The Czechoslovak independence movement commenced with the first volleys fired against Belgrade in the summer of 1914, when Archduke Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated at Sarajevo on June 28th. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, on holiday with his family at Schandau in Saxony, promptly detected the possibility, even the likelihood, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's dismemberment in the event of a defeat. He was heartened in contemplating the opportunities engendered by the war. He hurried home to explore the reaction among his friends and colleagues at Prague to the chances of launching a national independence movement. Although he was theoretically a dedicated pacifist, he knew that national independence would not sprout automatically, nor necessarily alone by peaceful diplomacy in courting the support of the Great Powers. It would have to be painstakingly organized at home and abroad. On the train homeward bound, he was encouraged by overhearing strains of anti-Austrian sentiment among the soldiers he encountered.
He proceeded cautiously in his soundings among his parliamentary and political colleagues, foremost among whom were Antonin Švehla, the Agrarian leader, and Václav J. Klofáč, founder and for many years the leader of the National Socialist Party and editor before his arrest of its daily paper, the Czech Word. Eduard Beneš signed on in September 1914 on his own initiative, when he joined the editorial staff of the independence organ. Beneš felt impelled to move beyond the passivity of the nationalist group to a more positive attitude. He approached Masaryk, who assured him he had already started working and proposed their collaboration, which became lifelong. Other