Sunday, September 4, 2022

Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile

The second President of Czechoslovakia was Edvard Beneš.  Following the 1938 Munich Agreement, he resigned from office bringing an end to the First Republic.  He went to the USA and became a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.  After a few months he returned to Europe to organise a government-in-exile.

While in Paris he formed the Czechoslovak National Liberation Committee, Výbor Československého Národního Osvobození, in October 1939.  Since Slovakia split from Czechoslovakia to become a Nazi puppet state, France had a problem with the committee representing all of Czechoslovakia.  The impending Nazi occupation of France probably didn't help so the committee moved to London in 1940.

The committee gained British recognition as the Provisional Government of Czechoslovakia, Prozatímní vláda Československa, which was basically the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile, and it gained international recognition by other Allied governments. 

While all of this was going on, following the annexation of the Sudetenland, Emil Hácha was President of the Second Czechoslovak Republic which what was left of Czechoslovakia after it was carved up.  This lasted until 15 March 1939 and then he became the state president of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

Jan Šrámek

With Beneš as the President and Jan Šrámek as Prime Minister, the worked to return Czechoslovakia to its 1937 borders which was a big goal considering the country had been basically wiped from the map.  The. government-in-exile also tried to assist Czechoslovak Jews.

In 1941, there was pressure from the Allies for the Czechs to play a greater role in the resistance, especially in the Protectorate.  In late September 1941, Reinhard Heydrich launched a major crackdown on the resistance when he took over as Reichsprotektor.   

After almost six months of planning, Operation Anthropoid went into action.  Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík went to Prague and assassinated Heydrich.

Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík

At Porchester Gate in London, there's a plaque marking where the Czech government-in-exile was based in the UK, and this is where the assassination was planned.  I guess I need to go find the plaque the next time I'm back in London.

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