Three tilias, symbol of Czech and Slovak unity, Bratislava castle
Three tilias, symbol of Czech and Slovak unity, Bratislava castle

Czechoslovakism (Czech: Čechoslovakismus, Slovak: Čechoslovakizmus) is a concept which underlines reciprocity of the Czechs and the Slovaks. It is best known as an ideology which holds that there is one Czechoslovak nation, though it might also appear as a political program of two nations living in one common state. The climax of Czechoslovakism fell on 1918-1938, when as a one-nation-theory it became the official political doctrine of Czechoslovakia; its best known representative was Tomáš Masaryk.[1] Today Czechoslovakism as political concept or ideology is almost defunct; its remnant is a general sentiment of cultural affinity, present among many Czechs and Slovaks.


Bible of Kralice

Except some 70 years of Great Moravia in the early Medieval era, until the 20th century the peoples in the basins of Upper Elbe, Morava, Váh, Nitra and Hornad have never lived in a common state.[2] Throughout ages they were gradually developing various and not necessarily conflicting identities, like Czechs, Bohemians, Moravians, Slavs, Slovaks, Sloviaks, Czechoslavs, Hungaroslavs[3] and other, also hybrid concepts.[4] These identities might have been constructed along dynastic, ethnic, cultural, religious or territorial lines and might have been embraced by various groupings, from few intellectuals to large rural masses. The current which emphasised some sort of general commonality between Slavic people living West and East of the White Carpathians was based on language. In the late 16th century the Bible was first completely translated into Czech from original languages and its vernacular version came to be known as Bible of Kralice. In the early 17th century Bible kralická and its linguistic standard, later known as bibličtina, was accepted for religious use in Protestant Slavic communities both West and East of the White Carpathians.

In the late 18th century the Slavic Protestant circles centered in Preßburg went beyond the purely religious usage of bibličtina and elaborated on a broader concept of common culture, shared by all Czech-related people. In 1793 Juraj Ribay worked out Projekt ústavu alebo spoločnosti slovensko-českej medzi Slovákmi v Uhorsku,[5] a draft of educational institution to be based on Czech language; thanks to efforts of Bohuslav Tablic and Martin Hamaliar in 1803 the Preßburg Lyceum opened the chair “řeči a literatury československej”;[6] in the 1810s Juraj Palkovič started to publish Týdenník aneb Císařské královské Národní noviny, a weekly which advanced a common Czech-related cause;[7] in 1829 a number of scholars founded Společnost česko-slovanská, a cultural and education association which set branches also further East, e.g. in Késmárk and Lőcse;[8] some activists established a network of bookstores and tried to propagate Czech literature.[9] These initiatives did not exactly advocate a common Czech and Slovak cause; as the Slovak identity was at that time extremely vague, they rather tried to advance Czech as cultural model for Slavic people of Upper Hungary.

Jan Kollár

The current of building a common Slavic community centered upon Czech culture climaxed in mid-19th century thanks to activity of Jozef Šafárik and especially Jan Kollár, the latter graduate of the Preßburg Lyceum himself. A poet, scientist and politician, as ideologue he advanced the cause of Pan-Slavism. His monumental opus was written mostly in archaic Czech, though in the 1840s he tried to merge it with some Slovak features.[10] However, he was opposed from two different angles. The trend towards buildup of Slovak literary language, commenced by Bernolák mostly to counter Protestantism already in the late 18th century, diverted from religious issues and assumed a decisively national flavor; championed by Štúr, Hurban and Hodža it opposed a Czech-focused perspective.[11] On other hand, Prague-based representatives of purely Czech cultural vision like Jungmann or Palacký also considered Kollár's efforts harmful.[12] The result was that with death of Šafárik and Kollár the idea of Czech-based linguistic unity was gradually dying out.[13]



In the late 19th century the concept of Czech-focused affinity was reduced to general cultural sphere. Institutional outposts advocating a common cause were few, isolated and with limited impact. In 1882 the Slovak students in Prague set up Detvan, organisation which raised funds to send Slovaks to Czech gymnasia and to the Charles University in Prague;[14] in 1895 it evolved into Českoslovanská jednota.[15] Some one-off events, e.g. a 1895 Czech-Slavic ethnographic exhibition in Prague generated much interest, though they were not exactly focused on a joint Czech and Slovak cause. Among periodicals the key one was Hlas, established in 1892 in Szakolca; its contributors, led by Vavro Šrobár, came to be known as "Hlasici".[16] Another periodical, far less important, was Prúdy, since 1909 issued in Prague.[17] The level of social integration was marginal, with few hundred Slovak students in Prague and perhaps much lower number of Czechs in Preßburg. The rate of Czech-Slovak intermarriage was low, lower than the Czech-German and the Slovak-Hungarian one. There were no common Czecho-Slovak political parties, cultural, sporting, leisure or social organisations. However, a number of Czech prints, including high-quality periodicals, were fairly popular in Slovak-populated areas.

Except the 1848 proposal of Palacký[18] politicians on both sides did not go beyond the state borders when drafting their own designs. The Czechs focused on gaining some sort of political autonomy within Austria, usually intended for the provinces of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Their demands were based on historical arguments related to the so-called lands of the Czech crown; as Slovak-speaking territories had never been part of the concept, pointing to a common Czech-Slovak cause would have had ruined this logic.[19] The Slovaks struggled to cope with state-sponsored Magyarization and merely aimed to build an institutional network of cultural and education outposts within Hungary; with just 1 deputy in the Budapest parliament their chances to influence the official Hungarian politics were extremely slim. Until 1914 neither Czechs nor Slovaks have seriously advocated independence, let alone independence of a common state of both Czechs and Slovaks.[20]

Czechs and Slovaks in one color (light green) on ethnic map, 1880s.
Czechs and Slovaks in one color (light green) on ethnic map, 1880s.

