The Czechoslovak Idea

Czech Republic Table of Contents

At the turn of the century, the idea of a "Czechoslovak" entity began to be advocated by some Czech and Slovak leaders. The concept that Czechs and Slovaks shared a common heritage was hardly new. But as the two nations developed, the Slovaks had been intent on demonstrating the legitimacy of Slovak as a language separate from Czech. In the 1890s, contacts between Czech and Slovak intellectuals intensified. The Czech leader Masaryk was a keen advocate of Czech-Slovak cooperation. Some of his students formed the Czechoslovak Union and in 1898 published the journal Hlas (The Voice). In Slovakia, young Slovak intellectuals began to challenge the old Slovak National Party. But although the Czech and Slovak national movements began drawing closer together, their ultimate goals remained unclear. At least until World War I, the Czech and Slovak national movements struggled for autonomy within Austria and Hungary, respectively. Only during the war did the idea of an independent Czechoslovakia emerge.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress