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Archive shows Masaryk’s declaration of right to independent state

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Prague, May 5 (CTK) – The birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918 is in focus of an exhibition jointly prepared by the three history institutes of the Academy of Sciences, which will also show the original of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk’s first draft declaration on Czechs and Slovaks’ right to an independent state.

Masaryk, who later became the first Czechoslovak president, wrote the document, which later became known as the Washington Declaration, in the USA in the first half of October 1918, assisted by his aides.

The visitors will be able to see the document on the first five days of the exhibition, on May 7-11. Afterwards, it will be returned to the archive for the sake of its safe preservation, and replaced with a copy.

The first draft declaration was handwritten by Masaryk (1850-1937) on eight pages of a smaller size.

“Its preparation was rather demanding, it was drafted by Masaryk in Washington, where more people, mainly his secretary Jaroslav Cisar, helped him shape the formulations,” Dagmar Hajkova, from the National Archive and the Academy of Sciences’ Masaryk Institute, has told CTK.

There is no date, except for October 1918, on the first draft declaration.

October 18, 1918 is usually viewed as the final declaration’s date, but the draft was prepared earlier.

Masaryk’s aides translated the declaration into English, and they also sent the text by wire to Edvard Benes, another founding father of Czechoslovakia and its second president after Masaryk, to Paris.

The text begins with the statement that the Czechs and Slovaks have the natural and historical right to an independent and sovereign state.

From 1526, the two nations were a part of the Habsburg Austrian and later Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The exhibition in the seat of the Academy of Sciences is named 18-18, focusing on the establishment of Czechoslovakia and on ways of celebrating its anniversary in various periods.

It runs through July 20 and will offer tours commented by historians.

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