THE BIRTH OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA was quite different from that of Poland. It was more difficult in that Czechoslovakia was truly born, not reborn as was Poland. But it was also easier, for the lands of the new nation had been almost entirely spared the destruction of war. The transition, though difficult, proceeded in a far more favorable environment than elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
Since the agreements for uniting the Czechs and Slovaks had taken place in a foreign country and were unknown to most of the people (see above), making them known and having them accepted at home became the most pressing task after the armistice. This was remarkably easy, for although Habsburg military authority disappeared as did that of the imperial offices in Vienna, a full panoply of regional and local administrative structures remained and could be influenced in favor of Masaryk and his ideas by representatives of the Allies. It was not difficult to find support for the new leadership, since Masaryk was clearly the most popular man amongst Czechs and Slovaks, and his word was readily accepted. The Czechoslovak National Council sitting in Paris declared itself the provisional government of Czechoslovakia in October of 1918, with Masaryk as its head. All of the Allies recognized the new regime, and when its leader came home to Prague two months later, he was given a hero's welcome.
The provisional government resigned in favor of an elected one after only eight months. After less than two years of independence a new constitution had been drawn up and ratified and a regular parliamentary democracy had begun to function. That Czechoslovakia remained a democracy throughout the interwar period is one of the few widely known facts of East European history. But the economic and social structure upon which this success was built is rarely understood, and the serious