The Transfer of the Sudeten Germans: A Study of Czech-German Relations, 1933-1962

By Radomír Luža | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4 Preparations

Czechoslovak foreign policy did not reflect the confusion and divisions that marked other countries. It was closely linked with the personality of Eduard Beneš, its foreign minister from 1918 until his promotion to the presidency on Dec. 18, 1935.1 Hard-working, with an acute intellect, ready to compromise, cautious but obstinate in negotiations, and possessing political intelligence and diplomatic skill of the highest order, Beneš won an international reputation at the League of Nations in Geneva. In public, his style was restrained; his speeches were weighty and often tedious. With a rigid concept of public service, he had fought all his life for the principle that the public interest comes first. A democrat and humanist by nature and conviction, he was too often anxious to conciliate. Having mastered the game of political bargaining in a democratic system, he lacked the aggressiveness necessary to meet the challenge of modern totalitarian forces in two decisive moments. Beneš believed that a cause that

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1
Dr. Beneš was born in Kožlany in 1884. He studied sociology in France and began his academic career in Prague. During the war he joined T. G. Masaryk and became one of the most distinguished leaders of the movement for an independent Czechoslovakia. For more information, see Edward B. Hitchcock, I Built a Temple for Peace. The Life of Eduard Beneš; Compton Mackenzie, Dr. Beneš; Jan Opoćenský, ed., Edward Beneš. Essays and Reflections Presented on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday. The chapter on the Beneš policy by Paul E. Zinner in The Diplomats 1919-1939 ( Gordon A. Craig, ed.), pp. 100-22, is competent. The brief portraits by Lewis Namier ( In the Nazi Era, p. 135), P. Wandycz ( France, pp. 383-86), and the Earl of Avon ( The Eden Memoirs. Facing the Dictators, pp. 172-73) are lucid. Jan Křen gave an interesting-- although biased--picture of Beneš ( Do emigrace, pp. 242 ff.).

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