Though the adjectives “Czechoslovak” or very rarely “Slovakoczech” were in circulation in both languages (usually standing for Czech type of Slav),[21] the term “Czechoslovakism” was not in use prior to 1914. When applied retroactively to the period, it could have denoted 4 various concepts of commonality: 1) that Slovaks form part of the Czech nation; 2) that Slovaks are somewhat distinct branch of the Czech people; 3) that Slovaks and Czechs are equal components of one Czecho-Slovak nation and 4) that Slovaks and Czechs are distinct nations united by common political interest.[22] It seems that most Czech-speakers tended to perceive Slovak-speakers within the first two perspectives; to them “Slovaks” were like “Moravians”, but even poorer and more backward. Slovak-speakers were far less advanced in terms of embracing a common identity; some regarded themselves as part of a Czechoslovak tribe of the Slav nation, some as Slovaks, some as Hungarian Slavs akin to Czechs; however, most of them had already some notion of Slovak individuality.[23]

Nascent ideology

Pittsburg Agreement plaque

In 1914 many Czech politicians left Austro-Hungary to advocate an independent Czech state; according to Masaryk, it would consist of the Austrian provinces of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia and Slovak-inhabited areas of Hungary.[24] The related documents referred to “the Czech nation”; the same perspective was present in other documents of Czech exiles, e.g. in a 1915 booklet Bohemia’s claim for freedom, issued by the Czech Committee in London.[25][26] A different approach was agreed between two US-based groups, Czech National Alliance and Slovak League; known as the Cleveland Agreement of October 1915, it opted for a common state of two separate nations; at one point it referred to a federation and at another to Slovak autonomy.[27] In early 1916 the Czech Foreign Committee in Paris, freshly joined by a Hlasici-related politician Milan Štefánik, renamed itself to Czechoslovak National Council,[28] though they kept speaking of the Czech nation.[29] In 1917-1918 the Council published a number of pamphlets, referring either to Czechoslovak or Czech nation.[30]

Back home politicians grouped in Czech Union declared their loyalty to the Habsburgs; in 1917 they advocated an entity within the empire which would unite “all branches of Czechoslovak people”.[31] In May 1918 a Diet of Czech Lands demanded independence for the Czech nation “and its Slovak branch”.[32] The Slovak national assembly in Liptószentmiklós of May 1918 demanded recognition of self-determination rights, including “the Hungarian branch of the Czechoslovak tribe”, but another assembly in Turócszentmárton spoke in name of the Slovak nation and openly supported independence within Czechoslovak statehood.[33] In May 1918 Slovak and Czech exile organisations signed Pittsburgh Agreement, approved by the Czechoslovak council in Paris; it opted for a Czechoslovak state, but mentioned Czech and Slovak nations separately [34] in the common state with common government.[35] In July a Czechoslovak National Committee was set up in Prague; the body advocated a Czech-Slovak state but referred either to the Czech or to the Czechoslovak nation.[36]

Czechoslovak declaration of independence, 1918

In September 1918 the US recognised the Paris council as a Czechoslovak government; in liaison with politicians in Prague, this body in name of the Czechoslovak nation declared independence of Czechoslovakia on October 28.[37] Unaware of this, two days later a Slovak assembly in Turócszentmárton formed a Slovak National Council; its declaration referred to “Czechoslovak nation”, “Slovak nation” as part of “the Czecho-Slovak nation” and “Slovak branch” of the Czech nation.[38] In November 1918 Czech deputies to the Vienna parliament formed National Czechoslovak Assembly,[39] which declared itself representative of “Czech nation”.[40] The Paris Council in liaison with the Prague Committee promulgated a provisional constitution and agreed on composition of the constituent National Assembly; 254 Czech seats were filled according to recent elections to the Austrian Reichsrat, while 55 Slovaks mostly hand-picked by Šrobár were co-opted later.[41]

Though prior to 1914 Czecho-Slovak political co-operation was close to non-existent, in the late 1910s both in Czech and Slovak political circles the idea of a common state emerged triumphant; there were no serious competitive projects based on a separate Czech or Slovak state. One theory holds that with the Habsburg Monarchy collapsing, Czechs and Slovaks realised they could politically take advantage of their cultural affinity. Another theory claims that the concept of common state was mostly anti-German and anti-Hungarian; the Czechs and the Slovaks realised that in their own nation-states they might not control sizeable and economically privileged minorities.[42]

Doctrine at work

Czechoslovak CoA (1920–1938)
Czechoslovak CoA (1920–1938)

The Czechoslovak state was defined in 1920 Constitution and other documents adopted by the National Assembly and then the first elected parliament; in the former body the Slovaks formed 18% and in the latter 15%.[43] The source of all power in the country was specified as “Czechoslovak nation” and indeed later official statistics consistently did not distinguish between Czechs and Slovaks; the official language was a “Czechoslovak language”. The coat of arms included combined Czech and Slovak symbols, but the latter in a secondary position;[44] the flag reproduced old Czech white-red pattern but with a blue wedge added.[45] The anthem combined the Czech Kde domov můj? and the Slovak Nad Tatrou sa blýska. The administrative system initially adopted was a unitary one; the country was not divided into federative components but into 23 administrative units,[46] though the government included the post of “Minister for Slovakia”. In 1928 Czechoslovakia was divided into 4 lands, with presidents and own representation.[47] Slovakia became one of them, for the first time in history its borders having been officially defined.[48]

