It is a melancholy duty to present to the public this posthumous work of my friend, and friend of my father, Dr Hubert Ripka. But it is good that a work should appear which can remind British readers of the existence of nations which are now too often forgotten, and especially of the author's own nation, the Czechs, who live at the very heart of our continent of Europe, in Bohemia, as it is known in history, or Czechoslovakia, as it has been called for the past half-century. It is also good that we should have the last thoughts on the affairs of these nations of one who was among the best-informed and most experienced observers of Central and Eastern Europe.
Hubert Ripka was a schoolboy under Austria-Hungary, and completed his university studies in the first years of the Czechoslovak Republic. After six years as Director of Archives at the War Ministry in Prague, he went into journalism, and in 1930 became foreign editor of Lidove Noviny, the outstanding liberal paper of Czechoslovakia (sometimes described as 'the Manchester Guardian of Central Europe'). In these years he made many journeys in Western and Central Europe, and was in close touch with internal and foreign policy in his own country. After the Munich disaster of 1938 he went into exile. In 1940 he became Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry of the exiled government of Czechoslovakia in London. During the absences of the Minister, Jan Masaryk, on official journeys to America, Ripka was responsible, under President Beneš, for his country's foreign relations. In 1945 he returned home, and served as Minister of Foreign Trade, while also lecturing as a professor of political history at Prague University. In 1948 the communist coup d'état drove him for a second time into exile, which lasted for the remaining ten years of his life, and was