Making of a State: Czechoslovakia

Making of a State: Czechoslovakia


his video is part of Project Homecoming, more
on that later. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, as its name suggests,
was divided into two parts, the Austrian, and the Hungarian. These parts where then further subdivided,
on the Austrian side today’s Czechia was divided in to Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia
and on the Hungarian side today’s Slovakia was, ehh just Hungary. Hungary was very particular in it’s idea
of “who cares it’s all mine”. Then again that’s the idea followed by any
imperial nation not just Hungary. But I digress. This direct control of Slovakia by hungary
for about a thousand years but more prominent in the last 200, meant that Slovaks even though
having a very small number of intelectual which ended up leading the nationalistic movement
in the 19th and early 20th century, had practically speaking no middle or higher class. Most slovaks where farmers, minors and low
skilled factory workers. And even though there where certain aristocrats
and intellectuals with slovak roots, they mostly considered themselves as Hungairians
either for practical reasons or actual self identity. When we compare that to the Czechs, it’s
a very different picture. Bohemia was a very prominent kingdom within
the HRE and even though it then fell under the Habsburg control it always retain a certain
kind of autonomy. Meaning the Czech people had a thriving middle
class, an aristocracy and numerous intellectuals. This is not to mean they weren’t restrain
at all by Austrian rules and in fact almost any middle or high class Czech had to know
German if they wanted to progress their career in any meaningful way. But when compared to the Slovaks they where
leaps ahead in social progress and personal freedoms. With all that said by the end of the 19th
century both Czechs and Slovaks were fighting for some sort of autonomy, whether that be
recognized equality within the Empire or complete succession from it, depends on who you ask. There where many movements each with a different
goal and a different plan to get there. In Czechia the most prominent political views
by the end of the 19th century didn’t really consider Slovakia. This is not to say there weren’t any Czech
movements for the formation of Czechoslovakia or at the very least support for the “Slovak
Brothers” in one way or another but none of these movements by the end of the 19th
century were prevalent in the Czech mindset, being vastly overshadowed by the Czech fear
of Germanification, which spurred up the Czech nationalistc movement campaigning for equal
rights and self autonomy. Because if Czechs had the means to administer
their own lands they would no longer have to fear and could even counteract Germanification. But even though this idea was almost universal
amongst all Czech political parties they disagreed on how to tackle it. Nonetheless by far the most prominent movement
was best described by Karel Kramář a Czech politician, “The lands of the Bohemian crown,
formed an undivided and indivisible whole, completely independent and autonomous vis-a-vis
the other lands of their King“ hence advocating for remaining within the Empire while gaining
the autonomy like Hungary had. And in fact by the end of the 19th century
many Czechs didn’t want to succeed from the Empire, they just wanted more autonomy. Swithcing from the Czechs to Slovaks now,
the most prominent and infact the only faction to see some succes in Slovak circles was the
nationalistic party. By the late 19th and early 20th century it
had a newspaper based from Martin called Národnie noviny which was edited by Vajanský. This party as its name suggests was very much
nationalistic with some members bordering on what we would today call fascism. Its agenda early on centered around the full
succession from the Empire and the creation of independent Slovakia. On top of that, the party was known for its
Russophilia, anti-westernism, antisemitism and agrarianism. After seeing no political success and very
strong suppression by the Hungarians the nationalistc party became less radical going in to the
20th century. Abandoning the idea of full succession of
Slovakia and campaigning for universal suffrage and equal rights for Slovaks within the Empire. However anti westernism, anti semitism and
Russophilia still remained strong with the more right leaning members of the party. Also the idea of a Czechoslovakian state was
very much a moot point with in the nationalistic circles not gaining any traction. And it is this political state that disgruntled
young Slovaks found themselves around the turn of the century. With the only prominent political party being
very conservative and the Czechs pretty much minding their own business giving the Slovaks
a thumbs up of encouragement across the Morava. But, this is all just one side of the story
and it is time to turn to the other side, which largely revolves around one man, known
today as taticek Masaryk. Tomas Masaryk was born in a small town of
Hodonin right on the border between Czechia and Slovakia, when he was 6 his family moved
to a neighboring town of Cejkovice. His father was a Slovak farmer and his mother
a Germanized Moravian. Masaryk grew up speaking a zahoracky dialect
of Slovak but at an early age also learned German and Czech from his mother. He wasn’t particularly fond of manual labor
jobs preferring academia above all, for example as a teenager he taught himself Latin and
Ancient Greek just so he could read the original classical texts. He was also at the top of his class at a gymnazium
in Brno and later Vienna, while there he also learned French, Russian, Polish and English,
and earned a bit of money by translating documents from those languages to German or Czech. Interestingly, while he was at gymnazium,
when he turned 16 he “joined a number of young hotheads, who sallied forth to fight
for their country” in the Austro Prussian War also known in Germany as the Unification
War. He got injured during the war and recovered
in Bratislava before finishing up his gymnazium, after which he continued pursuing his passion
for academia enrolling at the University of Vienna from which he got his eventual doctorate
in 1876. During this entire time Masaryk wasn’t involved
much in politics and even though he himself admitted to be a sympathiser for Czech and
Slovak autonomy, outside of joining a small Slovak and Czech student unions in Vienna
he never actively did anything. Instead, he was fully immersed in his studies
of philosophy, history, psychology, etc. But that all changed in 1881/2 when he got
a post as a philosophy professor at Charles University. It was in Prague that he was very much thrown
