1918 Vznik samostatného československého státu

Title in English 1918 The emergence of an independent Czechoslovak state


Year of publication 2018
Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In the years during World War I Czech politics took a turn towards radicalism as a result of the activities abroad of T. G. Masaryk and Edward Beneš, the future presidents. The defeat of the Austria-Hungary cleared the way for the foundation of an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks (1918, 28th October). Czech politicians did not seriously anticipate the dissolution of the Habsburg monarchy or entertain the idea of an independent republic until some time into the First World War of 1914-18. In December 1914 Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, an academic and leader of a small Czech political party, left Prague and went abroad, organising opposition to the Habsburgs and eventually propagating the idea of an independent Czechoslovak state. From Rome he went to Geneva, Paris, and London, where he stayed from 1915-17, then to Russia, to help organise Czechoslovak forces formed from deserting units and prisoners of war. In 1916 Franz Joseph died and was succeeded by Charles I, who attempted political reforms, and pursued chances of a separate peace. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Czechoslovak troops became involved in struggles for the Siberian railroad from May 1918, shortly after Masaryk had left via the Far East for the United States. In January 1918 President Wilson's Fourteen Points statement had supported “autonomous development” for the peoples of Austria-Hungary, while Czech politicians at home had also begun to make pro-independence declarations. After the prospect of separate peace with Austria was abandoned, the French and other Allies moved to support the idea of an independent Czechoslovak state. A declaration of Czechoslovak independence was issued in Washington on 18 October; Austria surrendered on 28 October; and the Prague National Committee proclaimed an independent state that same evening.