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Czecho-Slovakia - Creation

In 1914, Tomás Garrigue Masaryk, the renowned sociologist and professor of philosophy at Prague's Charles University, left Bohemia and went into exile. Together with his collaborators, the Czech Edvard Benes and the Slovak Milan Rastislav Stefánik, T. G. Masaryk began to write the first chapters of the Czechoslovak foreign resistance. He established and led the Czechoslovak National Council abroad, which organized its own forces from compatriots living abroad and from military captives and deserters from the ranks of the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Czechoslovak troops were deployed at the fronts in France, Italy and above all in Russia. In this country (which was shaken by civil war after the Bolshevik seizure of power), Czechoslovak legions, numbering several tens of thousands of men, controlled the entire trans-Siberian arterial railway. It was primarily thanks to the legions and their successful military performance with the Czechoslovak National Council, which won international recognition for the Czechoslovak state. It was founded on the idea of Czechoslovakism - one nation with two branches, Czech and Slovak.

At home the situation was more difficult than it was abroad. Supply problems and economic difficulties increased. Initially, all the important Czech political parties maintained their loyalty toward the state. And when they didn't, Austro-Hungary did not hesitate to resort to harsh punishments. The Czech politicians Karel Kramár and Alois Rasín were sentenced to death for treason. Their lives were saved at the last moment by the death of Emperor Francis Joseph I, who had not managed to confirm the sentence. The succeeding emperor, Charles I (also known as Karl I), granted them clemency and they could both participate in politics after parliament convened in 1917.

In the war years, the Czech political representatives created a common political body - the National Committee. Individual parties were represented on this according to the election results of 1911. On October 28, 1918, after the publication of a note from Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Julius Andrássy on Austria's willingness to negotiate an armistice, the National Committee declared an independent Czechoslovak Republic. A state holiday on October 28 serves as a reminder of the establishment of the Czechoslovak state.

With the collapse of the Austro-hungarian monarchy at the end of the Great War, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed. Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar aspirations for independence from the Habsburg state and voluntarily united with the Czechs. For historical reasons, Slovaks were not at the same level of economic and technological development as the Czechs, but the freedom and opportunity found in Czechoslovakia enabled them to make strides toward overcoming these inequalities. However, the gap never was fully bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the 75 years of the union.

The declaration of the establishment of the state did not mean the automatic assumption of power on the entire territory. Czech Germans living in the border areas of the state, known as the Sudetenland, did not want to lose their position as the ruling nation. Referring to the right of self-determination for nations, they declared several independent provinces, which were joined to the Austrian Republic. After negotiations between Czech and German politicians fell through, the borderlands were seized by incipient Czechoslovak armed forces.

At the peace conference in Versailles, the victors also decided Czechoslovakia's borders. Defining the borders of all the succession states was complicated for historical, ethnic, economic and strategic military reasons. In the Czech lands, the historic borders with minor changes were applied in favor of Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovak state power was not established immediately in Slovakia, which had been part of the Hungarian kingdom for centuries. Hungary, the state succeeding the Hungarian kingdom, did not want to surrender part of its territory or population in favor of the new state. Czechoslovak military units were obliged to put down Hungarian resistance, including a communist attempt to set up a Hungarian Soviet Republic. The Slovak nation was able to develop incomparably better and to a greater extent in Czechoslovakia than it could have before 1918.

On February 29, 1920, the National Assembly adopted the Czechoslovak Constitution. Tomás Garrigue Masaryk was elected president. The protection of minorities was already stipulated in the peace treaties of Versailles. In view of the multinational makeup of the population, this was confirmed in the Constitution of Czechoslovakia and in a language law, which was adopted along with the Constitution.

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