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  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Alternative Form Available
  • Accruals
  • Biography
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Content Note

  • Title: Štefan Osuský papers
    Date (inclusive): 1901-1992
    Collection Number: 74065
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 126 manuscript boxes, 3 card file boxes, 4 oversize boxes (57.0 linear feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, speeches and writings, memoranda, reports, clippings, printed matter, memorabilia, and photographs, relating to Czechoslovak politics and diplomacy, and European diplomatic relations between the two world wars.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Creator: Osuský, Štefan, b. 1889


    Boxes 120-121 restricted; use copies available in Box 102. The remainder of the collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Štefan Osuský papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1974

    Alternative Form Available

    Also available on microfilm (116 reels).


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.


    Štefan Osuský was born on March 31, 1889, in Brezová pod Bradlom, Slovakia, then under the monarchy of Austria-Hungary. After the revolution in 1848, Hungarian became the official language and Slovak schools, books, and newspapers were banned. Osuský's father, who wished his son to receive the best education, sent him in 1902 to Poszona (now Bratislava) to study at a local Hungarian lyceum. Osuský was, however, soon expelled for his Slovak patriotic feelings in an incident that occurred during a visit by the Hungarian minister of education, Count Apponyi.
    Osuský recalls the incident in his biography:
    "In spring of 1905 the minister of education, Count Apponyi, came to the lyceum to pay an inspection visit. He came to our class when we had Latin. Latin was my favorite subject and I was very good in it. . . . After the exam Count Apponyi called me and asked me in Hungarian, "What is your name, young lad?" I answered, "My name is Osuský." "Where are you from?" "From Brezová." He replied: "Brezová, isn't it the nest that breeds all the revolts against Hungarians? You, however, are going to be a good Hungarian!" He didn't ask me whether I'd be a good Hungarian citizen, but simply if I'd be a good Hungarian. I remembered the words of my father's not to mix into politics. . . . I paused a little to think about the best answer. Obviously, I could not agree to be a good Hungarian, I could not even force myself to say anything like that, so I remained silent. Count Apponyi, offended by Osuský's silence, made sure that Osuský was expelled from all the Austrian schools."
    In 1906 Osuský left his native Slovakia and moved to America to pursue his education. He studied theology at Concordia College in Springfield, Illinois, earned his Ph.D. in philosophy and psychology from the University of Chicago, and in 1915 received his law degree and became a co-owner of the company Sinden, Hassal, and Osuský Law Firm in Chicago. He was also active in many Slovak causes. In 1915 he founded and edited the newspapers Slovenské slovo and Slovenský týždenník. In 1916 he was elected vice-president of the Slovak League and sent to Europe to join Thomas Garrigue Masaryk in the fight against Austria-Hungary for the liberation of Czechs and Slovaks. In Geneva, Osuský founded and ran a press agency for the Czechoslovak National Council based in Paris and closely cooperated with George D. Herron, a confidant of American president Woodrow Wilson, who favored self-determination for the peoples of Central Europe. At the beginning of 1918 Osuský helped organize the Czechoslovak legions in Italy, where he met Milan Rastislav Štefánik and, under his influence, became a supporter of a unified Czecho-Slovak nation.
    After the independent Czechoslovak Republic was proclaimed in 1918, Osuský was appointed Czechoslovak envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain. At the same time, as secretary general of the Czechoslovak delegation, he attended the Paris Peace Conference. On June 4, 1920, Edvard Beneš and Štefan Osuský signed the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary. The signing represented not only a final recognition of Czechoslovakia and its borders but also the admission of the new state among other European states and acknowledgment of the Czechs and Slovaks as equal members of the European community. Osuský also played an important role in creating the Little Entente, a protectionist alliance of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania.
    Beginning 1919 Osuský represented Czechoslovakia in the Reparations Commission of the League of Nations, which decided postwar reparations to be made by Germany and its allies; for four years he also represented Yugoslavia, Poland, Romania, and Greece at the commission. The Assembly of the League of Nations elected him chair of the Control Commission, a position he remained in for fourteen years. He participated in a number of international conferences, becoming an experienced and well-informed Czechoslovak diplomat who maintained close personal contacts with political leaders at home and abroad.
    In January 1921 Osuský was appointed Czechoslovak minister plenipotentiary to France; he remained in the position until France fell in 1940. During his stay in Paris, Osuský met many significant European diplomats and politicians. The Paris Legation was important for the Czechoslovak foreign policy because it was on the alliance with France that the international security of the Czechoslovak Republic was built.
    The Munich agreement of 1938--negotiated among Chamberlain, Daladier, Mussolini, and Hitler--and the following occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Hitler's Nazis in March 1939, resulted in the collapse of the first Czechoslovak Republic. Edvard Beneš abdicated and went into exile. Osuský, however, refused to surrender the Czechoslovak Legation to the Nazis and, having maintained his position as Czechoslovak minister, began organizing the Czechoslovak liberation movement. In October 1939 he signed a treaty with the French government regarding the formation of the Czechoslovak army in France; in November he mobilized Czechoslovak expatriates into a national army in France. After the fall of France to the Germans in June 1940, he arranged for the troops to be transferred to England. With the support of the French government, Osuský hoped to be the leader of the Czechoslovak exile movement, but his ambitions clashed with those of Edvard Beneš, who considered himself the leader of the liberation struggle in London. In November 1939 Beneš appointed Osuský as a member of the Czechoslovak National Committee in Paris and, in July 1940, minister to the Czechoslovak government in exile and member of the State Council in London, but their relationship was slowly deteriorating. They totally disagreed about the organization and management of the Czechoslovak exile movement, the position of the Slovaks in the future democratic Czechoslovakia, and Beneš's pro-Soviet political orientation. These tensions culminated in March 1942, when Beneš stripped Osuský of his official posts and excluded him from the Czechoslovak resistance. Osuský wrote a series of articles on Beneš and the Provisional Government; however, he ended up in political isolation.
    Thus, after almost thirty years, Osuský returned to the United States to become a professor of modern European history at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Not until the communist putsch in February 1948, however, did he join the political activities of his fellow Slovaks. In 1949 he cofounded and later served on the Executive Board of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia and held important posts in the Association of Captive European Nations.
    Although Osuský never returned to Czechoslovakia, he followed its development closely. Besides his educational work, he studied Czechoslovak politics and its international relations. He wrote many articles, essays, and studies. His study of the ideological and spiritual conflict between East and West, entitled The Way of the Free, was published in New York, London, Hong Kong and Milan.
    He was the recipient of many international honors, including the Karlík Prize for exceptional services rendered to Czechoslovakia (1934), an honorary degree from the University of Dijon, France (1936), and decorations from Bolivia, Chile, Greece, Luxemburg, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia.
    Osuský was a born diplomat with an excellent educational background. His vision was a united Europe, a Europe without wars, democratic, and at peace. He rejected ideological totalitarianism and the superiority of one nation over another. He devoted his life to the struggle for an equal state of Czechs and Slovaks.
    Osuský died in Herndon, Virginia, on September 1973, at the age of 84; he was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C. The epitaph on his grave reads:
    "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither."