on to the Czech political stage through the academic connections he made there, all of
whom were already involved in politics. His early political life and ascendance is
quite complicated but the main event that can be pointed to is the Hilsner Case. The Hilsner Case was a series of trials against
a jewish peddler, for commiting a ritual murder of a young Czech girl. The evidence against him was laughable and
only situated on the unlikeability of his character and the fact that he was jewish. However most of the Czech politics at the
time involved anti semitism and much of the public wanted to see someone face some repercussions. Masaryk however, even though stating he wasn’t
very fond of Hilsner. Decided to seemingly go against almost all
politicians and the public opinion, because in his eyes this “monstrous non-legality”
could not stand in a just nation. With Masaryk’s help Hilsner was still convicted
but instead of being executed was given life imprisonment. During this nation wide incident Masaryk was
shown to the entire population as a honorous man and fighter for justice. His idea of an “unpleasant truth is preferable
to a beneficial lie” became one of his core political beliefs and he went on to find a
new Political Czech party called the Realists in 1900. This party was meant to replace the current
Young Czech Party that Masaryk viewed as pandering to the Empire just as well as to the Czech
people, resulting in nothing being done. The Realist party was very liberal for it’s
time, equating for full equality of women in the workplace, universal suffrage, freedom
of speech, etc. Also unlike the Czech parties up until now,
it actively worked with other Slavic parties in Austria-Hungary, including Croats, Serbs,
Slovaks, etc. At the same time, Masaryk also helped coordinate
a small number of Slovak intellectuals studying in Czechia, to find a new political movement
against the conesrvative Slovak Nationalists. These people founded the newspaper ‘Hlas’
that focused around social democratic ideas and became a prominent counter to the Nationalistic
party. As the great war was drawing nigh almost none
of the major Czech or Slovak politicians, including Masaryk, propagated, at least officially,
any idea of succession from the Empire. Instead they all supported the proposed federalist
state of Austria-Hungary which was also supported by Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It also has to be noted that outside of a
small minority, like the group Českoslovanská jednota, the idea of a Czechslovak state was
never proposed on any major political level. Even Masaryk, though his actions and rhetoric
in the early 19th century where very much so heading towards a unified Czechoslovakia,
never actually publicly stated he wanted a Czechoslovak union until 1907. Most scholars today believe it was his plan
all along to unify the Czechs and Slovaks, a people who he called ‘co-nationals’,
he just wanted to sture up more political support for such a move before declaring it
officially. And reading his lecture notes I think this
becomes very clear. Nonetheless, whatever the political agenda
and views both sides had, when it became clear that the Great War was inevitable, the Czechs
and Slovaks started to view a mutual cooperation as the best chance towards an independent
and strong country. And just like that, Masaryk who was working
towards a unified Czechoslovak state for decades now, became the center point of the Czechoslovak
independence movement during the war. At the start of the war Masaryk viewed the
German and Austrian mobilization and he had this to say. “I could not help feeling impressed by the
purposeful [German] discipline and the preparedness to the last button. Throughout the mobilization I did not see
a single drunken German, whereas the contingents of Austrian recruits on their way home to
join [the war,] were, for the most part, helplessly intoxicated.” No real point from this quote, I just thought
it was funny. However two quotes do summarize Masaryk’s
life for the next 4 years quite well. Saenger a man who meat Masaryk at the beginning
of the war said this. “The impression which Masaryk produced on
me was extraordinary. He was entirely taken up with one single idea
… this man, who was an Austrian against his will, was engrossed by the question whether
the historical moment had come when the Empire was to be split up into its national ingredients.” During this time Masaryk also meat with Professor
Seton-Watson with whom he created the Memorandum for Central Europe. Watson later said this about that. “The programme which Masaryk placed before
me at that secret meeting in a hotel Rotterdam in October, 1914, was fulfilled almost to
the letter in October, 1918.” So Masaryk had a plan, and he had the will
to execute it. Therefore the next 4 years Masaryk took the
initiative, almost single handedly getting diplomatic support for the creation of Czechoslovakia
across the world. He traveled to
Rotterdam 1914 Geneva 1915
Paris 1915-1917 London 1915-1917
Petrograd Moscow
Kiev Vladivostok
Tokyo Chicago
Washington New York
London Paris
And in 1918 Prague Masaryk was the one to organize the Czechoslovak
legion in Russia and later he was the one to negotiate safe passage of this legion across
Russia. He also had time to be one of the founders
of the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London and many other things we
don’t have time to talk about. However it wasn’t all smooth sailing for
gaining diplomatic support for the creation of Czechoslovakia. The most prominent opposition coming from
the British, who didn’t want to break up the Austro-Hungarian Empire, especially not
at the start of the War. America on the other hand proved to be the
most enthusiastic allie of Masaryk and his cause. When he arrived to Chicago, he was joyfully
greeted by 150 thousands people, most of which where of Czechoslovak Origin. Eventually thanks to Masaryk unrelentless
diplomatic work, a new nation was founded, a Czechoslovak nation. Unsurprisingly, Masaryk was elected as the first president of Czechoslovakia,
and a new chapter not just in Masaryk’s life but in Czechoslovak history began. A chapter that until 1938, had a lot of its
own problems, but that’s a story for another time. This video is part of a greater Project Homecoming,
where for the holidays a bunch of History YouTubers are talking about the history of
where they live or where they’re from. Since I am from Slovakia, I talked about the
formation of Czechoslovakia. If you want to see other history youtubers’
videos, click the link to the playlist on the screen or in the description. My name is M. Laser and see you next time.