Czechoslovakism advanced as ideology had slight Czech bias, visible e.g. in school textbooks,[49] and tended to promote a Czech vision, e.g. when discussing Hussitism. In terms of practice, in most integrated state institutions (e.g. railways, post, army) the prevailing if not the only language was Czech, but in local administration Slovak and Czech were used, officially as the same Czechoslovak language. Schools in respective territories were using Czech and Slovak; textbooks for them were also in Czech and in Slovak. Czechs clearly dominated among the political strata.[50] Slovakia was slightly under-represented in terms of number of seats assigned to the land in the parliament.[51] In central Czechoslovak administration Slovaks amounted to less than 2%.[52] In turn Czechs were over-represented – sometimes dramatically – in state-controlled jobs in Slovakia,[53] though it resulted from lack of sufficiently skilled Slovaks rather than from Czechization. Clear economic assessment had not been produced so far; however, scholars suggest that compared to her disproportionally small fiscal contribution[54] Slovakia was on the receiving end in terms of total state expenditures, even though they might not have been proportionate to Slovakia's population.[55]

Tomáš Masaryk

In political strata they key proponent of Czechoslovakism was Hrad, an informal group composed mostly of Czechs and related to president Masaryk; he was also the chief ideologue of Czechoslovakism.[56] It has been largely accepted as official state concept; most political parties either renamed themselves to “Czechoslovak”[57] or dropped any national references.[58] A Czech nationalism has not emerged; the Slovak one has gradually taken the shape of Slovak People's Party, known as "ľudáci". Under leadership of Andrej Hlinka it grew to the strongest party in Slovakia and was increasingly critical about the alleged Czech bias. The central government adopted a number of measures supposed to defuse Slovak discontent, like administrative reform of 1928, increased investments and personal policy, including the premiership of a Slovak, Milan Hodža. However, in the late 1930s ľudáci already demanded political autonomy, even though they declared full loyalty to Czechoslovak state as the only defence line against German and Hungarian revisionism.[59]


Andrej Hlinka

In the mid-1930s it was already visible that among the Slovak population Czechoslovakism – if ever genuinely popular – was in retreat.[60] Apart from Czech predominance resulting from their numerical superiority and economic strength, the supposed reason for this demise was also the ideology itself. It was visibly Czech-biased; moreover, Slovak nationalists were dismissed as Magyarones, traitors supportive of Magyarization,[61] a reference to 19th century theory which opposed buildup of Slovak language as an attempt first to separate Slovaks from Czechs and then to turn them into Hungarians. Some ľudák leaders were under police surveillance, some of their rallies were banned, their press tribunes were suspended for brief periods and few politicians were at times detained, though all measures were firmly based in constitutional order and they have never turned into state-sponsored systematic persecution.

Repeated ľudák's autonomy demands were accepted by the Czechoslovak parliament in November 1938, in wake of major European political turmoil caused by German territorial demands versus Czechoslovakia and when the southern belt of Slovakia was about to be handed over to Hungary. In aftermath of the Sudetenland crisis and fearing total break-up of the country, the Czech deputies consented to the Slovak draft. Slovakia became a fully autonomous unit with own government, administration and special budgetary provisions; some overall Czechoslovak issues, e.g. presidential elections, were subjected to consent of qualified majority of the Slovak assembly. The constitutional amendment abandoned the original concept of Czechoslovak nation and referred to Czech and Slovak nations;[62] the country was renamed from Czechoslovak to Czecho-Slovak Republic. This setup lasted only few months; in March 1939 the prime minister of autonomous Slovakia and the ľudák leader Jozef Tiso declared total independence. At the time Czech lands were overrun by German troops and soon got incorporated into the Reich as Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

Edvard Beneš

In 1939-1945 the chief exponent of Czechoslovakism was the London-based Czechoslovak government in exile led by Jan Šrámek and especially by the president in-exile, Edvard Beneš; Czechoslovakism was popular also among some sympathetic British historians, like Seton-Watson.[63] Officially the exile Czechoslovak structures not only refused to recognise the post-September-1938 political changes but they also stuck to the theory of one, Czechoslovak nation; it was advanced as late as in mid-1943.[64] When negotiating with Moscow-sponsored Czechoslovak Communists Beneš advocated return to Czechoslovakism as to a state doctrine,[65] though KSČ at that time was already highly sceptical about viability of the concept.[66] Also the National Slovak Council (SNR), underground body formed in Slovakia, styled as continuation of the pre-1939 autonomous Slovak assembly, politically heterogeneous though strongly left-leaning and declaring loyalty to president Benes, adopted a different position. The body, formally the supreme political organisation leading the Slovak National Uprising, in its September 1944 pronouncement spoke in favour of Czechoslovakia as the state of two nations, the Czechs and the Slovaks.[67]

Czechoslovakism under Communism

Czechoslovak CoA (1961–1989)
Czechoslovak CoA (1961–1989)

The Czechoslovak state re-constructed in 1945-1948 abandoned the notion of a common Czechoslovak nation. The 1948 constitution referred to "we, the Czechoslovak people", the 1960 constitution read "we, the working-class people of Czechoslovakia", and the 1968 constitution opened with "we, the Czech and Slovak nations".[68] There are scholars who consider some of these concepts “a shadow of Czechoslovakism”,[69] yet officially Czechoslovakism was denounced as a bourgeoisie doctrine supposed to facilitate penetration of Czech capital into Slovakia.[70] In terms of ideology – e.g. in school textbooks – the emphasis was on class struggle, either of the “Czechoslovak people” or of the Czech and Slovak nations.[71] Most key cultural institutions like central art gallery, theatre, museum or philharmonic orchestra were duplicated, with the Czech ones located in Prague and the Slovak ones in Bratislava. The flagship newspaper of the Communist party was issued as Rudé právo in Czech and as Pravda in Slovak.

