Eduard Benesh

Eduard Benesh

Czechoslovak statesman, second President of Czechoslovakia
Date of Birth: 28.05.1884
Country: Czech

  1. Biography of Edward Benes
  2. Early Career
  3. Presidency and Exile
  4. Anti-Nazi Resistance
  5. Return to Czechoslovakia
  6. End of Presidency

Biography of Edward Benes

Edward Benes (28.5.1884, Kozlany, Bohemia - 3.9.1948, Sezimovo Usti, Czechia) was a Czechoslovak statesman and the second President of Czechoslovakia. He was born to a prosperous peasant family and studied at Charles University in Prague, Sorbonne in Paris, and completed his law degree at the University of Dijon in France.

Early Career

Prior to the outbreak of World War I, Benes was a sociology professor in Prague. In 1915, he emigrated to Paris and became the General Secretary of the Czechoslovak National Council in exile. On September 26, 1918, the Council declared itself the Temporary Government of Czechoslovakia. Benes served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from September 1918 to December 1935 and as the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia from September 1921 to October 1922.

Presidency and Exile

In December 1935, Benes was elected as the President of Czechoslovakia. He was one of the founders of the Little Entente and served as a member of the League of Nations Council from 1923 to 1927 and as the Chairman of the Committee of Security from 1927 to 1938. In 1938, he opposed accepting military assistance from the Soviet Union, fearing the loss of Czechoslovakia's independence.

After the signing of the Munich Agreement on September 29, 1938, under pressure from Western powers, Benes resigned and went into exile in the United States. He lectured at the University of Chicago and became a professor. In 1939, he headed the Czechoslovak National Committee in Paris, which served as the basis for the establishment of the Czechoslovak government in exile and the State Council in London.

Anti-Nazi Resistance

While in exile, Benes actively worked to convince Britain and France to denounce the Munich Agreement, which was eventually achieved in August 1942. In July 1941, his government was officially recognized by the anti-Hitler coalition as the legitimate representative of Czechoslovakia.

With the support of Benes' government, separate Czechoslovak units were formed among Czech exiles and served as part of the British army. Although Benes did not support acts of terrorism or the development of partisan movements in Czechoslovakia, he was pressured by British intelligence services to authorize an assassination attempt on SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.

Return to Czechoslovakia

In December 1943, Benes signed the Soviet-Czechoslovak Treaty of Friendship, Mutual Assistance, and Post-War Cooperation in Moscow. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia, Benes assumed the position of the President of the Republic and was officially elected on June 19, 1946. He succeeded in obtaining the Allies' agreement for the mass deportation of Sudeten Germans to Germany.

End of Presidency

In February 1948, under pressure from the Soviet Union and pro-communist forces, Benes reluctantly agreed to the proposed government composition by Klement Gottwald and effectively lost control over the situation in the country. On June 7, 1948, he resigned from the presidency.

Edward Benes was the author of memoirs, including "World War and Our Revolution" (1935) and "Diaries" (1947).