World War I.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the international suspense was heightening. The spark which kindled the fire of war was the assassination of the Austrian crown prince Franz Ferdinand d’Este and his wife in Sarajevo. After Serbia had rejected the humiliating ultimatum, it declared war on the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Due to a system of alliance treaties, the whole Europe found itself in war within literally a few days.


The Czechoslovak resistance abroad was given its definite form and a firm organizational structure by three men, whose fates intertwined inseparably at the turn of 1915/1916: Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Štefánik. The first political body of the resistance movement abroad became the Czech Foreign Committee, whose proclamation in November 1915 spoke of the common endeavor to build up an independent state.From February 1916 the Czechoslovak National Committee was being established in Paris as a real central body of the resistance with gradually added divisions in Russia, Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland and in the USA. The objective was to win crucial official circles as well as the public of the states of Treaty in order to instill the idea of breaking up the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and establishing an independent Czechoslovak state. Principally, the activities were aimed at promotion and diplomatic influence on the governments of the states of Treaty and on the democratic public worldwide. Two examples of these activities were Masaryk’s trip to Russia or the organization of the Czech Day in Rome.  The triumphs of the legions in Russia as well as their successful service in the Italian and French front convinced the holders of power in the West that it was right to recognize the Czechoslovak army as an alliance and the National Committee, which supervised it on the political level, as the core of the Czechoslovakia-to-be. The Committee was proclaimed a provisional government on June 29th by France, on August 9th by Great Britain and on September 2nd by the U.S. On the 14th October 1918 that action enabled the National Committee to transform into a temporary Czechoslovak government operating abroad. An independent state was declared by political leaders at home after massive manifestations in Prague and other cities on October 28th 1918.

Shaping foreign resistance