Do you know who was the founding first president of the new state of Czechoslovakia 100 years ago?

It was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk – or TGM as he was often known – and this week I attended a talk given by his great granddaughter Charlotta Kotik. The event was organised by the British Czech and Slovak Association and the venue was the Slovak Embassy in London.

Masaryk was already 68 when he became President in 1918 and he won a succession of new terms before age and ill-health forced him to abdicate in 1935 at the venerable age of 85 (he died two years later).

His great granddaughter is an art historian in the United States, but told of her childhood in Communist Czechoslovakia where, as a member of the Masaryk family, she was denied access to university and employment.

Some years ago, I read a very interesting biography of Tomáš Masaryk and his son Jan and you can read my review of that book here.


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