Beneš, Edvard, b 28 May 1884 in Kožlany, Bohemia, d 3 September 1948 in Sezimovo Ústí, Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovak statesman and political leader. In 1918–35 he served as minister of foreign affairs, in 1921–2 as prime minister, and in 1935–8 as president of Czechoslovakia. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 Beneš and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk persuaded the victorious powers to give Transcarpathia to Czechoslovakia. Beneš viewed Transcarpathia as Czechoslovakia’s bridge to Romania and eventually to the Soviet Union. Beneš was the organizer of the Little Entente. In 1935 he signed a mutual-defense pact with the USSR. After the Munich Agreement of 1938 he resigned his presidency, and in 1939 he headed the Czechoslovak government in exile. In 1943 he again established close ties with the Soviet government, and in 1945 he ceded Transcarpathia to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1948 Beneš resigned his presidency for a second time because he refused to sign the new constitution after the Communist coup. Beneš was a Russophile, and his concessions to the USSR gave him a reputation as an opportunistic realist.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]