CSDE

History and heritage

Ethnic changes

Undoubtedly, the ethnic Bohemian group occupied the local countryside at the end of the first millennium. After the Thirty Years´ War during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Czech population was forced out by German settlers, who moved from the north and the poorer border parts to be closer to fertile centre of the Bohemian basin. The River Elbe became a language border in this region. After the constitution of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the inflow of Czech-speaking settlers appeared again, however, to a large extent they were forced out after twenty years; first in the abridged Bohemian territories and later in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia established under German occupation in 1939. Following World War II, the German residents were repatriated to Germany and Austria and thus the Štětí region on the right bank of the River Elbe became Czech again, similar to the rest of the former German Sudetenland border area. These ethnic changes did not affect the villages on the left bank of the River Elbe because they - particularly Hněvice and Račice – had always been Czech.

Formation of the small town

In the 1320s, the administrator of the Queen's estate in Bohemia - and therefore of the dowry lands in the Mělník area,–was the Prague-based burgher Balduin (? Paldwin). In 1312 Queen Elisabeth of Bohemia instructed him to sell her property in Štětí to local peasants. Her young husband, King John of Luxembourg formally confirmed her decision in his letter dated 28 December 1312.

Hussite wars

The Bohemian kings and queens applied their sovereignty as owners of the Mělník lands only by way of the execution of jurisdiction, collection of declared fees, and the vindication of parish priests. This practice continued until the Hussite wars; however no specific records were preserved regarding the small town of Štětí. In 1421, Praguers (the Hussite wing) seized Mělník and probably Štětí, too. In the Litoměřice Region, Žižka built his ingeniously fortified Kalich Castle. He then attached its name to his predicate and from that time, signed himself as "Jan Žižka of Trocnov and Kalich". His soldiers marched through Central Bohemia to Roudnice where they burnt down an Augustinian monastery.

Thirty Years´ War

Considerable misfortune was to hit the small town of Štětí with the long Thirty Years´ War. Just three days after the fateful Battle of White Mountain (8 November 1620), the winning armed forces of the catholic league attacked the town of Štětí, then known as Wichstettel, on 11 November 1620. The town was plundered up with many people killed. In 1631, the Saxons, as the allies of the Swedes, invaded Bohemia and plundered the town again. Soldiers forced open the town coffers and stole the orphan's money. The town witnessed an even worse situation during the Swedish invasions from 1640 - 1648. This is best documented by the large number of abandoned farms and burnt-out properties cheaply sold by the town hall to German settlers arriving from the North. It is also recorded that in 1642, Adam Rybář was pardoned for one half of his library debts because "his house was demolished by the soldiers down to the foundations and then went down the drain". For several decades from the end of the Thirty Years´ War, there was much migration from the border areas to the depopulated central territories. This continued in the 18th century when the language border shifted up to the River Elbe in many places as well as in Štětí and to the left bank of the River Elbe under the southern hills of the Czech middle lands to Třebenice.

Czechs and Germans

If existing records are the most accurate, then the residents of the town were mixed again before 1625: ⅔ Czechs and ⅓ Germans. The Czech language was used almost exclusively for talking and writing. By the end of the Thirty Years' War, the proportion shifted. However, the significant inflow of German people showed after 1650 when the municipality cheaply sold the abandoned or ravaged estates to newcomers, mostly to Germans from northern border area. Following the constitution of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the number of Czechs increased rapidly and in 1921 and 1930, over 40% and 44% respectively, Czechs lived there. Almost 46% of Czechs lived there before seizure of the border area by Germans in 1938. During the German occupation, the vast majority of Czechs immigrated to the Bohemian central lands. According to the German census, 15.3% Czechs still remained in Štětí as at 17 May 1939.

NEW AGE

The revolution in 1848 and the results

The new age came to light in 1848 with the revolutionary unrest across Europe. Despite the fact that abolishing the corvée on 7 September 1848 did not relate to Štětí itself, the surrounding villages, today associated with Štětí and then living under serfdom with the establishment, appreciably welcomed this act. The abolishment of patrimonial establishment for Štětí terminated the jurisdiction of the establishment office residing in Mělník. The establishment of the independent municipality came into force with the special administration of a municipal estate and the free election of the officers.

Constitution of Czechoslovakia

World War I interrupted the successful economic development of the town of Štětí and its vicinity. As elsewhere, many men were conscripted to the army and died on the European battlefields.