    1889 March 31 Born in Brezová pod Bradlom, Slovakia
    1906 Emigrated to the United States
    1908-1910 Studied theology in Springfield, Illinois
    1914 Earned a Ph.D. degree in philosophy and psychology from the University of Chicago
    1915 Received his law degree from the University of Chicago and opened his own practice in Chicago
    1915 April Chaired a joint meeting of Chicago Czechs and Slovaks and engaged himself zealously in the movement for a Czechoslovak state
    1915 September 23 Appointed Slovak Secretary at the first conference of the Slovak League in Cleveland
    1916 February 22 Elected vice-president at a convocation of the Slovak League in Chicago, and was chosen along with Gustav Košík to travel to Europe in order to influence the Czech National Council established in Paris. Meeting with Edvard Beneš in Paris, Osuský succeeded in changing the organization's name to "National Czecho-Slovak Council"
    1917-1918 Ran the Czechoslovak Information Office in Geneva, Switzerland, writing articles for the Allied press. Met with prominent figures in the national liberation movements, and dealt with German and Austrian agents like Heinrich Lammasch and Frederich Hertz
    1918 September - 1921 January Czechoslovak Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain
    1919 January - 1920 Attended the Paris Peace Conference as Secretary General of the Czechoslovak Delegation, and became a Delegate a few months later. Negotiated and signed his country's peace treaties with Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Was one of the signers of the Treaty of Trianon negotiated between Hungary and the Allied Powers on June 4, 1920
    1919 November - 1932 Czechoslovak representative in the Reparations Commission of the League of Nations. For a period of four years, also represented Greece, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia
    1919-1937 Czechoslovak Delegate in the Assembly of the League of Nations
    1921 January - 1940 June Czechoslovak Minister Plenipotentiary to France
    1923-1937 Chairman of the Supervisory Commission of the League of Nations
    1934 Awarded the Karlík Prize (the Czechoslovak equivalent of the Nobel prize) for "exceptional services rendered to Czechoslovakia"
    1936-1939 Lectured at Charles University in Prague
    1939 March 16 Refused to surrender the Czechoslovak Legation in Paris to the Germans after Hitler's occupation of Prague on March 15, 1939, and succeeded in maintaining his official position as Czechoslovak envoy, although bereft of both government and country
    1939 October 2 Signed a treaty with the French Government regarding the formation/reconstruction of the Czechoslovak Army in France
    1939 November 17 Appointed by Beneš to the newly formed Czechoslovak National Committee in Paris. Issued a mobilization order to Czechoslovak citizens residing in France, which resulted in the formation of two Czechoslovak infantry regiments (these, together with several hundred airmen, constituted a Czechoslovak army on French soil)
    1940 June After the fall of France, Osuský arranged for the transportation to England of several thousands of those troops and fled to London
    1940 July - 1942 March Minister of State of the Czechoslovak Government-in- Exile
    1940 October 12 Appointed member of the State Council in London
    1942 March 31 Removed from his post of Minister of State because of disagreements with Beneš's anti-Slovak and pro-Russian policies
    1942 April 12 Resigned his post in the State Council
    1942 Lectured at Oxford
    1942-1945 Wrote numerous articles about Beneš and his Provisional Government
    1943 Vice-president of the 'Never Again' Association
    1945 September Moved to the United States
    1945 September - 1946 Went on an extensive lecture tour of the United States
    1946-1950 Visiting Professor of European Civilization and Culture at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
    1949-1960 Ran Mid-European Law Project of the National Committee for a Free Europe (reports on changes in communist states)
    1949-1973 Engaged in anti-communist movement activities
      Broadcast for Radio Free Europe and Voice of America
    1949 February Co-founder and Chairman (later President) of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia
    1950-1962 Advisor, National Committee for a Free Europe
    1952-1973 Member, International Commission of Jurists
    1952 November? Founder of the Council of Free Jurists from Countries Behind the Iron Curtain
    1954? Founding member, Association of Captive European Nations
      Member, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
      Chairman, Council of Europe - European Political Community
    1968 February 1921 Judge, Court of World Public Opinion - International Communism on Trial
    1973 September 27 Died, Washington, D.C.