Though there was no mention of autonomy, in 1948 Slovakia was granted its own legislative and executive bodies; no such bodies were introduced for Bohemia or Moravia. The new constitution of 1960 did away with local Slovak executive; some of its duties were transferred to the Slovak legislative and some to central state agencies. One more change followed in 1968, when a massive constitutional amendment converted the country into a federation, composed of parallel and equal Czech and Slovak socialist republics. In common state bodies Slovakia was over-represented when compared to its share of the population: in the bi-cameral Federal Assembly the lower house was composed of 134 deputies elected in the Czech Republic and 66 deputies elected in the Slovak one; the upper house was composed of 75 deputies from each republic. Two republics had own legislative and executive bodies, including the prime minister. Since the mid-1980s another constitutional change was considered; it would consist of introducing separate constitutions for Czech and Slovak republics, apart from the existing Czechoslovak one. Half-hearted works on such “trilateral” structure proceeded grudgingly and were not completed until the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia.[72]

In practical terms all politics was decided by the Communist party, which since the late 1940s seized all power and turned the country into dictatorship; the party itself was unitary, with no division into a Czech and a Slovak section. The first two party leaders, Gottwald and Novotny, were Czechs; the next two, Dubček and Husák, were Slovaks; the last one, Jakeš, was Czech again. The federal prime ministers (the post introduced in 1968) were Czechs: Černík, Štrougal and Adamec. The regime was generally cautious to maintain proportional parity between Czechs and Slovaks where possible. Excess of Czech or Slovak national zeal was usually immediately challenged,[74] though some conflicts were unavoidable. A unique period was this of late 1960s/early 1970s, when many Czechs associated the Husak-led de-liberalization with excessive Slovak influence.[75] In economic terms it seems that Slovakia was even better off than in the interwar period, with state investments especially in heavy industry. As a result, the gap in economic and social development was narrowed; in the late 1980s GDP per capita in Slovak Republic was 87% of this in Czech Republic and per capita Slovak consumption was 91% of the Czech one.[76]

End of Czechoslovakia

Vaclav Klaus

After the fall of communism in late-1989 it initially appeared that some sort of federative solution uniting Czechs and Slovaks would be maintained. None of political parties which competed in the 1990 elections advocated break-up, though most agreed that the federative regime had to be re-defined.[77] However, in course of 1990-1992 the initial consensus was getting increasingly fragile; its first sign was a so-called “hyphen war”, when parliamentarians debated whether the country should be named “Czechoslovak”, “Czecho-Slovak” or “Czech and Slovak” Republic. Though eventually the last of these solutions was adopted as official name in both languages,[78] the episode demonstrated substantial differences between Czechs and Slovaks about the identity of their shared country. Other issues soon followed, e.g. a 1991 debate over control of Federal Broadcasting Council, the body to supervise and regulate the broadcast media.[79] Parliamentary works to define a new federative regime languished. Apart from Czechoslovak parties or parties divided into Czech and Slovak sections, there were new parties emerging which catered exclusively to Czech and especially Slovak electorate. Except the Communists there was no party with comparable support in Czech and Slovak lands, and except Havel and Dubček there were no Czech/Slovak politicians which enjoyed prestige in their non-native republics.[80]

In Slovakia the 1992 elections produced clear but not overwhelming victory of Slovakia-specific parties which advocated a confederative Czechoslovak solution, though they included also a visible independentist current. In June and July leaders of two victorious groupings, Václav Klaus from the Czech Civil Democratic Party (ODS) and Vladimír Mečiar from the Slovak Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) held talks about forming a common coalition government. The future federative formula turned into the key point of disagreement. Following a few weeks of unsuccessful negotiations, in July the HZDS-dominated Slovak diet unilaterally declared independence, sealed shortly afterwards by decision to dissolve Czechoslovakia, adopted jointly by Klaus and Mečiar. No public consultations like referendum were held. In a series of legal acts, in late 1992 the federal parliament agreed on specific measures and declared Czechoslovakia dissolved as of December 31, 1992.

Vladimír Mečiar

Breakup of Czechoslovakia came about though there was no vigorous independence movement on either side; according to opinion polls, only slightly more than one third of both Czechs and Slovaks supported dissolution.[81] However, there was no vigorous movement in defence of the common state either; its key advocate was president Havel, at the time a moral authority rather than a political leader. In general, the dissolution is attributed to Slovak unease about a state union with Czechs, a formula which many of them considered Czech-biased by default;[82] some claim that Slovaks rejected common state as means of advancing Czechoslovakism.[83] Some scholars pointed also to different visions of socio-economic transformation or even suggested that things got out of hand.[84] As there were no serious points of disagreement, e.g. in terms of mutually coveted territory or national minorities, negotiating a divorce was fairly easy. Factors which prompted Czechs and Slovaks to build a common state in 1918 did not exist any more. There was no real threat of German or Hungarian revisionism in the early 1990s; there was virtually no German minority in the Czech Republic,[85] while in Slovakia the ratio of Slovaks to Hungarians went up from 3:1 in 1918 to 8:1 in 1991.[86]



