Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War

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

22 The Death of Jan Masaryk (1948)

In the morning twilight of Wednesday, March 10th, 1948, the limp body of Jan Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia's popular and charismatic foreign minister, was discovered in the courtyard of the seventeenth-century Czernin Palace. The body lay on the stone pavement some 50 feet below the bathroom window of his official apartment in the Foreign Office Building.

Six hours later, the Communist-dominated government of Klement Gottwald broadcast to the world that Masaryk's death had been an act of suicide. The tragic news was transmitted on New York's 7 A.M. news. After allowing Prague-based correspondents to file their dispatches, the Czechoslovak government severed all communications with the outside world.

Shortly thereafter, Jan Papánek, the Czechoslovak ambassador to the United Nations, leaked to some correspondents in his office his view that Masaryk had been murdered. Papánek later officially requested UN secretary-general Trygve Lie to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council. His note demanded a debate on his charges of a foreign-directed seizure of power in Prague, resulting in the destruction of Czechoslovakia's national independence and thereby creating a threat to world peace. At the accompanying press conference, he rehearsed his reading of the Czechoslovak crisis and, at the end, voiced disbelief of the suicide story.

Whatever the accuracy may be of the conflicting versions of his death, Masaryk must be perceived as a victim of the Cold War. His premature demise inflamed the intensity of the rival power polemics,

-320-

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Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • Notes xxvi
  • 1- The Independence Movement Commences 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2- Founding of the Legions: Entrapment in Anti- Bolshevik Intervention 11
  • Notes 26
  • 3- The Legions Anabasis To the Sea 30
  • Notes 46
  • 4- Masaryk in America 50
  • Notes 62
  • 5- Drawing the Frontiers 63
  • Notes 70
  • 6- Internal Stabilization 72
  • Notes 84
  • 7- The Beneš Succession: Storm Warnings (1935-38) 85
  • Notes 101
  • 8- The Sudeten Fires Flare (1938) 103
  • Notes 121
  • 9- Summer Turmoil (1938) 124
  • Notes 130
  • 10- The Runciman Mission (summer 1938) 131
  • Notes 148
  • 11- Munich (september 1938) 151
  • Notes 169
  • 12- Aftermath of Munich (1938-41) 172
  • Notes 185
  • 13- War on Two Fronts (1941) 187
  • Notes 202
  • 14- Wartime Conferences And Treaties 205
  • Notes 215
  • 15- The Slovak Uprising: The Government's Return Home 218
  • Notes 232
  • 16- The Government Reconstituted On Home Ground (1945) 235
  • Notes 245
  • 17- Nationalities Transfers And Allied Army Withdrawals (1945) 247
  • Notes 255
  • 18- Democratic Socialization (1945-46) 257
  • Notes 271
  • 19- Cold War Beginnings (1946) 273
  • Notes 287
  • 20- Storm Signals (1947) 290
  • Notes 306
  • 21- The Communist Coup (1947-48) 308
  • Notes 318
  • 22- The Death of Jan Masaryk (1948) 320
  • Notes 332
  • Abbreviations 333
  • Bibliography 335
  • Index 343
  • About the Authors 353
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