Czechs often say „the First Republic“ when they speak about their history. Do you know what it means? Do you know when the era of the First Republic was? It was one of the best Czech (and Slovak) periods. But only for 20 years…
Czech history starts in the 9th century. The Czech kingdom existed till the beginning of the 20th century but it was a part of the Habsburg Monarchy from the 17th century. In 1918 the world war I ended. The Austro-Hungarian Empire (the Habsburg Monarchy) suffered a defeat and new states originated on its territory. Czech and Slovak people had a similar language, culture, and history. They arranged to establish one state – Czechoslovakia.
The Czechoslovak Republic was founded on 28th October 1918. It was a democratic republic where the Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Polish, Hungarians, Jewish, and Russians. Did you know that the Zakarpattya region was a part of the Czechoslovak Republic?
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk became the first Czechoslovak president. He was a politician in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and did a lot for acceptance of the new Czechoslovak state by France, Great Britain, and the USA. People knew that and respected him. He was an older man (he was 68 in 1918 and he stayed in presidential office till 1935!) but he was very popular, some people called him „Daddy“ („tatíček“).
The First Republic
Czechoslovakia quickly stabilized politically and economically. People had to work a lot but their cultural and social life became better. Baťa company opened a big shopping store in Wenceslas Square in Prague. The architecture was original – houses of a style called functionalism were built. It was an era of great film development – people were going to the cinema to watch stars as Adina Mandlová or Oldřich Nový. In Prague, a new Lucerna cinema and film studios Barrandov were opened. First neon lights in the Wenceslas square could be seen. Women wore new fashion – shorter skirts. Books and newspapers were published, e.g. Karel Čapek was a very popular author. There were Czechoslovak painters and graphic artists known around the world. Rich people started to buy cars. You could listen to the swing from the radio…
Listen to the hit song of the 30´s – Jen pro ten dnešní den (Only for today). Film star Oldřich Nový is singing.
Germans and Czechs
Germans lived in Czechoslovakia, too. Adolf Hitler wanted the regions where they lived (we call them Sudety) to belong to Germany. He threatened the war when Czechoslovakia didn´t give him these regions. France and Great Britain agreed with Hitler. Czechoslovakia stayed alone and capitulated on 30th September 1938. Germany took over Sudety. And that was the end of Czechoslovak autonomy (until 1945) and also of the epoque we call the First Republic.
The Czechs and Slovak identified themselves with their new state in 1918–1938. They were proud of it. That´s why we still remember the First Republic as a very successful period in Czech history. And we celebrate 28th October, the day when Czechoslovakia was founded, as the state holiday.
Celebrate with us! What about cooking some Czech traditional dish? Here are a few recipes for super easy ones.
Read also other article about Czech history and culture:
19. 10. 2017