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The Sokol movement (from the Slavic word for falcon) is a youth sport movement and gymnastics organization first founded in Czech region of Austria-Hungary, Prague, in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner. Primarily a fitness training center, the Sokol, also through lectures, discussions, and group outings provided what Tyrš viewed as physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation. This training extended to members of all classes, and eventually to women. The movement also spread across all the regions populated by the Slavic culture in German Empire (Poland (Sokół)), Serbia, Bulgaria (Macedonia), Russian Empire (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus), and the rest of Austria-Hungary such as Slovenia and Croatia. In many of these nations, the organization also served as an early precursor to the Scouting movements. Though officially an institution "above politics", the Sokol played an important part in the development of Czech nationalism, providing a forum for the spread of mass-based nationalist ideologies. The articles published in the Sokol journal, lectures held in the Sokol libraries, and theatrical performances at the massive gymnastic festivals called Slets (Czech plural: slety- meaning "meetings of birds" from the verb "slétnout se" - come together by flying) helped to craft and disseminate the Czech nationalist mythology and version of history.

Early history

The idea for physical training centers was not a new one. The...
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