By Andrea Orzoff

After global conflict I, diplomats and leaders on the Paris Peace Talks redrew the map of Europe, carving up old empires and remodeling Europe's japanese part into new realms. Drawing seriously at the prior, the leaders of those younger international locations crafted nationwide mythologies and deployed them at domestic and out of the country. locally, myths have been a device for legitimating the recent nation with fractious electorates. In nice strength capitals, they have been used to curry prefer and to compete with the mythologies and propaganda of different insecure postwar states. the recent postwar nation of Czechoslovakia cast a name as Europe's democratic outpost within the East, an island of enlightened tolerance amid an more and more fascist primary and jap Europe. In conflict for the citadel, Andrea Orzoff strains the parable of Czechoslovakia as an incredible 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 turned Czechoslovakia's first president, and Edvard Benes, its longtime overseas minister and later president, propagated the assumption of the Czechs as a tolerant, wealthy, and cosmopolitan humans, dedicated to ecu 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 an off-the-cuff political association referred to as the Hrad or "Castle." This robust coalition of intellectuals, newshounds, businessmen, spiritual leaders, and nice warfare veterans struggled with Parliamentary leaders to set the country's political time table and boost the parable. overseas, the citadel wielded the nationwide fable to assert the eye and safeguard of the West opposed to its more and more hungry associates. while Hitler occupied the rustic, the mythic Czechoslovakia won strength as its leaders went into wartime exile. as soon as Czechoslovakia regained its independence after 1945, the fort delusion reappeared. After the Communist coup of 1948, many fort politicians went into exile in the US, the place they wrote the citadel fantasy of an idealized Czechoslovakia into educational and political discourse. conflict for the fortress demonstrates how this founding delusion turned enshrined in Czechoslovak and ecu heritage. It powerfully articulates the centrality of propaganda and the mass media to interwar ecu cultural international relations and politics, and the annoying, combative surroundings of ecu diplomacy from the start of the 1st international battle way past the top of the second one.

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Additional info for Battle for the Castle: The Myth of Czechoslovakia in Europe, 1914-1948

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But it did not constitute an automatic trumping of other Czech politicians, either philosophically or in terms of direct power. The claims that Czech national values meant automatic adherence to the ideals and politics of the Western Great Powers, or that Masaryk and Beneš deserved credit as the founders of the new state, aroused considerable dissent in 1918 and afterward. Bookish Radicals Unlike Beneš, Tomáš Masaryk already possessed authority and a considerable reputation by 1914. But almost no one would have predicted that his influence would ever transcend the printed page.

The war shifted the terms of this conversation. Certain nationalist themes or emphases suddenly became more plausible, others less significant or even, briefly, ridiculous. For example, the Bolshevik Revolution put paid to the fantasy of a European Slavic federation ruled by Romanovs. Also, wartime activity would legitimate, or discredit, postwar leadership. In Czechoslovakia as elsewhere in Europe, the ideas and experiences of the First World War influenced political and cultural elites and their actions for the next twenty years.

The postwar Czechoslovak Communists were the largest party in Czech history, and drew a substantial plurality of votes in the 1946 elections. 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.

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