After the break-up of Czechoslovakia both Czechs and Slovaks focused on their own nation-state projects. In case of Mečiar-led Slovaks it was not infrequently dubbed nationalist populism[87] or ultra-nationalism;[88] in case of Czechs some scholars confronted the post-Czechoslovak “Little Czech” identity with the earlier “Great Czech” identity.[89] Czechoslovakism went into almost total oblivion, and if mentioned it was referred to with scepticism or hostility, by Czechs as a failed concept[90] and by Slovaks as disguised Czech expansionism.[91] No serious political force in Czech or Slovak state advanced either a vision of a common Czechoslovak nation or this of a common Czechoslovakia, be it as unitary state, federation, confederation or otherwise.[92] The most visible project until today has been "Czechoslovakia 2018", more of a social media initiative rather than an organised political group. It aims to re-unite both countries by triggering referenda, though it clearly notes the existence of two separate nations.[93] The initiative produced no result so far; signatures needed are being collected, but it is not clear whether there is any chance to meet the threshold required by law, especially high in case of Slovakia.[94]

Both Czech and Slovak states officially and somewhat proudly embrace the Czechoslovak heritage as part of their common history; in October 2018 there were celebrations of 100th anniversary of foundation of Czechoslovakia in Prague and Bratislava, and respective governmental agencies of both states joined forces in common enterprises like a grand Czech-Slovak Exhibition, organised by national museums.[95] However, the Slovak 2018 celebrations focused on October 30, the day of the Martin declaration, while the Czech ones focused on October 28, the day the Czechoslovak National Council declared Czechoslovak independence.[96] Moreover, October 28 is traditionally a major holiday for the Czechs, while Slovak public holidays commemorate rather the Slovak constitution, establishment of Slovak state and the Slovak National Uprising.


The vision of common history as perceived by Czechs and Slovaks in 2018 is visibly, though not strikingly different; in opinion polls both nations quote somewhat different sets of most and least preferred personalities or episodes.[97] Opinion polls as to the break-up of Czechoslovakia are inconclusive. In the late 2010s a slight majority of both Czechs and Slovaks approved of emergence of their own nation states, though only some 40% positively evaluated the break-up of Czechoslovakia; it seems that a slightly higher percentage of Slovaks than Czechs view the common past favourably.[98] In 2018 Slovakia was the 4th Czech trading partner (6.3%),[99] while the Czech Republic was the Slovak 2nd partner (11.5%).[100] There is an increasing number of Slovaks migrating to the Czech Republic; currently it stands at around 110,000,[101] which in percentage terms is more than in the interwar period and less than in the Communist Czechoslovakia. In terms of general sentiment both nations seem fairly close. In ratings of most-liked nations the Slovaks top the list among the Czechs and the Czechs among the Slovaks;[102] in case they do not compete against each other, national sport teams (typically ice hockey) are mutually supported by Czechs and Slovaks. For many mid-age and older people a sentiment towards times of youth extends to Czechoslovakia-made icons like Krtek or kofola.[103]

Historiographic assessment

Open books stacked.jpg

In scholarly historiographic discourse Czechoslovakism is defined as a concept of either a common Czechoslovak nation or a common Czechoslovak state. The former definition clearly prevails yet its exact content might vary, as relations between the Czechs and the Slovaks in the common nation could have been defined differently. The classic model of theoretical Czechoslovakism as reconstructed by historians envisions one nation composed of two equal components, the Czechs and the Slovaks. However, the term Czechoslovakism could be applied also to somewhat different models of Czech and Slovak national unity. One was based on theory of the Slovaks simply as Czechs living in (former) Upper Hungary; another envisioned Slovaks as branch of a Czech “tribe” or Czech “peoples”, the term somewhat broader than “a nation”; one more saw the Slovaks as Slavic ethnic group akin to Czechs yet to gain national identity, sort of “Czechs in-the-making”; finally, some acknowledged separate ethnic/cultural status of Czechs and Slovaks and viewed the Czechoslovak nation as one political community. This last model is already close to a concept which acknowledges existence of two separate Czech and Slovak nations, united by common political interest and supporting a common, Czechoslovak state.[104]

There are different mechanisms considered responsible first for the rise and then for the fall of Czechoslovakism. Among the former scholars usually quote linguistic proximity (which in the early 19th century almost resulted in buildup of a common language), lack of ethnic and political conflicts between Czech-speakers and Slovak-speakers, and common political interest related to post-1918 ethnic setup. According to the last reading, Czechoslovakism was more of a negative defensive political strategy rather than a positive national ideology; it reportedly emerged as combined measure of Czech self-defense against the Germans and Slovak self-defense against the Hungarians. Among mechanisms listed as leading to demise of Czechoslovakism one might find: allegedly innate Czech-bias of the concept, which gradually alienated the Slovaks; cultural differences between secular, mostly urban Czechs and Catholic, mostly rural Slovaks; lack of key common positive narrative; genuine and popular yet ultimately incompatible Czech and Slovak visions of community; international factors, which in the mid-20th century delivered an impulse against Czechoslovakism, and which in the late 20th century failed to deliver an impulse to support it. When assessing the balance between centrifugal and centripetal factors most scholars are very cautious when offering a verdict whether Czechoslovakism was doomed to fail or whether it stood a chance of success.[105]

