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Czechoslovakia (formally Czechoslovak Republic, later Czech and Slovak Federative Republic) (Československo) was a country in Central Europe, in existence from 1918 until January 1, 1993, when it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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The early years

The creation of Czechoslovakia was the culmination of the long struggle of the Czechs against their Austrian rulers. It was largely accomplished by the nation's first and second presidents, Tomas Masaryk and Edvard Beneš. The union of the Czech lands and Slovakia was officially proclaimed in Prague on November 14, 1918. The Treaty of St. Germain[?], signed in September 1919 formally recognized the new republic. Ruthenia was later added by the Treaty of Trianon (June, 1920).

Due to its ethnic diversity, the separate histories and greatly differing religious, cultural, and social traditions of the Czechs and Slovaks, the new state was far from being a stable political entity. The Germans and Magyars (Hungarians) of Czechoslovakia openly agitated against the territorial settlements. Although the constitution of 1920 provided for autonomy for Ruthenia, in practice autonomy was constantly postponed.

Hitler's rise in Germany, the German annexation (Anschluss) of Austria, the resulting revival of revisionism in Hungary and of agitation for autonomy in Slovakia, and the appeasement policy of the Western powers (France and the United Kingdom) left Czechoslovakia without allies, exposed to hostile Germany and Hungary on three sides and to unsympathetic Poland on the north.

World War II

Ethnic problems led to a European crisis when the German nationalist minority, led by Konrad Henlein[?] and vehemently backed by Hitler, demanded the union of the predominantly German districts with Germany. Threatening war, Hitler extorted through the Munich Agreement in September 1938 the cession of the Bohemian, Moravian and Czech-Silesian borderlands - Sudetenland. Poland and Hungary obtained territorial cessions shortly thereafter.

Beneš resigned the presidency in October of 1938 and was succeeded by Emil Hácha[?]. In November of 1938, the truncated state, renamed Czecho-Slovakia, was reconstituted in three autonomous units - Bohemia and Moravia, Slovakia, and Ruthenia.

In March 1939, Hitler forced Hácha to surrender Czecho-Slovakia to German control and made Bohemia and Moravia into a German protectorate. Slovakia gained nominal independence as a satellite state under Josef Tiso[?]. Ruthenia was awarded to Hungary. After the outbreak of the war, Beneš set up a provisional government in London, and Czech military units fought alongside the Allied forces.

Except for the brutalities of the German occupation, Czechoslovakia suffered relatively little from the war. Prague was taken over in May 1945 by Soviet troops, and both Soviet and Allied troops were withdrawn in the same year.

The Communist Era

The Communist Party seized control of Czechoslovakia on February 24, 1948.

On January 19, 1969 student Jan Palach[?] set himself on fire in Prague's Wenceslas Square[?] to protest the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968.

Velvet revolution of 1989

ISO 3166-1 country codes: CS (obsolete), CZ for Czech Republic, SK for Slovakia

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