In the 1920s and 1930s Josef Pekař was at the peak of his career. He was a professor at Charles University, a welcome guest in the highest cultural and political circles, and was ever a public figure. Gradually, however, he got into more frequent disputes with his younger colleagues, mostly his students, who began to perceive some historical problems differently. At the same time he began to develop the mental and physical ills of old age, which affected his ability to work. At Christmas 1936, he was hit by a serious blow – his half-brother František, the holder of the family estate in Daliměřice, died. At his funeral, Pekař, supported by his neighbours, spoke but didn’t finish the speech. He died in Prague on 23rd January, 1937.
“We lived next to Pekař for years and we thought we knew him perfectly, his life and work. Yet today, when we think about each of these and try to capture their connection, we realise with plaintive astonishment how little we do know, and that the personality of Pekař as the enigmatic hero of his great books also remains a mystery, concealed and deliberately obscured, as if we see the bright, smiling full moon and don’t recollect the other face, turned towards the dark. Should we have the right to penetrate this veil? Could we recognise what lies behind it? Hardly, and at best an assumption, a conjecture. In the Jenišovice cemetery, this green garden, a precious seed was set in the ground. May all that his soul dreamed of for his native region and all his homeland germinate from it in the future.” Josef Vítězslav Šimák, 1937
After Pekař’s death, a reckoning of his life and work began, but the events of World War II changed the perception of the historian. For the purposes of Nazi propaganda at the time of the Protectorate, his statements and excerpts were taken out of context, and it was ‘proven’ that he was one of the few Czechs who truly understood the ‘size and importance’ of Hitler’s Third Reich. Pekař could not defend himself. After the liberation in 1945 there came a different world. Despite efforts to clear the name of Josef Pekař for the general public, he was condemned for a long time by the Communist regime as a representative of corrupt bourgeois historiography, and ‘Pekařery’ became a symbol of everything wrong in the exploration of the past. Although a new edition of his Book of Kost Castle was published in 1970, he did not receive full rehabilitation until after the November 1989 revolution.
The river Jizera springs in the Jizera Mountains, flows through Krkonoše (Giant Mountains), the Krokonoše foothills and subsequently crosses the Ještěd-Kozákov saddle. Throughout most of its course it is fast-flowing; in fact, up to Turnov it runs mainly in deep valleys with steep and rocky walls, alternating between sections with a relatively steep gradient and a boulder bed, and calmer sections, especially approaching weirs. At Malá Skála, the Jizera enters the Bohemian Cretaceous Basin, meandering significantly near Rakousy, but after the Turnov valley the river enters into a wide and shallow flood plain with many villages along both banks. From there it flows through open country and has only a slight gradient. At the weir in Dolánky, the Malá Jizera is separated from the Jizera and becomes the main Turnov race, reuniting with the Jizera in the town. This morphologically indented area is drained by a number of small watercourses.
A significant right-bank tributary of the Jizera, with its confluence at Dolánky near Turnov, is the Vazovec stream. The karst system of several ponors, sink holes, half-blind valleys and several associated springs (Ondříkovice pseudo-karst system) is linked to the valley of the Vazovec stream. Other major tributaries include the Stebenka and Libuňka streams, which have their confluence with the Jizera in the area of Turnov. The Jizera is not only an important watercourse in its own right, it is also a trout river and is used for canoeing, but it serves primarily as a source of drinking water.
Jenišovice is located about 5 km north of Turnov. It consists of two parts – Jenišovice and Odolenovice – which were in the past independent villages.
The oldest historical mention of Jenišovice dates back to 1143. The village was mentioned as the property of the Strahov Monastery, to which it was donated by the eleventh Bishop of Prague, Jan I (Jeniš). The name of the village probably derives from his name. Nowadays, Jenišovice is losing its agricultural character and changing into a suburban residential area with basic civic amenities. New construction is developing briskly in the Trávníky, Steblík and Marjánka neighbourhoods.
The natural landmark of the village is the Baroque Church of St. George built by the Desfours family in the first half of the 18th century on the site of a former wooden church. In the lowest part of the village towards Turnov there is a farmstead of the Hrubý Rohozec estate, Červený Dvůr. It is worth mentioning that the staff was associated with the king George of Poděbrady. Thanks to the work of the local priest Gustav Adolf Procházka after the coup d’état in 1918, up to 90% of the inhabitants of Jenišovice and the surrounding area enrolled in the newly-formed Czechoslovak Church. The choir was built with a significant contribution from the members of the religious community and inaugurated on 7th July, 1929. The local elementary school is also worth mentioning, in the construction of which the famous Czech architect and Perret Prize laureate Karel Hubáček, creator of the famous Liberec silhouette Ještěd, took part.
In addition to Professor Josef Pekař (1870-1937), Josef Dlask (1782-1853), already mentioned – a chronicler and educated magistrate from nearby Dolánky – is buried in the new cemetery.
Map of Josef Pekař´s Thematic Trail by Jiří Lode (2020)
Last farewell to prof. Pekař in the yard of his family farm in Daliměřice on 27 January 1937
Placing a coffin in a family tomb in the cemetery in Jenišovice
Jizera river before the regulation as Josef Pekař knew it during his youth
View of the Jizera river from the rock lookout Pantheon in Malá Skála
The dominant feature of Jenišovice is the baroque church of St. George from the first half of the 18th century
The family tomb in Jenišovice, where is prof. Josef Pekař buried (current state)