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Edvard Benes

Edvard Beneš (May 28, 1884 - September 3, 1948) was a leader of the Czechoslovak independence movement and a President of Czechoslovakia.

Since 1912 a teacher at the Charles University of Prague, 1916-1918 a Secretary of the Czechoslovak National Council in Paris and Minister of the Interior and of Foreign Affaires within the Provisional Czechoslovak government, 1918-1935 Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, 1920-1925 and 1929-1935 member of the parliament, since 1921 a professor, 1921-1922 Premier Minister, 1923-1927 member of the UN Security Council (1927-1928 president of its committee), 1935-1938 and 1940-1948 President of Czechoslovakia (1940-1945 in exile).

During World War I, he was one of the leading organizers of an independent Czechoslovakia abroad.

He was a member of the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party and a strong Czechoslovakist.

Beneš became first Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, and in 1935 he succeeded Tomas Masaryk to become President. He resigned from office and went into exile in London in October 1938, just before the Nazi dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. He then (1940) organized the Provisional Government-in-Exile in London led by Jan Sramek, and Benes himself became the President of Czechoslovakia in exile. Although initially oriented to the West, in 1943 he signed the entente between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.

At the end of WWII, he returned to become once more President of Czechoslovakia. Despite his former alliance with Stalin and the Soviets, he resented the Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia, and resigned as President in 1948.

The Benes decrees, which, among other things, expropriated the property of ethnic German and Hungarian Czechoslovakians, and thus laid essential terms for ethnic cleansing by the expulsion of ethnic German to Germany and Austria, were named for him.

See also: Klement Gottwald,History of Czechoslovakia