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Battle for the Castle The Myth of Czechoslavakia in Europe 1914-1948 by Andrea (Associate Professor of History,, New Mexico State University) Orzoff

Battle for the Castle The Myth of Czechoslavakia in Europe 1914-1948



Battle for the Castle The Myth of Czechoslavakia in Europe 1914-1948 by Andrea (Associate Professor of History,, New Mexico State University) Orzoff

Since 1918, Czechoslovakia has been known as East-Central Europe's most devoted democracy, an outpost of Western values in the East. While the country has had more democratic experience than its neighbors, this book argues that the claim that Czechs are native democrats, devoted to liberal ideas, emerged from nationalist myth. Battle for the Castle tells the story of that myth's creation during the First World War, used to persuade the Great Powers to create Czechoslovakia out of pieces of Austria-Hungary. Toma Masaryk and Edvard Bene, the two academics crafting the myth and employing it for wartime propaganda, became Czechoslovakia's first president and prime minister. They tried to use the myth to outmaneuver political opponents at home and Czechoslovakia's enemies abroad. Those enemies, and the European Great Powers, also conducted their own propaganda campaigns targeting Czechoslovakia as a symbol of the postwar order. At home, while proclaiming themselves the protectors of democracy, Masaryk and Bene played political hardball through their powerful political machine, the Castle, and defended their legacy against their detractors. 1938 and Nazi occupation seemed to prove out the Castle myth's claims about pacifist Czechs and aggressive Germans. During the war, Bene remade the myth to reflect changed international circumstances, particularly the Soviet Union's new power. After the war and the 1948 Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, the myth entered Anglo-American historiography of Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe. Within academic histories of Czechoslovakia - many of them written by Masaryk's students or Castle colleagues - the myth was transmuted into fact.


Andrea Orzoff is superbly qualified as the author of this book, not only because she has immersed herself inthe relevant primary and secondary literature on the topic but also because of her background in journalism, which was the primary tool for spreading the myth. She also shows that national questions remain an important part of the historical agenda in Central Europe when historical actors define them as important. * American Historical Review *

About the Author

Andrea Orzoff is Associate Professor of History at New Mexico State University.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th July 2009


Andrea (Associate Professor of History,, New Mexico State University) Orzoff

More books by Andrea (Associate Professor of History,, New Mexico State University) Orzoff
Author 'Like for Like'


Oxford University Press Inc


308 pages


European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Politics & government



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