Hoverla CS-PL board.JPG

See also


  1. ^ Preclík, Vratislav. Masaryk a legie (Masaryk and legions), váz. kniha, 219 pages, first issue vydalo nakladatelství Paris Karviná, Žižkova 2379 (734 01 Karvina, Czech Republic) ve spolupráci s Masarykovým demokratickým hnutím (Masaryk Democratic Movement, Prague), 2019, ISBN 978-80-87173-47-3, pages 36 - 39, 41 - 42, 106 - 107, 111-112, 124–125, 128, 129, 132, 140–148, 184–199.
  2. ^ Elisabeth Bakke, Doomed to Failure?: The Czechoslovak Nation Project and the Slovak Autonomist Reaction, 1918-38, Oslo 1999, ISBN 9788257044718, p. 81
  3. ^ e.g. Bernolák referred to “uhorskoslovansky” ethnic realm, Alexander Maxwell, Choosing Slovakia: Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language and Accidental Nationalism, London 2009, ISBN 9780857711335, p. 86
  4. ^ see e.g. a 1846 pamphlet Hlasové o potřebě jednoty spisovného jazyka pro Čechy, Moravany a Slováky, which advances a concept of Czecho-Moravian-Slovak linguistic unity
  5. ^ Miloš Kovačka, Jur Ribay v dejinách slovenskej národnej knižnice a slovenskej národnej bibliografie (na okraj Ribayovho projektu národnej knižnice Slovákov v Uhorsku), [in:] Knižnica 5 (2004), pp. 472-476
  6. ^ Jaroslav Vlček, Počiatky samostatnej literatúry slovenskej, [in:] Literárne Informacné Centrum service, available here
  7. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 129
  8. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 129-130
  9. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 129
  10. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 143
  11. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 132
  12. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 144
  13. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 154
  14. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 116
  15. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 154
  16. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 116
  17. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 154
  18. ^ during the turbulent Spring of the Peoples period many Czech politicians hoped for reform of the Habsburg empire. Their proposal of federalization, fathered mostly by František Palacký, elaborated for the anticipated Constitutional Assembly and made public in 1849, for the first time in modern era foresaw a unit which encompassed ethnically Czech and ethnically Slovak territories, Bakke 1999, pp. 108-9
  19. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 108-111
  20. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 118
  21. ^ Alexander Maxwell, Choosing Slovakia: Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language and Accidental Nationalism, London 2009, ISBN 9780857711335, p. 102
  22. ^ for brief review see Elisabeth Bakke, Czechoslovakism in Slovak history, [in:] Mikuláš Teich, Dušan Kováč, Martin D. Brown (eds.), Slovakia in history, Cambridge 2011, ISBN 9781139494946, p. 16
  23. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 153
  24. ^ late 1914 Masaryk suggested vaguely to the British that a Czech state should include also the Slovak part of Hungary; in April 1915 he put this concept in writing when preparing Independent Bohemia, a confidential memorandum delivered to the Foreign Office, Bakke 1999, p. 181
  25. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 182
  26. ^ Procházka, Jindřich, ed. (1915). Bohemia's claim for freedom. [London]: Chatto and Windus.
  27. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 182
  28. ^ first named National Committee of the Czech Lands
  29. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 182
  30. ^ its secretary Edvard Beneš referred to a Czechoslovak nation, while Masaryk referred rather to a Czech nation, Bakke 1999, pp. 183-185
  31. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 185
  32. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 186
  33. ^ see references to “uhorskej vetvi československého kmeňa”, quoted after Bakke 1999, p. 186
  34. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 187
  35. ^ PRECLÍK, Vratislav. Masaryk a legie (Masaryk and legions), váz. kniha, 219 pages, first issue, vydalo nakladatelství Paris Karviná, Žižkova 2379 (734 01 Karvina, CZ) ve spolupráci s Masarykovým demokratickým hnutím (Masaryk Democratic Movement, Prague), 2019, ISBN 978-80-87173-47-3, pp. 8 - 52, 57 - 120, 124 - 128, 130 - 140, 142 - 148, 150 - 165, 184 - 198
  36. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 187-188
  37. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 187
  38. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 189
  39. ^ initially named National Revolutionary Assembly
  40. ^ though it and once referred to “Czechoslovak people”, Bakke 1999, p. 192
  41. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 161
  42. ^ according to the 1921 data in a theoretical Czech state composed of former Austrian provinces of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia there would have been 6,5m Czechs vs. 3,0m Germans; in a theoretical Slovak state in borders of the 1939 Slovakia, there would have been 2,2m Slovaks vs. 0.7m Hungarians, data after Tereza Novotna, Czechoslovakia, Czechoslovakismus, and German National Minorities between the World Wars: Emanuel Rádl’s Theory of a Nation and a State, [in:] eSharp 6 (2005), p. 6
  43. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 168
  44. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 197
