Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War

By John O. Crane; Sylvia E. Crane | Go to book overview
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Introduction

I was prompted to write Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War by the circumstance of my lifelong association with that keystone country in the heart of Europe.

The title of this book is self-explanatory. It is the contemporary story of how this Slavic nation located astride the East-West watershed innocently and for no reasons of her own became involved in the Cold War on four successive occasions and emerged as its principal victim. These turning points in modern Czechoslovak history occurred during the year of its founding in 1918 in the midst of the Bolshevik Revolution, in the Munich betrayal in 1938, in the Communist coup of 1948, and in the Soviet occupation in 1968. We leave the last episode to other historians, as my personal attachment with the Masaryk family precluded later access to people and archives within the country. We terminate this account with the death of Jan Masaryk in March 1948.

My family's relationship with Czechoslovakia commenced in 1896 when, during one of his perennial visits to Russia, my father, Charles R. Crane, president of the Chicago-based Crane Company, stopped off in Prague to call on the 46-year old scholar and Slavic expert, Professor Tomáš G. Masaryk, in his modest apartment in ancient, colorful Malástrana (Old Town). Their interest in Russia fostered a mutual attraction, which was strengthened over the years by frequent reciprocal stopovers and numerous family exchanges. Five years later my father founded a chair in Slavonic studies at the University of Chicago, which was filled in the second year by Masaryk.

While Masaryk was lecturing in Chicago about the smaller nations

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