84 Comments on "Making of a State: Czechoslovakia"


  1. i just say no-one calls TGM Taticek( Dear Father) Masaryk- last person i know who really unironically or outside historical context of 1st republic called him like that was my grandma and she died over a 30yrs ago.
    PS Czechoslovak idea been largely foreign( American etc due large influence of Czech and Slovak emigrants and their finances) idea and way to boost Czech claims( and prevent this nonsensical division of territory based on current ethnical lines which was American policy of that time) against Czech Gemans who were more numerous than Slovaks and actual Czech and Slovak ppl been in fact basically just informed about the new state they'll live in when Austria lost the war and foreign- based Czechoslovak legions and newly formed mostly exile govt was on the winning side- Czechs then happily internalised the idea unlike Slovaks who till the very end never really adopted it as their own.

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  2. I am the senate! -the literal crown of Saint Stephen (The 'joke' is that the lands of Hungary and everything in them were owned by the actual crown which the kings had to swear upon/legitimize themselves with.)

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  3. Really usefull thanks, I'm gonna to spend a couple of days following the New Year in Bratislava with my italian friends. I really hope I can meet you there by chance ahah

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  4. No to mě poser, sleduji tě už dlouho (kolem jednoho roku). Vždycky jsem si myslel, (Sám nevím proč) že jsi někde z bývalé Yugoslávie, měl jsem jen takový pocit že jsi nějaký slovan, protože děláš hodně videí z Východo Evropské historie. Ale že jsi Slovák mě dostalo. Když jsem koukal na tohle video tak jsem si říkal, jak jen si sehnal tolik kvalitních a dobrých informací o Masarykovi, i přes to že na dostání těch informací používáš Angličtinu, teď když už vím že jsi Slovák tak mi to došlo. Taky jsem se na 100 výročí vzniku ČeskoSlovenska snažil udělat životopis TGM, ale kvůli časovým důvodům jsem to nikdy nedokončil. Ale musím říct, když jsem viděl tohle, tak by to co by jsem já udělal by se nemohlo rovnat s tebou, jak po stránce grafiky tak po informační. Přečetl jsem asi 5 různých životopisů TGM, a další materiály, ale i přes to některé informace co jsi tady měl jsem nikdy neslyšel. Jde vidět že už jsi velice dobrý v hledání informací pro tvé videa a to že to dokážeš tak solidně dát dohromady je velmi obdivuhodné. Tím chci říct, že velmi obdivuji tvojí tvorbu a vím že máš potenciál, takže se drž toho co děláš a věřím, že jednou tvůj kanál “Vybouchne“ a dostaneš se do povědomí více lidí.
    Omlouvám se že to píší Česky, ale však na vyjádření toho co jsem zamýšlel jsem raději zvolil svůj mateřský jazyk, kterému jistě rozumíš.

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  5. There is a small mistake. The boders of the Kingdom of Hungary that youve shown are incorrect. Your border is post 1920 Czechoslovak border, but the Kingdom of Hungary included northern Spiš and Orava counties which were ceded to Poland by Czechoslovakia and then, they were also part of the Slovak Republic in 1939-1945. Otherwise great video!

