The Czechoslovak State came into existence on 28 Oct. 1918 after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary. Two days later the Slovak National Council declared its wish to unite with the Czechs. The Treaty of St Germain-en-Laye (1919) recognized the Czechoslovak Republic, consisting of the Czech lands (Bohemia, Moravia, part of Silesia) and Slovakia. In March 1939 the German-sponsored Slovak government proclaimed Slovakia independent and Germany incorporated the Czech lands into the Reich as the ‘Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia’. A government-in-exile, headed by Dr Edvard Beneš, was set up in London. Liberation by the Soviet Army and US Forces was completed by May 1945. Territories taken by the Germans, Poles and Hungarians were restored to Czechoslovak sovereignty. Elections were held in May 1946 following which a coalition government under a Communist Prime Minister, Klement Gottwald, remained in power until 20 Feb. 1948, when 12 of the non-Communist ministers resigned in protest against infiltration of Communists into the police. In Feb. a predominantly Communist government was formed by Gottwald. In May 1948 elections resulted in an 89% majority for the government and President Beneš resigned.
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