Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy of Edvard Benes in the 1930s

By Igor Lukes | Go to book overview

the gradual deconstruction of Bolshevism. Their plan failed utterly. More than a decade later, most European countries had granted full recognition to the Kremlin while Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were not even on speaking terms. On occasion, tensions escalated into break-ins and shootings and arrests of Czechoslovak diplomats in Moscow. In 1933, however, Adolf Hitler Machtergreij'ung would serve as a reminder to Prague that a dramatic improvement in its relations with the Soviet Union was absolutely necessary. It would have to be obtained at almost any cost.


Notes
1.
Karel Amerling, "Vzpomínka z gymnásia," in 50 let Dra Edvarda Benefe ( Prague: Pokrok, 1934), 40. Amerling later became a professor of medicine at Charles University and remained Beneš's friend. Beneg attended the gymnasium at Vinohrady, a district of Prague.
2.
An Austrian border police officer was uncertain whether he should let Professor Masaryk board the train into neutral Italy, and he therefore decided to seek guidance by telegraph from the police in Prague. But the train for Venice would have left before an answer could be received; moreover, there was no telling what the reply would have been. Therefore, Masaryk produced his identification card as a member of parliament, claimed immunity, frightened the policeman, and took his place on the train. Masaryk, The Making of a State: Memoirs and Observations, 1914-1918 ( New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1923), 35.
3.
František Soukup, 28. říjen 1918: Předpoklady a vývoj našeho odboje domácího v československé revoluci za státní samostatnost národa ( Prague: Ústřední Dělnické Knihkupectví a Nakladatelství Antonín Zasvěcený a Orbis, 1928), 2: 1006.
4.
Arthur Werner, Eduard Beneš: Der Mensch und der Staatsmann ( Prague: Verlag Roland Morawitz, n.d. [perhaps 1935]), 136.
5.
The Beau-Rivage Hotel in Geneva was associated in the minds of Central Europeans with the stabbing of Elisabeth of Austria in 1898.
6.
Beneš liked to say that he had to crawl "through the thickets" to avoid getting caught by the Austrian and Bavarian border police on his way to exile in 1915; see Edward B. Hitchcock , "I Built a Temple for Peace": The Life of Edvard Benef ( London: Harper, 1940), 161. Alas, a passport deposited in the MHA-B, personal matters, box 1, leaves no doubt about it: Beneš left the country on 2 September 1915 with a passport no. 90 RP 106 issued to a traveling salesman Miroslav Šícha, Vertreter der Firma Hruby, Lehrapparatenfabrik. Interestingly, Beneš used the passport without any change; it had Šícha's name, photograph, and description.
7.
I am grateful to Dr. Antonin Klimek, senior researcher of the Historical Institute of the Czech Army, Prague, for his guidance regarding archival documents on Edvard Beneš's youth.
8.
MHA-B, box: Articles about Beneš, 1. The quotation is from an unpublished manuscript of Ladislav Kunte, "Do třiceti let,"22-23. The manuscript is undated but it makes a reference to President Beneg; therefore, it must have been written after 18 December 1935 and before 5 October 1938. Most likely, Kunte wrote the article in 1936 or 1937. Kunte (b. 22 April 1874), formerly a Catholic priest, was not a historian by training. But as a collaborator of Masaryk--he was an editor of Čas--and later of Beneš, Kunte had access to an impressive array of information regarding Edvard Beneš's youth. Some of the documents he quotes came from Beneš's family archives.
9.
Antonín Klimek, Zrození státníka, Edvard Beneš, 28.5.1884-24.9.1919 ( Prague: Melantrich, 1992), 4.
10.
MHA-B, Personalities, box 8, file General Štefánik. The opinions come from an

-23-

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