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  6. I've been with you since like 170 subs or so and I'm so proud to see you at pretty much 50k ❤️ Happy Holidays dude ^-^!

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  7. Too bad that "great" Masaryk backstabbed Poles during their fight with Soviets and invaded Śląsk in 1919, while Poland fought for its independence.

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  8. Yes, with this man’s help, millions of Germans and Hungarians were deprived in connection to their ethnic homeland government and were subject to unbased reprisal violence and oppression

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  9. It might be interesting to the English-speaking viewers that in Czech the word for Bohemia is "Čechy". Czechia as a whole is "Česko" and the adjective "český" means both "Czech" and "Bohemian". In Polish, both Bohemia and Czechia are simply called "Czechy". So depending on the language, there is more sense of the continuity between the historical Kindom and the modern Republic.

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  10. Another nice video as allways!
    Have merry Christmas
    I am a Hungarian from Slovakia
    Veselé Vianoce
    Boldog Karácsonyt

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  11. Highest quality, well done. Thankfully now we all work together in V4, EU and NATO. Wish you all the best from Hungary!

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  12. Hey! Thanks a lot for the great vid. You won't find a lot of content of THIS quality about East Europe region =)
    One question: why did you omit the fact that mid-wars Czechoslovakia was comprised of 3 ethnical regions (Czechia, Slovakia, Ruthenia)?

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  13. Extrémek , říkal jsme si jak je možný že někdo z anglicky mluvící země dokáže udělat takhle super video ,takhle fakt dobrý video. Super fakt super. Gratulace veliká.

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  14. Som si pôvodne myslel že si z Rakúska ale toto video ma prijemne prekvapilo. Btw tvoj kanal som objavil vtedy ked som musel opravit jedneho mojho kotlebovskeho kamarata ohladom historie.

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  15. Good overview considering its brevity. Of all the facts, for me the most intriguing were maps at 1:29 and 12:26: Pulling together Czechs and Slovaks alone would not result in Czechoslovakia in its 1918 borders (actually defined later due to skirmishes over territories with neighbors). I get the historic Lands of the Bohemian Crown. But Slovakia and Ruthenia? How were those borders established?

    One should put formation of Czechoslovakia into a broader context of what was happening following the demise of all three major continental empires – German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian in 1917-18. WWI ended all right, but not the local wars in the eastern half of Europe that went on and on for several more years. For this broader context, I would recommend Indy Neidell’s TimeGhost History series on YouTube, especially Between 2 Wars subset. Eastern Europe was a real mess!

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  16. Good video, but you shoud talk more about Štefánik and Beneš too. For example štefánik knew a lot of important people in France and iit was a huge deal because france was a major pover. Also it was work of all three that Czechoslovakia formed if it would be Masaryk only it would never happend. Overall nice video but for next time talk more about them too

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  17. Good exposé on this topic, I think. But at 11:53, "unrelentless …." Really? Relentless, or unrelenting, not "unrelentless".

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  18. Vyborne video, len mi tam chyba nieco viac o Stefanikovi a vobec tam neni spomenute Rusinske hnutie ktore spolupracovalo z Ceskym a Slovenskym hnutim na novom state. A nieje tam spomenuty Grigorij Zatkovic

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  19. One of the biggest problem in Czech Republic is that we do not have any clear heritage. We have Slavic language but our ancestors are the Celts, Romans, Germanic people, Frank people, Slavs and even the Norsemen. So our national identity is a little bit chaotic because there is nothing like a pure Czech.

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  20. After the war, why didn’t the Czechs accept Blessed Karl as their king? Or did they? 🤔 all I know is Austria and Hungary rejected his rightful rule.

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  21. austro-prussian war of 1866 is knows as the brother's war, not the unification war. the unification war was 1871 against france.

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  22. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk -> one thing to pick on, Gymnázium = grammar school. The way you interpreted it implicates that He was doing gymnastics that had taught him foreign languages. A mental gymnastics 😀 (which in a hindsight is really what you do in a grammar school).

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  23. Gymnasium je anglicky tělocvična. Jiný význam to slovo nemá. Správně je anglicky gymnázium Grammar school nebo tak nějak.

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  24. Another Video 100% wasn't in my inbox 🙁

    It makes me upset because this is some of my favorite content on YouTube. I have to check your channel every couple weeks to make sure YouTube isn't broken again. Keep up the Great work

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  25. Brilliant. Do you have any reference on the Masaryk's injury in the Austro-Prussian war? I never heard about it and cannot find any info.

    Reply

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