    Scope and Content Note

    The Štefan Osuský papers were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives from his wife and son over a period of several years. The collection was organized shortly after the first installment arrived in 1974. The last increment was given to the Archives in November 1986, at which time the entire collection was processed anew. The present register incorporates material from the original register as well as the rest of the documents that were added to the collection since then.
    The bulk of the collection consists of Osuský's correspondence, speeches and writings, and research notes, as well as of various documents and materials pertaining to Osuský's long career and activity in the anti-communist movement, to Czechoslovakia since World War I, the Czechoslovak government-in-exile during World War II, and post-war émigré affairs.
    Of great importance are Osuský's papers disputing the constitution of the Czechoslovak provisional government in London, Beneš's constitutional presidency, and the role of the State Council (see, in the speeches and writings file, "Londýnské štátné zriadenie," "Dr. Beneš's Authoritative Regime," "Beneš's Government in London," "Legal Position of Dr. Beneš, of the Šrámek Government and the Czechoslovak State Council," "Řízená demokracie při práci"). In his paper "Continuité de l'état tchéchoslovaque," Osuský explains his theory of the continuity of the Czechoslovak state based on the recognition of the Czechoslovak National Committee by the French government.
    Also interesting in that series are Osuský's writings on Beneš himself, in which he criticizes Beneš's 'modus operandi,' his anti-Slovak and pro-Russian policies, and his role in the Munich events that led to the subsequent dismemberment of Czechoslovakia (see, in particular, "Beneš a pravda," "Beneš and Commitment," "Beneš Manipulator," "Benešová vláda a Slováci," "Osuský Notes on Munich," "The Collapse of Czechoslovakia: Events Leading to the Munich Agreement").
    Of special note are also Osuský's numerous writings on Germany, Russia, the Soviet Union, namely "Encirclement of the 'Capitalist Countries' by the Soviets," "Peaceful Co-Existence," "Communist Law and the Soviet Federation of Nations," "Rule of Law Under Communist Regimes," as well as his essays on Europe, Hitler, Stalin, etc.
    Also of significant importance are documents relating to the beginning of the Czechoslovak exile movement in 1939 and 1940, in particular, Osuský's negotiations with the French government officials, which resulted in October of 1939 in the signing of a treaty relating to the reconstruction of the Czechoslovak Army in France, and to the creation of the Czechoslovak National Committee in Paris (see in the career file the original of the agreement "Accord relatif à la reconstitution en France de l'armée tchéchoslovaque").
    In the biographical file are also included legal documents relating to the lawsuits brought by Osuský against Hubert Ripka and Bohuslav Beneš, which demonstrate, among other things, the lack of ability of the Czechoslovak émigré community to stop engaging in bitter personal fights and start to unify and coordinate the activities of Czechoslovak exiles.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    League of Nations.
    Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920)
    Czechoslovakia--Foreign relations--France.
    Czechoslovakia--Foreign relations--Great Britain.
    Czechoslovakia--Politics and government.
    France--Foreign relations--Czechoslovakia.
    Great Britain--Foreign relations--Czechoslovakia.
    Great Britain.
    Prisoners of war.
    World War, 1939-1945--Czechoslovakia.
    World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons.
    World War, 1939-1945.