No Cure in Sight for Czech President Zeman
“Zeman insists that the article “Hitler is a Gentleman” was written by Peroutka and that it exists. Ovčáček will keep on searching.”
That’s the newspaper headline from last week following the discovery of an article published by the paper Rudé právo in 1937, titled “Hitler-gentleman,” written by someone else. This is the latest bit of news in the more than one year long scandal involving the Czech president Miloš Zeman, who in a speech claimed that Czechoslovakia’s most famous journalist Ferdinand Peroutka wrote an article in the country’s best-known pre-war magazine Přítomnost titled “Hitler is a gentleman.” Peroutka’s living niece Theresa Kaslova sued the president for an apology; Peroutka was anything but an admirer of Hitler and was in fact interned in a German concentration camp for his political views. Kaslova won her case, but the Office of the president is appealing on the grounds that this may open up more lawsuits against the state. Zeman continues to insist that the article exists and his Press secretary Ovčáček vows to continue the search, noting that the discovery of the právo piece is “a highly interesting piece information that proves everything I have said in the course of searching for the article by Peroutka so far.”
Peroutka was the editor-in-chief of Přítomnost, and the entire magazine collection is well-documented and accessible in the archives of the magazine’s offices. No such article exists. Period. The absurd lie – the claim that Peroutka wrote the words Hitler is a gentleman - makes this whole affair the most embarrassing case the infamous dynamic duo: the head of state and his pathetic pseudo-intellectual minion Ovčáček, who abuses his position of Press secretary to litter the media with his personal misguided notions.
At this point, the situation of repeated lies and denials of the truth by Zeman and Ovčáček has become so blatant so as to paradoxically offer an explanation of their behaviour. The explanation is a neuroscientific one: if someone repeatedly denies truth in the face of facts or constantly tells lie after lie, one can safely diagnose either a personality disorder or a case of a severe memory defect, in which the brain pastes in similar but not exact facts to patch up a hole in memory. The “cooperation” between Ovčáček and Zeman is proof of just that. And there is no cure in sight.
Martin Jan Stránský MD
Neurologist and Publisher of Přítomnost