Independent Czechoslovak State Day, also known as Czech Independence Day, is celebrated annually on October 28. This special day marks the creation of the Czechoslovakia republic in 1918 when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Although Czechoslovakia no longer exists today, Czechs still view October 28 as the day of their national founding and celebrate the creation of independent Czechoslovakia.
Three historical lands, which make up the present Czech Republic (Bohemia, Moravia, and part of Silesia) were a part of the multinational Central European empire – the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
During World War, I, which continued from 1914 to 1918, the desire to be an autonomous state was gaining in strength all through the empire. The fantasy, in the end, turned into a reality and the first Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, was later at the head of political representation that negotiated the making of another state at the worldwide level, inside the borders of three historical lands that had been connected since the Middle Ages under the Czech crown, to which Slovakia and Ruthenia were included.
On October 28, 1918, the National Committee passed its first law, the law on the establishment of the Independent State of Czechoslovakia. On gaining independence from Austria-Hungary, the people cheered and celebrated independence on the streets of cities and small towns.
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History of Independent Czechoslovak State Day: What Really Happened?
The Czechs, Slovaks, and Poles are West Slavs. In the seventh century, the Samo Empire bound together the Czechs and Slovaks for around 30 years. The Czechs also controlled the Slovaks for around the same time span during the last half of the 10th century. In the following century, Slovakia was conquered by the Hungarians, while the Czechs formed Bohemia, which turned into a kingdom in the year 1198.
It isn’t at all surprising that these neighbors were in continuous contact. With the establishing of Charles University in the 14th century, Slovaks came to Prague to study. During the following century, the Czech Hussite Wars brought troops to Slovakia. The zone was likewise a safe house for Czech Protestants in the 17th century.
In the 19th century, the three historical lands, which make up the present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia were a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During this period, Bohemia was transformed by the Industrial Revolution. New social classes existed, for example, industry specialists and groups of highly-educated people. A national revival occurred, and a push was on to make (or, rather, recreate) the Bohemian Kingdom. Slovakia was significantly less industrialized, and though it, too, experienced a national revival, this was on a considerably small scale than that in Bohemia.
Slovakia was ruled by intelligent people and comprised generally of rural inhabitants. One of the supporters of an independent Czechoslovak state was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Students of Masaryk made a Czechoslovak Union and, in 1898, started distributing a journal called The Voice (Hlas). Educated people on the two sides started to connect with each other regularly with a view to making their very own nation.
In June 1914, a Serbian-nationalist terrorist group called the Black Hand sent groups to kill the Archduke. World War I started in 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. As the Czechs were members of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they were forced to fight the Serbs and the Russians, two Slavic groups.
Passion for this endeavor was low. Masaryk, in Western Europe, worked hard to gain support for the formation of an independent state; in the meantime, soldiers formed the renowned Czechoslovak Legion, battling across Russia. During 1916, Tomas Masaryk, MR Stefanik, and Edvard Benes established what later came to be known as the Czechoslovak national council, it turned into a principal force in the anti-Austrian opposition.
In the first few months of 1918, the movement for an ‘independent’ state spread to the Czech homeland itself. Resistant forces, under the agricultural council led by Antonín Švehla, began withholding food items exported from Bohemia and Moravia to the war front that went to the Austrian military. Because a huge percentage of Austria’s grain was produced in the region, it was a significant threat.
On May 31, 1918, with World War I still raging across Europe and the Austro-Hungarian Empire a breath away from collapse, the Pittsburgh Agreement was marked in the United States. This understanding embraced an arrangement for the creation of an independent Czechoslovak state. Masaryk had been investing some energy in the States to pick up help for this objective, and in October of 1918, he declared Czechoslovak freedom.
Czechoslovak independence was declared on Wenceslas Square on October 28, 1918, marking the beginning of a new era for two nations that had previously been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On one hand there were celebrations of independence, and on the other hand, the Austria-Hungarian Empire was taking its last breathes with two more weeks still remaining for World War I to end.
*The creation of Czechoslovakia, happening when the war was still being fought, marked the beginning of the “First Republic” of Czechoslovakia, lasting for two decades until Nazi Germany annexed the Czech Lands in 1938-1939″.
The “First Men” of the “First Republic”
- President – Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
- Prime Minister – Karel Kramář
- Finance Minister – Alois Rašín
- Minister of Foreign Affairs – Edvard Beneš
- Minister of Defence – Milan Rastislav Štefánik
Importance of 28 October for the Czechs
October 28 is of great significance to the Czechs as it’s the day marking many other important national events in the history of Czech Republic, like the student-led protests against the Nazi occupation in 1939, and later became the date of Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the collapse of Communist rule.
Thus, October 28, not only marks the celebration of independence from Austria-Hungary but also a date of many other important national events as well!
Czechoslovakia National Flag
The National Flag of Czechoslovakia was the same as the flag of the present-day Czech Republic. The first flag was based on the flag of Bohemia and was white over red. As the flag was almost identical to the flag of Poland, so a blue triangle was added at the hoist in 1920.
The flag was banned by the Nazis in 1939. However later in 1945, the 1920’s flag was restored and since then, it has been in continuous use.
- Red & White: Heraldic colors of Bohemia
- Blue Triangle at the hoist △: an effort to distinguish Czech’s flag from the Poland flag
- Blue color: represents the State of Moravia
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Independent Czechoslovak State Day – Public Life
Independent Czechoslovak State Day, also known as Czech Independence Day, is celebrated every year on October 28. This special day marks the creation of Czechoslovakia republic in 1918 when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The “First Republic” lasted for two decades until Nazi Germany occupied the lands in 1938-1939.
Despite the fact that Czechoslovakia no longers exists today, Czechs hold great respect for October 28 as the day of their national establishing. October 28 is a national holiday in the Czech Republic. All schools, colleges, offices, public and private institutes, and businesses remain closed.
Day of Independence of Czechoslovakia: 28 October Celebrations
- The events of the past are remembered through special Independence Day seminars and speeches, making it an important day even today.
- The President of the Czech Republic places flowers or wreath on the grave of the former President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk who struggled for establishing an independent nation.
- In the evening, the Czech President distributes awards to important figures who lead cultural and social programs in the country.
- The whole nation pays tribute to the late President Masaryk and remembers the role he played in establishing the nation.
- On this day, the doors of Czech Prime Minister’s House and the Residence of the Mayor of Prague are open for general public.
- Many citizens head over to recreational spots for a great picnic with friends and family.
Note: *This day is not a holiday in Slovakia.