Department

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree

Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)

Chair

David L Snead

Keywords

Czechoslovakia, Diplomacy, George Kennan, Munich Agreement, Prague, World War II

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Diplomatic History | European History | History | United States History

Abstract

Between 1918 and 1938, the United States and Czechoslovakia maintained unique, friendly, and special diplomatic relations. This was mainly due to the two countries’ shared commitment to liberal, democratic values. In 1938, however, Hitler’s aggressive foreign policy came to a head in the form of the Munich Agreement, which not only set Czechoslovakia on a course of destruction but also fundamentally transformed the nature of U.S.-Czechoslovak relations. This study seeks to unpack the development of U.S.-Czechoslovak relations in the eleven months between Munich (October 1938) and the start of World War II (September 1939). During this time, the friendly ties between Washington D.C. and Prague ultimately proved impotent as the United States could do nothing to prevent Czechoslovakia’s dismemberment and erasure from the map. Thus, American ambassadors serving in Prague, as well as State Department officials in Washington D.C., remained only passive observers to Czechoslovakia’s gradual disintegration. Looking primarily through the lenses of American diplomats Wilbur J. Carr and George F. Kennan, this study exposes the limitations of diplomacy and the difficulties inherent to balancing sympathy with the cold, hard realities of geopolitics.

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