Kramař, Charles

Kramař, Charles or Karel käˈrĕl kräˈmärsh [key], 1860–1937, Czechoslovakian political leader. Elected (1891) to the Austrian parliament, Kramař soon became leader of the liberal nationalist Young Czech party. An ardent Slavophile, he called (1898) for an alliance of Austria-Hungary and Russia against the Germans, whom he regarded as the implacable enemy of all Slavs. He publicly advocated Czech autonomy within the Austrian Empire but privately favored an independent Czech state within a Russian-led Slavic federation. In World War I he led the resistance movement of the Czech nationalists at home, while Thomas G. Masaryk and Eduard Beneš led it abroad. He received a death sentence (1916) for treason, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. An amnesty (1917) brought about his release. On Oct. 28, 1918, Kramař led a bloodless coup in Prague, making Czech independence from Austria a reality. He was (1918–19) the first premier of the new state under President Masaryk, but was forced to resign as a result of his opposition to land reform and other progressive measures. After 1919 he led a rightist minority against Masaryk and Beneš.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Czech and Slovak History: Biographies