Important days

4. 11. 2009

National Holiday 28th October

At the end of October 1918 long-standing efforts of the Czech political representation and the Czech nation as a whole were crowned and the independent state was established. Nowadays we memorialize the day of declaration of Czechoslovakia as a national holiday.


Destroying symbols of the Habsburg EmpireIn the course of autumn 1918 the end of the World War one was drawing near; it was a terrible conflict which irrecoverably marked Europe and influenced lives of million people. Austria- Hungary, not loved but weathering state by Czech people, in which number of other nations of central and Eastern Europe were living, was at the end of its tether. The way to independence, about which they had not dreamed of, became open to national entities. The Czech political representation concentrated in the national Committee was preparing for gaining independence, nevertheless it had not expected so fast breakdown of the monarchy, which took place at the end of October 1918. It can be documented by the fact that some leading representatives of the national Committee were not present in Prague then as they left, upon a permission of the Austria-Hungarian government, to Geneva where they intended to meet representatives of the exile political representation.

T. G. MasarykNot even exile representatives concentrated round subsequent president T.G. Masaryk did not expected such a fast end of the war. Edvard Beneš expected the end of the conflict as late as in spring 1919 when the will of states of so-called Triple Entente supported by American troops on the west front was expected to prevail. In spite of this fact the exile representatives made number of steps to markedly strengthen the position of exile organs; these steps resulted in acknowledgement of the Czechoslovak National Council, supreme organ of the national revolt, as a future Czechoslovak government from the side of the individual Triple Entente powers in the course of 1918. An imaginary full stop that followed these efforts, was the proclamation of so-called Washington Declaration on 18 October 1918, in which T.G. Masaryk declared in the name of the interim government the future Czechoslovak state including its basic principles.

Wenceslas square 28th October 1918As it has been mentioned, at the end of October 1918 part of leading political representatives was not present in Prague. Those who had not left for Geneva used the mood of the population which understood the publication of the Andrássy Note as the end of the monarchy. In fact, the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gula Adrássy only asked the American president for starting peace negotiations based on preliminary formulated conditions. However among those conditions there was also a point which concerned the right of nations for self-determination. People gathered in streets and spontaneous removal of monarchy symbols began. The group of five significant politicians, later known as so-called "men of October" – Antonín Švehla, František Soukup, Jiří Stříbrný, Alois rašín a Vavro Šrobár started to negotiate with the Austrian authorities. One of the most important acts was the take-over of the control over the Corn Office in Prague which was in charge of supplying Czech countries with foodstuff. Its distribution was one of the most burning problems and therefore the control over this office gave a great power to the men of October. Al the efforts were crowned by adoption of the first law of the independent state, in which there was declared that the Czechoslovak state came true.

Karel KramarIn the days that followed the news on the establishment of the state was disseminated outside of Prague. Despite having no inkling on Prague events, representatives of the Slovak nation stood up for the future Czechoslovakia at the gathering in Turčianský Svätý Martin on 30 October 1918. The foundation of the state was definitely crowned after the arrival of the delegation from Switzerland. At the meeting of the National Committee on 13 November 1918 the interim constitution was adopted and the first government of the Czechoslovak Republic headed by Karel Kramář was appointed. T.G. Masaryk was unanimously elected as the first President.

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