Czechs are marking 81 years since the death of Czechoslovakia’s first president T. G. Masaryk.
Masaryk had great merit in bringing about the establishment of an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks after WWI and as the country’s first president laid down the foundations of democracy.
Father of Czechoslovakia, the very first Czechoslovak president, philosopher and sociologist, humanist and democrat, the 2nd Greatest Czech according the national vote in 2005 (the winner was the founder of the university – king Charles IV.)
Dubbed the Father of the Nation, Masaryk was a much loved and respected politician and is revered to this day.
As head of the Czechoslovak National Council from 1916 to 1918, he provided an ideological basis for Czechoslovak propaganda, helped create the Czechoslovak Legions and was instrumental in securing the Entente’s recognition of Czechoslovakia as an allied state. In 1918 he became its first president.
Masaryk’s Czechoslovakia became one of the strongest democracies on the European mainland, a mainland that entered the 1930s faced with the threat of an increasingly terrifying Hitler-led Germany.
Czechs made up a whopping 51% of the country, and despite his best efforts, many felt that Masaryk didn’t provide the Slavs with the self-government they so desired. Making Czechoslovakia economically viable was another momentous task, especially in a post-war Europe that Masaryk described as ‘a laboratory atop a graveyard’.
He resigned in 1935 and died just two years later on September 14, 1937. He died before the Munich Agreement was signed, thus saving him the horror of seeing the country he had worked so hard to create dismembered by rampant fascism.