Cover image for Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler : the diplomacy of Edvard Beneš in the 1930s
Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler : the diplomacy of Edvard Beneš in the 1930s
Lukes, Igor.
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Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.
Physical Description:
xii, 318 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1450 Lexile.
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DB2078.G3 L85 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Munich crisis of 1938, in which Great Britain and France decided to appease Hitler's demands to annex the Sudentenland, has provoked a vast amount of historical writing. But historians have had, until now, only a vague understanding of the roles played by the Soviet Union and byCzechoslovakia, the country whose very existence was at the center of the crisis.In Czechoslovakia Between Stalin and Hitler, Igor Lukes explores this turbulent and tragic era from the new perspective of the Prague government itself. At the center of this study is Edvard Benes, a Czechoslovak foreign policy strategist and a major player in the political machinations of the era.The work analyzes the Prague Government's attempts to secure the existence of the Republic of Czechoslovakia in the treacherous space between the millstones of the East and West. It studies Benes's relationship with Joseph Stalin, outlines the role assigned to Czechoslovak communists by the VIIthCongress of the Communist International in 1935, and dissects Prague's secret negotiations with Berlin and Benes's role in the famous Tukhachevsky affair. Using secret archives in both Prague and Russia, this work is an accurate and original rendition of the events that sparked the Second WorldWar.

Author Notes

Igor Lukes is University Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University and a Fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Using unpublished archival materials in Prague and a broad range of other sources, this impressive scholarly study examines the course of Czechoslovakia's foreign policy under Foreign Minister (and later President) Edvard Benes during the 1930s. Previous scholars have traced other aspects of the European crisis of this period as it affected Czechoslovakia, but Lukes successfully treats the matter from the Czechoslovak and, to a lesser extent, Soviet perspective. Lukes (Boston Univ.) shows how Benes carefully measured the interests of Germany and the Soviets, whom the Paris Peace Settlements of 1919 had tried to exclude from active participation in the European political scene. He also analyzes how Benes used the Soviets as a counterbalance to the Nazis after 1933, and reveals a political and diplomatic leader in the Munich crisis who "lacked neither courage nor the capacity for greatness." The insights of this extensively documented work are numerous and cast new and important light on diplomatic and political events of the period, particularly Soviet developments and policy toward Czechoslovakia. The two dozen well-chosen illustrations complement the well-written and clearly argued text of the book and its extensive bibliography. All levels. P. W. Knoll University of Southern California

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. xiii
1 Czechoslovak-Soviet Contacts from the End of World War I to Adolf Hitler's Machtergreifung, 1918-1933p. 3
The Hillerson Red Cross Mission in Praguep. 7
Prague's Attitude toward the Bolsheviksp. 11
From Diplomacy to Confrontationp. 18
2 Dangerous Relations: Benes and Stalin in Hitler's Shadow, 1933-1935p. 33
At Last: De Jure Recognition and Its Consequencesp. 36
Benes's Ostpolitikp. 40
The Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty of 1935 and Its Mysterious Stipulationp. 44
Prague's Pact with Moscowp. 50
The Aftermath of Czechoslovakia's Agreement with the Soviet Unionp. 51
Stalin's Wooing of Edvard Benes: The 1935 Trip to Moscowp. 52
Stalin Was "Gracious, Thoughtful, Accommodating,"p. 55
3 Between the Agile East and the Apathetic West: Central Europe, 1935-1937p. 67
The CPC and the 7th Congress of the Cominternp. 68
Czechoslovakia and the Frigid Westp. 79
"Lord Halalifax,"p. 81
4 Benes and the Tukhachevsky Affair: New Evidence from the Archives in Prague and Moscowp. 91
Znamia Rossii and Other Tremors before the Earthquakep. 92
Tukhachevsky and the Secret Negotiations between Prague and Berlinp. 96
President Edvard Benes and the Tukhachevsky Affairp. 99
5 The Fateful Spring of 1938: Austrian Anschlu[beta] and the May Crisisp. 113
From the Death of Thomas G. Masaryk to New Year's Day 1938p. 116
The Anschlu[beta] of Austriap. 119
Czechoslovakia after the Anschlu[beta]p. 126
Moscow's Reaction to the Anschlu[beta]p. 130
Konrad Henlein's Eight Points: Demand the Impossiblep. 139
May Day 1938: Gottwald in Moscow, Henlein in the Sudetenlandp. 141
The Partial Mobilization of May 1938p. 143
The May Mobilization and Analysts of the Second Bureaup. 148
6 Lord Runciman and Comrade Zhdanov: Western and Soviet Policies Toward Czechoslovakia from June to Early September 1938p. 173
France: Firm Statements of Support on Shaky Foundationsp. 174
Great Britain Takes Chargep. 177
The British Intervention: Lord Runciman in Praguep. 179
The Three-Pronged Soviet Strategy from June to Early September 1938p. 190
7 September 1938p. 209
Hitler at Nuremberg and a State of Emergency in the Sudetenlandp. 209
Berchtesgaden: A Step to Munichp. 214
The Franco-British Proposalp. 218
Prague's Response to the Proposal and the Soviet Unionp. 223
The Franco-British Ultimatum and Its Consequencesp. 225
Godesberg: The Last Missed Opportunityp. 233
Folding the Flag: From the Sportpalast to Munichp. 242
The Yawning Affair at Munichp. 249
Agony in Praguep. 253
The Man Who Won at Munich: Stalin and the Four Power Actp. 256
The Victims of the Munich Agreementp. 260
Sources and Bibliographyp. 277
Indexp. 311