Eduard Benes

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Beneš, Eduard

 

Bora May 28, 1884, in Kozlany, Bohemia; died Sept. 3, 1948, in Sezimovo Ústí, Bohemia. Czechoslovak statesman. Son of a wealthy peasant.

Beneš studied at Charles University in Prague and later at the Sorbonne in Paris. He graduated from the faculty of law at the University of Dijon in France. From 1915 to 1918 he was general secretary of the Czechoslovak National Council, founded by Czech bourgeois émigrés in Paris. On Sept. 26, 1918, this body became the provisional government of Czechoslovakia. From September 1918 to December 1935, Bene was the foreign minister of Czechoslovakia; from September 1921 to October 1922 he was the prime minister; and from December 1935 to October 1938 he was the president of the country. He was one of the active leaders of the Little Entente. Beneŝ was a member of the Council of the League of Nations from 1923 to 1927 and chairman of the Security Committee from 1927 to 1938. He was one of those chiefly responsible for the Czechoslovak republic’s refusal of military aid offered by the Soviet Union against the threat of Hitler’s aggression and for the acceptance by the Czechoslovak government of the terms of the Munich Pact of 1938.

In October 1938, Beneŝ retired from the office of president and went to the United States, where he became a professor at the University of Chicago. In 1939 a Czechoslovak national committee was founded in Paris under the leadership of Beneŝ, and in 1940 this committee became the basis for the founding in London of a Czechoslovak government and state council in exile. Beneŝ once again became president of the republic. The exiled Czechoslovak government was recognized by the states participating in the anti-Hitler coalition. In Moscow in December 1943, Beneŝ signed the Soviet-Czechoslovak Pact of Friendship, Mutual Assistance, and Postwar Cooperation. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia, Beneŝ was officially elected president of the republic on June 19, 1946. In February 1948, underpressure from the people, Bene ŝ was forced to accept the resignation of the reactionary ministers and to accept the new government proposed by K. Gottwald. On June 7, 1948, Bene ŝ resigned as president.

WORKS

Svétová válka a nase revoluce, [parts 1–3]. Prague, 1935.
Pameéti. Prague, 1947.

REFERENCE

Kral’, V. O kontrrevoliutsionnoi i antisovetskoi politike Masarika i Benesha. Moscow, 1955.

A. I. NEDOREZOV