  45. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 198
  46. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 162
  47. ^ the 4 lands in question were Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia, Slovakia and Sub-Carpathian Russia
  48. ^ Martin Brusis, Czechoslovakia: State Formation and Administrative-Territorial Organization, [in:] Researchgate service, available here
  49. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 203-237; for instance, the Czech version dealing with the early Medieval period claimed that “také na Moravě, a ve Slezsku a na Slovensku bydlili Čechům příbuzní kmenové a tvořili s nimi jeden národ. Jednotlivé kmeny lišily se později od sebe pouze nářečím, krojem, zvyky a obyčeji”; the Slovak version claimed that “Na Moravě, ve Slezsku i na Slovensku usadili se později jiní kmenové slovanští. Z těchto všech kmenů povstal národ československý”, quoted after Bakke 1999, p. 204
  50. ^ Vavro Šrobár held various ministerial jobs prior to 1923; Milan Hodža served as prime minister in 1935-1938
  51. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 447-449
  52. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 425
  53. ^ in some branches of public administration their number actually exceeded this of the Slovaks, Bakke 1999, p. 410
  54. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 427
  55. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 430
  56. ^ according to one scholar Masaryk explicitly considered Slovaks to be Czechs pure and simple, and agreed to a Czechoslovak denomination as a tactical measure adopted to attract the Slovaks; in Problém malého národa (Problem of a Small Nation, 1905) he wrote: "just consider, how Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and lastly Slovakia are separated in our minds. There are two million Czechs in the Hungarian kingdom!” quoted after Bakke 1999, p. 154. Another vision – see e.g. the opinion of Irena Chovančíková - is that Masaryk saw Czechoslovak nation as a political and not ethnic community, Masarykův čechoslovakismus se stal politickou zbraní, pragmatický byl vznik i zánik Československa, [in:] Radiozurnal service, available here; another version is that for Masaryk, it “was less a theory and more a pragmatic political programme”, Dusan Kovac, Czechs and Slovaks in modern history, [in:] Mikulas Teich, Bohemia in History, Cambridge 1998, ISBN 9780521431552, p. 370. Entirely different reading, which advances the thesis of highly-spirited ideological concept, in Josette Baer, The Genesis of Czechoslovakism. An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into the Influence of Rousseau’s Réligion Civile, [in:] William B. Simons (ed.), East European Faces of Law and Society; Values and Practices, Leiden 2014, ISBN 9789004285224, pp. 307-345
  57. ^ this was the case of Social-Democratic, Communist, Popular, National-Democratic, Small Traders and Socialist parties
  58. ^ this was the case of the strongest party of the interwar Czechoslovakia, Republican Party of Farmers and Peasants; in Czech lands it operated as "Republikánská strana zemědělského a malorolnického lidu", in Slovak lands as "Republikánska strana zemedelského a maloroľníckeho ľudu", Bakke 1999, pp. 162-165
  59. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 506-507
  60. ^ excellent case study on implementation of Czechoslovakism in a provincial Slovak town in Ondrej Ficeri, Czechoslovakism in Mentalities of Košice’s Inhabitants and Its Implementation in the Public Space of the City in the Interwar Era, [in:] Mesto a dejiny 6 (2017), pp. 22-47
  61. ^ Bakke 1999, p. 313
  62. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 472-473
  63. ^ Věra Olivová, Podiven: manipulace s dějinami první republiky, [in:] Britske Listy service 14.01.2003, available here
  64. ^ Zbyněk Zeman, Antonín Klimek, The Life of Edvard Benes 1884-1948: Czechoslovakia in Peace and War, London 1997, ISBN 9780198205838, p. 216
  65. ^ Václav Škoda, Národní výbory: základní orgány jednotné státní moci v ČSSR, Praha 1975, p. 19
  66. ^ in the early 1920s the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia adopted the theory of one Czechoslovak nation, but abandoned it in 1924, Ficeri 2017, p. 43
  67. ^ Dušan Kováč, Déjiny Slovenska, Bratislava 1998, ISBN 8071062685, p. 240
  68. ^ Bakke 2011, p. 247
  69. ^ Tomasz Kamusella, The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe, London 2008, ISBN 9780230583474, p. 941
  70. ^ “Čechoslovakismus- ideologická a politická koncepce vládnoucích kruhů české buržoazie v období buržoazní ČSR, prohlašující svébytné národy Čechů a Slováků za jeden „československý národ“. Měla zahalovat faktickou nerovnoprávnost Slováků a potlačovací vykořisťovatelskou politiku českého velkokapitálu na Slovensku”, definition by Příruční slovník naučný, Praha 1962
  71. ^ Bakke 2011, p. 247
  72. ^ Jozef Žatkuliak, Slovakia in the Period of "Normalization" and Expectation of Changes (1969 - 1989), [in:] Časopis Sociologického ústavu Slovenskej akadémie vied 30/3 (1998), pp. 9-10
  73. ^ in the interwar period the Czechoslovak football team was dominated by Czechs; its greatest success of the time, final of the 1934 World Cup, was played by a team composed of 10 Czechs and 1 Slovak. In the post-war era the Slovaks were gradually getting overrepresented in proportion to the entire population. In case of another great success, final of the 1962 World Cup, it was played by a team composed of 7 Czechs and 4 Slovaks. The 1976 final of the European Championship was played by a team composed of 4 Czechs and 7 Slovaks