Construction in the era between the wars

Shortly after the occupation of the town of Štětí by Czech troops, some changes to life in the town occurred. Following consolidation of the situation, the number of Czech residents increased quickly and a brief period of welfare and profitability between the wars began. The squares and vast majority of streets were renamed after Czech cultural and political figures. In the school, teaching in Czech began in several classrooms in addition to the existing classrooms for German children. On the north-east periphery of the town, there was a new quarter of family houses and villas. In 1933 - 1934, modern Czech Masaryk schools were constructed in the town. In the garden of the T. G. Masaryk Elementary School, there is the only known sculptural group of two presidents - T. G. Masaryk and Eduard Beneš. The first school principal was named as the Bohemian patriot Augustin Lukeš. He also became the very first mayor of the town from the time of the Thirty Years' War. Due to anti-German activities, he was sentenced by the Nazis and he died in the concentration camp in Auschwitz.

German occupation

Following separation of the border territories in October 1938 based on the Munich Dictate, the vast majority of Czech and Jewish residents moved from Štětí to inland Bohemia. Štětí was joined to Germany as a part of Sudetengau district. During the period of occupation only a few Czech businessmen and those Czechs who were in mixed marriages stayed in Štětí. Over the war period, no substantial changes to the town were made. Only Czechoslovak symbols and Czech signs vanished and the streets and squares were renamed after German and Nazi celebrities. The names of German administrators appeared on the signboards of the shops and trades formerly belonging to Czechs or Jews. The Czech Masaryk Schools were filled with German children. In fact, the history of local area - and all of Sudetenland - during the war is rather shrouded in the dark because all records of life during that time disappeared with the German citizens who were repatriated after the war.

End of World War II in Štětí

At the end of the war, the North Bohemian area of the imperial Sudetenland district was first entered by troops from the Second Polish Army under the command of General Swierczewski together with the Soviet Fifth Guard Army under the command of General A. S. Zhdanov and the 28th Army of General Luchinksi. The Czechs who escaped in 1938 returned to the town. As early as the 22 May, teaching in two classrooms of the town school resumed. Václav Míchal, who had previously taught at the school before the occupation, became the school principal. Early in August 1945, the wholesale repatriation of German nations back to Germany took place.

The Štětí area after 1945

Following the repatriation, about 100 Germans remained in Štětí, especially those in mixed marriages and several proven anti-Nazis. The Czech residents moved into the empty houses. The streets and squares were renamed, i.e. LargeSquare > Benešovo Square, Small Square > Husovo Square, Nádražní Street > Stalin Street and the other new names were Masarykova, Lukešova, Horova, Komenského, Smetanova etc.

The paper mill and the town

The seizure of power by the Communists in February 1948 took place as smoothly as elsewhere in the border regions of Bohemia. The leading positions were occupied by communists and their supporters. The development of the paper mill premises as we know it today took place over several phases. For each phase of the paper mill extension, new employees were required and new flats were constructed for them. In the 1950s, the almost uninterrupted development of the national enterprise "Severočeské papírny - Sepap" and the town of Štětí including its infrastructure started. The construction of 3,200 new flats - mostly in high rise prefabricated buildings - established the town as the face of a settlement area despite the resourceful urban composition of some locations, e.g. the high rise buildings. Several lodging houses for the paper mill, elementary apprentice's school including hostel, industrial high school and the supreme industrial school of packaging technology were also established. Also, the left bank of the River Elbe was opened to the public with the construction of the bridge originally intended for the cargo railway siding at the paper mill. By the end of the 20th century, the following important structures were finished: the oarsman canal in Račice (1986), the town laundry (1993), the performance stage at Husovo Square (1994), the town library (1996), Nové Square (1998), the rental house with starter flats (2003) and the recreation zone by the River Elbe.

The summer port is operated in the town from April to October to navigate through Roudnice nad Labem to Litoměřic on a pleasure craft. Biannually, the town organizes the National Brass Music Orchestra Festival (FEDO), visited by musicians from Bohemia and abroad and the town lives through the brass music for several days. The festival is the most important cultural event. The recreation zone by the River Elbe offers a skateboard park for in-line skating, playgrounds for children and benches. The natural parks are widely used by people from all generations. 

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Informační centrum města Štětí, Obchodní 547, 411 08 Štětí, tel.: 416 812 715, email: infocentrum@steti.cz
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