Karel Kramár
Karel Kramář was a Czech
Czech people
Czechs, or Czech people are a western Slavic people of Central Europe, living predominantly in the Czech Republic. Small populations of Czechs also live in Slovakia, Austria, the United States, the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Russia and other countries...



Leader of the Young Czech Party
Young Czech Party
The Young Czech Party was formed in 1874. It initiated the democratization of Czech political parties and led to the establishment of the political base of Czechoslovakia.- Background :...

 in Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 and later of the National Democratic Party
National Democratic Party (Czechoslovakia)
The National Democratic Party was a First Republic right-wing political party in Czechoslovakia. It was founded by Karel Kramář in 1919, after the creation of independent Czechoslovakia from the Austria-Hungary Empire...

 in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. A liberal nationalist with close ties to the political elite in Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 and Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Kramář pursued a policy of cooperation with the Austrian
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 state as the best means of achieving Czech national goals before the First World War, even as he favored closer ties between the Czechs and the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. His commitment to this policy of cooperation with the Austrian government ("positive politics" in the parliance of the day) led him to resign his leadership of the Young Czech party in 1914 as the party drifted toward a more nationalist and oppositional stance. During the First World War the Austrian authorities charged Kramář with treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, tried him and ultimately sentenced him to 15 years of hard labour. His imprisonment acted however to galvanise Czech nationalist opinion against the Austrian state. The new Emperor Karl I
Karl I of Austria
Charles I of Austria or Charles IV of Hungary was the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, the last King of Bohemia and Croatia and the last King of Galicia and Lodomeria and the last monarch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine...

 released Kramář as part of a general political amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 in 1917.

Formerly a close associate of Tomáš Masaryk
Tomáš Masaryk
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk , sometimes called Thomas Masaryk in English, was an Austro-Hungarian and Czechoslovak politician, sociologist and philosopher, who as an eager advocate of Czechoslovak independence during World War I became the founder and first President of Czechoslovakia, also was...

, later the first president of Czechoslovakia, Kramář and Masaryk were barely on speaking terms by 1914. Kramář, as the most prominent politician in Czechoslovakia, was named the country's first prime minister (14 November 1918 – 8 July 1919), much to the displeasure of Masaryk. Kramář, a strong Russophile who was married to a Russian aristocrat, subsequently represented Czechoslovakia at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 but later resigned over Foreign Minister Edvard Beneš
Edvard Beneš
Edvard Beneš was a leader of the Czechoslovak independence movement, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the second President of Czechoslovakia. He was known to be a skilled diplomat.- Youth :...

's failure to support anti-Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 White forces in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


Following the first general election in Czechoslovakia, Kramář's party, now the National Democratic party, became a minor player in the various interwar governments of the new state. Later, Kramář worked together with Jiří Stříbrný
Jirí Stríbrný
Jiří Stříbrný was a Czech politician. He was one of the "founding fathers" of the Czechoslovak Republic, but became a quite controversial figure later on...

 and František Mareš
František Mareš
František Mareš was a Czechoslovak professor of physiology and philosophy, and nationalist politician. He was rector of the Charles University in 1920-21, and member of the National Democrats.-Life:...

 in the National Union (Národní sjednocení).

In May 1919, an anarchist named Alois Šťastný made an unsuccessful attempt to kill Kramář.

Foreign Policy

During his time in the National Assembly (1918–1937), Kramář worked in the Committee for Foreign Affairs and made many speeches on foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

. Kramář developed a system of dividing countries into popular and unpopular nations. Countries such as Great Britain, France, pre-World War One Poland, were into the popular category. On the other hand, countries that he deemed unpopular were Germany, the Soviet Union, post-war Poland, and Hungary.


Kramář was a Russophile and strongly supported the Russian nation, however he developed a strong dislike for Bolshevism. He discouraged Czechoslovakian support of the Soviet Union for several reasons: he was critical of Soviet use of resources for agitation rather than famine relief, and he disapproved of the tactics used by the secret police. Kramář was very disappointed in 1934 when Czechoslovakia established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

Additionally, Kramář saw Bolshevism as a dangerous German creation and believed the Bolsheviks would remain loyal to the German state. He also consistently rejected the idea of centralized production and the utopian vision of a classless society. Despite these objections, Kramář doubted the long-term viability of Bolshevism because he perceived that it did not have the support of a majority of the population and was a system maintained through police state terror. He sincerely hoped that the Soviet Union would collapse during his lifetime.


In addition to blaming the Germans for the rise of Bolshevism, Kramář was critical of Germany for having initiated the First World War and believed that Germany had misused its close relations with Austria-Hungary for its own ends. After the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, Kramář warned against allowing the Germans to revise the treaty, and he criticized the its system of reparations, believing that the Germans must pay all the reparations completely due to the damage done to countries such as France. In 1919 Kramář also warned against the developing relations between Germany and the Soviet Union.


Kramář also strongly disliked the Hungarians. His main reason for contempt was their lack of Slavic roots. He also worried that they would try to revise the Treaty of Trianon
Treaty of Trianon
The Treaty of Trianon was the peace agreement signed in 1920, at the end of World War I, between the Allies of World War I and Hungary . The treaty greatly redefined and reduced Hungary's borders. From its borders before World War I, it lost 72% of its territory, which was reduced from to...

 and that the Habsburgs might try to return to the throne.

Further reading

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