Masaryk, Tomáš Garrigue

Masaryk, Tomáš Garrigue, b 7 March 1850 in Hodonín, Moravia, d 14 September 1937 in Lány, Kladno county, Czechoslovakia. Czech scholar, philosopher, and statesman. A graduate of Vienna University (PH D, 1876), he was a professor of philosophy at Charles University in Prague (1882–1914) and the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918–35). In his scholarly and publicistic works, such as Russland und Europa (1913; English edn: The Spirit of Russia, 1919), The New Europe: The Slav Standpoint (1918), and The Slavs after the War (1922; Ukrainian edn 1923), and his memoirs, Světova revoluce. Za války a ve válce, 1914–1918 (1925; English edn: The Making of a State: Memories and Observations, 1927; Ukrainian edn: Svitova revoliutsiia, 1930), Masaryk often expressed his opinion on Ukrainian issues. He treated the question of Ukrainian nationhood as an open one and sympathized with Ukrainian aspirations to national emancipation. But he hoped that one day Ukraine would be part of a democratic, federated Russia, which would serve as a counterweight to the German threat.

Masaryk came into contact with Ukrainian issues at various times in his career. He was acquainted with Ivan Franko, who dedicated a collection of translated verses to him and contributed his recollections about their relations to a festschrift on Masaryk's 60th birthday. He assisted Ukrainian students in Prague after their secession from Lviv University in 1901–2. As a deputy to the Austrian parliament he took part in the 1908 debates on the Ukrainian-Polish conflict in Ukraine, and in a major speech on 25 May he defended the rights of the Galician Ukrainians to develop freely and independently. After the outbreak of the First World War he headed the Czecho-Slovak independence movement within the Entente alliance. During his stay in Russia and Ukraine (1917–18) he organized a legion of Czech and Slovak POWs and negotiated an agreement with the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) guaranteeing the legion's extraterritorial status in Ukraine and obtaining government support for it. When the UNR declared its independence and concluded the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, he annulled the agreement. The legion remained neutral in the Soviet-Ukrainian conflict that followed (see Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21) and eventually left Ukraine for the Far East.

During his visit to the United States of America (May–November 1918) Masaryk organized the Mid-European Democratic Union, an organization of émigré representatives of the various nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It included Myroslav Sichynsky and Mykola Tsehlynsky from the Ukrainian community and Hryhorii Zhatkovych from the American National Council of Uhro-Rusins. On the basis of an agreement between the Uhro-Rusin council and Masaryk, Transcarpathia was incorporated into the new Czechoslovak Republic in 1919.

As president of Czechoslovakia Masaryk supported the use of the local dialect instead of Russian in Transcarpathian educational and administrative institutions. He was sympathetic to the cultural needs of the large émigré community from Russian-ruled Ukraine and helped establish such institutions as the Ukrainian Free University in Prague and the Ukrainian Husbandry Academy in Poděbrady (see Bohemia). In spite of his sometimes pro-Soviet and Russophile leanings, Masaryk was popular among Ukrainians.

Ivan Lysiak Rudnytsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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