Czechoslovakia and Munich, 1920–1939
Before Versailles, Czechoslovakia had never existed. It possessed no historical precedents or traditions. The new state’s borders joined together Bohemia-Moravia and Slovakia, which had been separate since at least the 10th century. It was primarily the creation of Czech (Tomáš Masaryk and Edvard Beneš) and Slovak (Milan Štefánik) World War I emigré nationalists and their followers in France and the United States. Masaryk’s Pittsburgh Agreement (1918) with American Slovak emigrés, which earned him the first presidency in the new country, formed the basis for the new state. Although Czechoslovakia’s constitution was the most liberal-democratic of all the Eastern European states that emerged after World War I, and it quickly won a reputation as a model of functioning democracy, the state was fatally flawed in ethnonational terms.