  74. ^ not infrequently alleged nationalism was a convenient excuse for political purges; Gustav Husak was charged with Slovak nationalism and jailed in 1954-1960
  75. ^ Kováč 1998, p. 291
  76. ^ Žatkuliak 1998, p. 9
  77. ^ Carol Leff, The Czech And Slovak Republics: Nation Versus State, New York 2018, ISBN 9780429976322, pp. 240-245
  78. ^ see the official text, available here
  79. ^ Leff 2018, p. 245
  80. ^ Karel Vodiскa, Příčiny rozdělení Československa, p. 208
  81. ^ Henry Kamm, At Fork in Road, Czechoslovaks Fret, [in:] The New York Times 09.10.1992, available here
  82. ^ Leff 2018, p. 142
  83. ^ “na slovenské straně se údajně pomýlený čechoslovakismus stal zbraní proti Československu”, Masarykův čechoslovakismus se stal politickou zbraní, pragmatický byl vznik i zánik Československa, [in:] Radiozurnal service, available here
  84. ^ e.g. Jan Carnogursky seemed far more inclinded towards Slovak separatist solutions than Meciar, who allegedly got radical due a number of second-rate developments, Roman Kochnowski, Geneza rozpadu Czechosłowacji, [in:] Studia Politicae Universitatis Silesiensis 1 (2005), pp. 154-174
  85. ^ on what is now Czech Republic there were 6,5m Czechs vs. 3m Germans in 1918, Novotna 2005, p. 6; in 1991 there were 8,4 Czechs (excluding Moravians) vs. 0,05m Germans
  86. ^ on what is now Slovakia in 1918 there were 2,2m Slovaks vs. 0.7m Hungarians, Novotna 2005, p. 6; in 1991 there were 4,5m Slovaks and 0,6m Hungarians
  87. ^ Michael Carpenter, Slovakia and the triumph of nationalist populism, [in:] Elsevier 30/2 (1997), pp. 205-2019
  88. ^ Theodor Tudoroiu , Peter Horváth, Marek Hrušovský, Ultra-Nationalism and Geopolitical Exceptionalism in Mečiar's Slovakia, [in:] Problems of Post-Communism 56 (2009), pp. 3-14
  89. ^ Ladislav Holy, The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation: National Identity and the Post-Communist Social Transformation, Cambridge 1996, ISBN 9780521555845
  90. ^ the Czech president Vaclav Klaus as late as in 2006 made some derogatory comments on Czechoslovakism, Jan Ruzicka, Kamila Stullerova, From the Second Best Option to Dissolution: Instrumentality and Identity in Czechoslovak Federalism, [in:] Magdalena Zolkos, Emilian Kavalski (eds.), Defunct Federalisms: Critical Perspectives on Federal Failure, Aldershot 2013, ISBN 9781409498810, p. 129
  91. ^ Škodlivý čechoslovakizmus v dejinnej praxi, [in:] Czech Free Press service, available here
  92. ^ some Czech media reported with amusement that in 2017 a British minister David Davies referred to Czechoslovakia when apparently he meant Czech Republic, Klára Galová, Britský ministr pro brexit nazval Českou republiku Československem. Na internetu je terčem vtipů, [in:] Seznamzpravy service 26.10.2017 available here
  93. ^ “dva národy, Češi a Slováci”, Argumenty Pro, [in:] Ceskoslovensko 2018 service, available here
  94. ^ see Československo 2018 service, available here
  95. ^ see Czech-Slovak Exhibition,a joint website maintained by Czech and Slovak governments, available here
  96. ^ Slovakia approves one-off public holiday to celebrate foundation of Czechoslovakia, [in:] Kafkadesk 16.09.2018, available here
  97. ^ among Czechs the most favorably evaluated personalities were 1) Masaryk, 2) Jan Palach and 3) Havel, among Slovaks 1) Stefanik, 2) Dubcek and 3) Masaryk; the most negatively evaluated were 1) Gottwald, 2) Husak and 3) Vasil Bilak among the Czechs and 1) Bilak, 2) Tiso and 3) Gottwald among the Slovaks. As the most important events of the last 100 years the Slovaks listed 1) the Slovak 1944 rising, 2) emergence of Slovak state in 1993 and the 3) Velvet revolution of 1989; according to Czechs they were 1) emergence of the Czechoslovak state in 1918, 2) the Velvet revolution and 3) emergence of the Czech state in 1993 (Slovak rising was listed 7th), Češi nejpozitivněni hodnotili revoluci 1989, Slováci SNP, [in:] Ceske Noviny service 12.06.2018, available here
  98. ^ Rozdělení Československa vnímají Češi i Slováci smířlivěji, [in:] Novinky service 04.12.2017, available here
  99. ^ Foreign Trade of the Czech Republic, [in:] Ministry of Industry Trade service, 13.12.2018, available here
  100. ^ Foreign trade figures of Slovakia, [in:] Nordeatrade service, available here
  101. ^ Slováků v Česku přibývá, za deset let se jejich počet zdvojnásobil, [in:] Novinky service 18.11.2017, available here
  102. ^ Slováci sú v Česku najobľúbenejším národom, [in:] Svet service 06.03.2015, available here
  103. ^ there are even people who spend weeks hiking a tourist trail which connects former Westernmost and Easternmost points of Czechoslovakia, Adam Votruba, Hříchy čechoslovakismu, [in:] Denikreferendum service 31.10.2013, available here
  104. ^ Bakke 1999, pp. 514-533, Skalnik Leff 2014, pp. 274-298
  105. ^ a highly skeptical opinion in Bakke 1999, similar view in Ficeri 2017; for rather critical assessment of this theory see Peter Haslinger, Doomed to Failure? The Czechoslovak Nation Project and the Slovak Autonomist Reaction 1918 – 1938, [in:] H-Net Reviews Online (2001), Milan Zemko, Doomed to Failure? The Czechoslovak Nation Project and the Slovak Autonomist Reaction 1918 – 1938, [in:] Historický časopis 50/2 (2002), pp. 350-355, Xenia Šuchova, Idea československého štátu na Slovensku 1918 – 1939: Protagonisti, nositelia, oponenti, Bratislava 2011, ISBN 9788089396122

Further reading