Jaroslav Rokoský - „A Small Country, but Ours“: The Czechoslovak Autumn of 1938

The study presents and analyses the period of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, contradictory and neglected by both Czech and European historiography. For Czech society, the Munich Agreement was a shock. What people have believed for twenty years and what they worked for self-sacrificingly was suddenly in ruins and questioned. For Masaryk’s republic, it was an economic, political, social and moral catastrophe. Weakened Czecho-Slovakia was in a difficult, desperate, even tragic situation. The belief in democracy was shaken, and the trust in the West was undermined. After its territorial losses, Czecho-Slovakia was left at the mercy of Hitler’s Germany. In a turbulent atmosphere, people looked for someone to blame. Attention is focused on the Sudetengau, which originated from the ceded borderlands, on the transformation of the relationship between the Czechs and the Slovaks, on the situation in Carpathian Ruthenia, as well as on considerable economic and social difficulties. At the forefront of interest is also the transformation of the political system, the operation and role of Syrový and Beran’s government, the election of President Hácha and the creation of authoritative democracy. A sad reality of that time is the awaken anti-Semitism that affected overall civil society, including elite professions. The Jews and Roma became second category citizens. The question remains to what extent Czecho-Slovakia only bowed to Berlin’s pressure, which intensified and strengthened, and to what extent it introduced its antidemocratic demands by itself. At the end of the fateful year 1938, the country lived in the shadow of the Nazi threat.