Masaryk, Jan Garrigue°

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MASARYK, JAN GARRIGUE ° (1886–1948), Czechoslovak diplomat and statesman, son of president Thomas G. *Masaryk. From 1925 to 1938 Masaryk was his country's envoy in London, but resigned after the Munich Pact (Sept. 30, 1938), which compelled Czechoslovakia to give up the Sudetenland. In 1940 he was appointed foreign minister of the Czechoslovak exile government in London and retained the post after Czechoslovakia's liberation in 1945 and after the Communist takeover on Feb. 25, 1948. On March 10, 1948, his corpse was found beneath the window of the Czernin Palace in Prague, in which the Foreign Ministry was situated. It is still controversial whether he was murdered for political reasons or committed suicide. During his stay in London he formed ties of friendship with Chaim *Weizmann and became an ardent supporter of Zionism. He fought against antisemitism during and after the Nazi period. In one of his speeches, Masaryk stated: "Every antisemite is a potential murderer whose place is in prison." Due to his intervention, Czechoslovakia allowed the Jewish refugees of the *Berihah to cross its territory and actively supported the proposal to establish a Jewish state. He believed that "to establish a Jewish state is one of the greatest political ideas of our time." In the years of Israel's War of Independence (1948–49) Masaryk assisted in arranging the export of Czechoslovak weapons to the struggling state. The Mauser rifles with the Czech lion were known as "Czech rifles" and played an important part in the defense and conquest of the Jewish part of Jerusalem and other localities where critical fighting took place.


V. Fischl (Avigdor Dagan), Hovory s Janem Masarykem (1952); Ch. Weizmann, Trial and Error (1949), index.

[Chaim Yahil /

Yeshayahu Jelinek (2nd ed.)]