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Scope and Content Note
Title: Štefan Osuský papers
Date (inclusive): 1901-1992
Collection Number: 74065
Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Material:
126 manuscript boxes, 3 card file boxes, 4 oversize boxes
(57.0 linear feet)
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.
Hoover Institution Archives
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.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
[Identification of item], Štefan Osuský papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Archives.
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
. 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
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
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
|1889 March 31
||Born in Brezová pod Bradlom, Slovakia
||Emigrated to the United States
||Studied theology in Springfield, Illinois
||Earned a Ph.D. degree in philosophy and psychology from the University of Chicago
||Received his law degree from the University of Chicago and opened his own practice in Chicago
||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"
||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
|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
||Czechoslovak Delegate in the Assembly of the League of Nations
|1921 January - 1940 June
||Czechoslovak Minister Plenipotentiary to France
||Chairman of the Supervisory Commission of the League of Nations
||Awarded the Karlík Prize (the Czechoslovak equivalent of the Nobel prize) for "exceptional services rendered to Czechoslovakia"
||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)
||After the fall of France, Osuský arranged for the transportation to England of several thousands of those troops and fled
|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
||Lectured at Oxford
||Wrote numerous articles about Beneš and his Provisional Government
||Vice-president of the 'Never Again' Association
||Moved to the United States
|1945 September - 1946
||Went on an extensive lecture tour of the United States
||Visiting Professor of European Civilization and Culture at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
||Ran Mid-European Law Project of the National Committee for a Free Europe (reports on changes in communist states)
||Engaged in anti-communist movement activities
||Broadcast for Radio Free Europe and Voice of America
||Co-founder and Chairman (later President) of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia
||Advisor, National Committee for a Free Europe
||Member, International Commission of Jurists
||Founder of the Council of Free Jurists from Countries Behind the Iron Curtain
||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
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--Great Britain.
Czechoslovakia--Politics and government.
Great Britain--Foreign relations--Czechoslovakia.
Prisoners of war.
World War, 1939-1945--Czechoslovakia.
World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons.
World War, 1939-1945.