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Edvard Beneš and the National Minorities in Czechoslovakia between the Paris Peace Conference and the Munich Agreement: Conception, Foreign and Domestic Policies

The object of this project, which is sponsored by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), is to compile a monograph on Edvard Beneš’s nationalities policy. The focus lies on his domestic policy, but the context of his foreign policy during the First Czechoslovak Republic is also taken into account intensively. A central question concerns the relation between the political theories of Beneš as a sociologist, who, even before World War I, had concerned himself with questions regarding minorities, and his political practice as the Foreign Secretary of Czechoslovakia (1918-1935), Head of Government (1921/22) and President (1935-1938). Secondly, Beneš’s political concepts and strategies which are directed towards nationalities are reconstructed in the dual perspective of foreign and domestic policies. In accordance with Rogers Brubaker’s approach, who sees a triangular relationship between the nationalising state, national minorities and the external home/native country, a comparative analysis is to be undertaken examining the interrelation between foreign and domestic policies (concerning all national minorities such as Germans, Hungarians, Rusyns and Poles) towards the home countries of these minorities but also on the level of the League of Nations. The central question here concerns itself with Beneš’s actions as a leading protagonist of a ‚nationalising national state’. However, Beneš’s ‚inner’ as well as ‚external’ nationalities policy was, to a large degree, influenced and/or impeded by domestic political affairs and conflicts. Thus, the conditions, continuities and modifications of this policy are to be more precisely placed within the framework of the domestic political life in Czechoslovakia than this has occurred to date. The third important question to be examined in this context concerns the relationship between politics and the general public, i.e. the foreign and domestic justification and communication of this policy.

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