Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Beneš, Eduard from Philip's Encyclopedia

Czech statesman, president (1935-38). A follower of Tomás Masaryk, Benes promoted Czech independence while abroad during World War 1, and became Czechoslovakia's first foreign minister (1918-35). He resigned (1938) from the presidency in protest against the Munich agreement. Re-elected in 1946, he resigned again in 1948 after the communist takeover.


Summary Article: Beneš, Eduard from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(ĕ'dʊärt bĕ'nĕsh), 1884–1948, Czechoslovakian president (1935–38, 1946–48). As a student at Prague Univ. he adopted the political and social philosophy of T. G. Masaryk. Later he studied in France, taught sociology and economics at Prague, and joined (1915) Masaryk in exile in Paris to work for Czechoslovak independence. After the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the end of World War I, he represented Czechoslovakia at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. As foreign minister (1918–35), premier (1921–22), leader of the Czech National Socialist party (a liberal and nationalist party, unlike its German counterpart), and right-hand man of Masaryk, Beneš influenced both national and European politics. The Little Entente and the Czech alliance with France were essentially his work. He became (1935) president of Czechoslovakia at Masaryk's retirement but resigned (1938) after the dismemberment of his country by the Munich Pact and went into exile. After the outbreak of World War II he resumed (1940) the title president and headed, in London, a provisional government at war with Germany. Returning to Prague in 1945, he was confirmed in office and was reelected (1946) president. After the Communist coup of Feb., 1948, he reluctantly endorsed the new regime, but resigned in June on the ground of illness, refusing to sign the new constitution. He died shortly afterward.

  • See his two volumes of war memoirs (tr. 1928, repr. 1971 and tr. 1954, repr. 1972). See also K. Kaplan, The Short March: The Communist Take-over of Power in Czechoslovakia (1987).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Beneš, Eduard
Philip's Encyclopedia

1884-1948 Czech statesman, president (1935-38). A follower of Tomás Masaryk , Benes promoted Czech independence while abroad during World War...

Full text Article Beneš, Edvard
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

(born May 28, 1884, Kozlany, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary—died Sept. 3, 1948, Sezimovo Ústí, Czech.) Czechoslovakian statesman. A disciple of Tomáš Mas

Full text Article Runciman, Walter Runciman 1st Viscount
The Columbia Encyclopedia

(rŭn'sĭmən), 1870–1949, British shipping magnate and public official. He inherited his father's large shipping business. As a Liberal he served in Pa

See more from Credo