By Andrea Orzoff
After global battle I, diplomats and leaders on the Paris Peace Talks redrew the map of Europe, carving up historical empires and reworking Europe's jap part into new geographical regions. Drawing seriously at the earlier, the leaders of those younger international locations crafted nationwide mythologies and deployed them at domestic and overseas. regionally, myths have been a device for legitimating the recent country with fractious electorates. In nice strength capitals, they have been used to curry desire and to compete with the mythologies and propaganda of alternative insecure postwar states. the recent postwar country of Czechoslovakia solid a name as Europe's democratic outpost within the East, an island of enlightened tolerance amid an more and more fascist crucial and japanese Europe. In conflict for the citadel, Andrea Orzoff strains the parable of Czechoslovakia as a fantastic democracy. The architects of the parable have been lecturers who had fled Austria-Hungary within the nice War's early years. Tom?as Garrigue Masaryk, who grew to become Czechoslovakia's first president, and Edvard Benes, its longtime overseas minister and later president, propagated the belief of the Czechs as a tolerant, filthy rich, and cosmopolitan humans, dedicated to eu beliefs, and Czechoslovakia as a Western best friend in a position to containing either German aggression and Bolshevik radicalism. Deeply distrustful of Czech political events and Parliamentary leaders, Benes and Masaryk created a casual political association referred to as the Hrad or "Castle." This strong coalition of intellectuals, reporters, businessmen, non secular leaders, and nice warfare veterans struggled with Parliamentary leaders to set the country's political schedule and improve the parable. in a foreign country, the fortress wielded the nationwide fantasy to assert the eye and safety of the West opposed to its more and more hungry friends. whilst Hitler occupied the rustic, the mythic Czechoslovakia received strength as its leaders went into wartime exile. as soon as Czechoslovakia regained its independence after 1945, the citadel delusion reappeared. After the Communist coup of 1948, many fort politicians went into exile in the USA, the place they wrote the fort fable of an idealized Czechoslovakia into educational and political discourse. conflict for the citadel demonstrates how this founding delusion grew to become enshrined in Czechoslovak and ecu historical past. It powerfully articulates the centrality of propaganda and the mass media to interwar eu cultural international relations and politics, and the demanding, combative surroundings of eu diplomacy from the start of the 1st international battle way past the tip of the second one.
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Additional info for Battle for the Castle: The Myth of Czechoslovakia in Europe, 1914-1948
They ought to be joined with their fellow Slavs, the Slovaks, to lead an East European state that was dedicated to tolerance, egalitarianism, and human rights, and was capable of joining with the West. Not coincidentally, this same state, with Western support, might help withstand German aggression and contain Bolshevik social radicalism. The myth did not linger too long on the Germans in Bohemia and Moravia, or Hungarians in Slovakia. Nor did it pause to consider too deeply how Czechoslovakia might actually defend itself against a rearmed Germany or what it might mean for the West to have binding international commitments in Central and Eastern Europe.
But for opponents of the regime and émigrés, many of them former Castle staﬀers, the power of an idealized Czechoslovak democracy only gained strength in response to the horror of the Communist coup. The epilogue notes the continuing dominance of the Castle myth in the English-language academic writings of émigrés, expatriates, and allies, defending and mourning the Castle’s golden republic. The Castle’s ﬁnal mythographic triumph came about nostalgically, through the literary work of exile and underground historians, journalists, politicians, and the Westerners they taught or inﬂuenced.
Masaryk claimed to reject Palacký’s ideas even while relying on them, trying to link the ﬁfteenth-century Hussites to early twentiethcentury progressive liberalism, ethnic tolerance, and an ecumenical Christian spirituality. His attempt to practice a morally inﬂuential “unpolitical” politics within the Austrian imperial parliament, or Reichsrat, was inspired by those ideas as well. Masaryk’s and Beneš’s work abroad during the First World War, also described in chapter 1, presented their version of the Czech past, present, and future to a Great Power audience, via propaganda, cultural diplomacy, and the British, French, and American mass media.
Battle for the Castle: The Myth of Czechoslovakia in Europe, 1914-1948 by Andrea Orzoff