Famous Czech Personality – Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Tomáš Masaryk was born on the 7th March 1850 as the oldest son in a poor family in Hodonín. There he attended primary school. In 1865 he was accepted to the German secondary school. After he finished his secondary education he moved to Vienna where he studied philosophy, psychology, history and modern languages. In 1872 he enrolled at the University in Vienna where he was interested in natural and state sciences. He had to earn money for his studies and so he worked as a private teacher of children from rich families. Studies at the Vienna University were easy for him and so he went on to study at the University of Leipzig.
There he met his future wife Charlotte Garrigue from the United States of America. Her surname behind Masaryk’s first name is a symbol of their fortunate marriage. After his habilitation as a senior lecturer at the Vienna University, they lived in Vienna in very modest conditions. In 1882 he went back to Prague where he taught at the freshly re-opened Charles University.
In the 1890s he began to assert himself more in politics. He was a member of the Young Czech party and Imperial Council in the years 1891 – 1893. But this politics was contradicting his principles and so after he left the Imperial Council, he again began to think and construct a new national political programme.
It was typical of Masaryk to enter all social and political competition with outstanding personal bravery and optimism. From the beginning of the 20th century he was aware of new problems in the whole Europe which would result in a big shock. In 1907 he became a member of the Imperial Council for the second time.
At the beginning of The First World War he was 64 years old and so he decided to emigrate at the end of the year 1914. In 1915 in Switzerland he proclaimed a national revolt against the Habsburg family. He risked not only his life but also the life of his family who stayed in Prague. He took on the role of the leader of the national and democratic revolution. He conducted negotiations in France, England, Russia, the United States of America and other countries. He organised the foreign army legions of Czech and Slovak volunteers.
At the end of the revolt he produced the Declaration of Independence – Washington’s declaration which established the Czechoslovak Republic on the 18th October 1918. In the new republic, T. G. Masaryk was elected as the first president by the National Council on the 11th November 1918. He was re-elected in the years 1920, 1927, and 1934. He died in Lány in 1937.
He wanted Czechoslovakia to be an independent and democratic state.
I chose Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk because I think that he was a truly outstanding Czech personality. He was the president of our country for the longest time – 17 years. He founded Czechoslovakia and risked his life for the existence of an independent state.