B bábi, Tibor

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Beneš, Eduard (Kozlany, Bohemia, 28 May, 1884 - Sezimovo Ústí, 3 September, 1948) – Czech politician. He was educated in Prague, Paris and Dijon, where he studied Political Science and Sociology and obtained a Doctorate in Law (1908). Afterwards he taught at the University of Prague. At the outbreak of the First World War Beneš organized a resistance group, the Maffia, but soon escaped from Austria-Hungary and went to Paris, where he taught Slavic Studies at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), and joined Tomaš Garrigue Masaryk in the fight for Czechoslovak independence. What the two men formed was the kernel of the Czechoslovak National Council with Beneš as its first General Secretary. Throughout the rest of the war Beneš worked to persuade the Allies to support the establishment of an independent state for the Czech people. As a result of the Versailles Peace Treaty (4 June, 1920), the independent state of Czechoslovakia, established in 1918, was then confirmed. Beneš became Foreign Minister of the newly created country. In 1920-1922 he organized the Little Entente with Romania and Yugoslavia against revisionist efforts of the badly mutilated Hungary. He worked hard for the League of Nations and attempted to obtain good relations with other nations in Europe. Beneš replaced Tomaš Masaryk when he retired as President in 1935. He considered the Munich Agreement (1938), negotiated by Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler as a grave betrayal and resigned from office and went into voluntary exile in Great Britain (1938). In 1941 Beneš became head of a Czechoslovak provisional government in London. In March 1943 Beneš flew to Moscow, expecting more from Stalin, and he became a Kremlin agent. Beneš, along with Jan Masaryk, accompanied the Russian troops who liberated the country from Germany at the end of World War II, and both were returned victoriously. Beneš worked out and executed the Košice (Kassa) Government Program and the infamous Beneš Decrees on 5 April 1945 to drive out all the non-Slavic minorities and establish a “national state” of Czechs and Slovaks. As the result of his “ethnic cleansing” three million Sudeten Germans and 720,000 Hungarians of Slovakia were declared “collective war criminals” and punished in many ways, including confiscation of property, deportation, expulsion and even slave labor in Silesia. Beneš remained President of Czechoslovakia for three years. After Klement Gottwald formed a pro-Communist government in February 1948, he attempted to keep his presidential role neutral in the struggle for power. In June 1948, when Gottwald intended to introduce a Communist political system, Beneš resigned from office on 7 June and soon died a broken man. His “Decrees” are still somehow an active part of the Corpus Juris both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, despite the fact that both countries have been a part of the European community since 2004. Beneš is regarded as one of the great figures in Czech and Slovak history. He had numerous critics as a fanatic nationalist with a radical plan to eliminate without mercy all non-Slavic ethnic groups. In 2008 a Beneš statue was erected at his place of birth, unveiled by the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus. – B: 1031, 1947, T: 7103.→Beneš Decrees; Hungarian-Czechoslovakian Population Exchange; Atrocities against Hungarians; Trianon Peace Treaty; Hitler, Adolf.

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