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Masaryk, Tomás (1850–1937) Czech statesman and philosopher, first president of Czechoslovakia (1918–35). In 1900, he founded the Czech Peoples Party to represent Czech interests in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Masaryk fled at the outbreak of World War I, and (with Eduard Beneš) formed the Czechoslovak National Council. In 1918, he returned as president. Revered as the ‘father of the nation’, Masaryk enacted land reforms and pursued a liberal path on minority rights. Beneš succeeded him.