Czech History

500 - 1306: The Great Moravian Empire and the Přemyslid Dynasty
1310 - 1378: John of Luxembourg and Charles IV
1415 - 1526: The Hussite Era and George of Poděbrady
1526 - 1790: The Habsburg Dynasty to Joseph II
1790 - 1914: National Revival to World War I
1918 - 1945: The First Republic and World War II
1945 - 1989: The Communist Era
1989 - present: Velvet Revolution and Beyond

The First Republic and World War II

With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I, the Czech lands and Slovakia jointly proclaimed the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918. Prague became the capital of the country and the Prague Castle became the seat of the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The time between WWI and WWII is now called "the First Republic". Czechoslovakia had a parliamentary democracy, concentrated 70% of the industry of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, and had an economy that was among the strongest in the world. Prague became close to Paris then, as is exemplified by the great Czech-French art-nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha.

In the mid-1930s, the German inhabitants of the Czech border areas called the Sudetenland began calling for autonomy. Masaryk resigned from his post of president in 1935 due to illness and was replaced by Edvard Beneš. In September 1938, Germany, Britain, France and Italy signed the Munich Pact, giving Hitler the right to invade and claim Czechoslovakia's border areas, despite the fact that France had a treaty with Czechoslovakia promising help in the event of military aggression. O nás bez nás (about us, without us) has become a phrase bitterly remembered by all Czechs. On March 15, 1939, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Hitler's army. The border territories were seized by Germany and the rest of the country was occupied by Nazi Germany until the end of World War II in 1945. The end of the war came with the Prague Uprising on May 5, 1945 and the subsequent liberation of Prague by the Soviet Red Army on May 9. The western territories of the Czech Republic, including Plzeň, were liberated by the American army lead by General Patton.

Related books on

- Talks With T.G. Masaryk
- The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich: The SS 'Butcher of Prague'
- Schindler's Legacy: True Stories of the List Survivors

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