Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

By Josef Korbel | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
Laying the Foundations

Sailing from New York to Europe toward the end of November 1918, Thomas G. Masaryk, provisional president of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, was preoccupied with the future of his country. Czechoslovakia was free and independent. He had been elected unanimously, in absentia, to the presidency by a provisional National Assembly. The dream had turned into reality--and yet, 44 one worry after another" raced across his mind. "Are we able to govern ourselves?" he pondered. "Can we . . . maintain our independence, maintain it permanently? Do we have enough ability, enough brains, enough perspicacity, enough will, enough resoluton, enough perseverance?" His tentative answers to these questions were in the affirmative, but the uneasy questions themselves would reoccur.

There were also other problems. Before the war, Masaryk had engaged in many political controversies and had become known for his biting criticism. Assuming that "basically, people

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