkloric traditions, see Pavlicová and Uhlíková, “Vystěhovalectví do Ameriky.”

70 Čech-Vyšata, Patnáct let v Jižní Americe, 5–8.

71 Lewitt, The Transnational Villagers.

72 On the importance of chain networks in the emergence of permanent and temporary expatriate communities in the New World see Krebber, “Creed, Class, and Skills.”

73 On the similar situation in Hungary, see Puskás, “Consequences of Overseas,” 394.

74 Smutná and Smutný, Keď som sa já z mojho kraja, 21.

75 Public lecture of Rostislav Kocourek, employee of the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, “Rodiny vystěhovalectvím rozdělené,” for the “Workers’ Radio,” February 3, 1931, transcript in NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 33.

76 Vyhnanovský, Cestovní pasy a vystěhovalectví, 305.

77 Puskás, “Consequences of Overseas Migration,” 398–400.

78 Letter of December 23, 1929, written by a woman, but only identified by the postal address “Cyril B., Březce u Olomouce,” NA, fonds ČÚZ, box 30.

79 Poláček, Za velkou louži, 123–27, on the purchase (and subsequent sale) of the property in Argentina; passim for the frequent praise of “our dear, beautiful Czech land.”