chapter  5
Czechoslovak Society
WithDavid W. Paul
Pages 25

The world of the twentieth century is composed of many states with varied patterns of ethnic and national populations, and there are few better examples of this than Czechoslovakia. When the country was founded in 1918, it was named for the two major Slavic communities that inhabited most of its territory. Together, Czechs and Slovaks comprise more than 94 percent of Czechoslovakia’s population, with Czechs outnumbering Slovaks by approximately two to one. The First Republic was a crazy quilt of ethnic groups, and only if Czechs and Slovaks were counted together could an ethnic majority be identified within a society that included substantial numbers of Germans, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Jews, Poles, and Gypsies. Religious traditions in the two halves of Czechoslovakia are quite different from each other. The Hussite legacy is a valued part of the Czech national heritage, and despite the forced re-Catholicization of Bohemia during the Counter-Reformation, a “protestant” spirit has permeated Czech religious orientations throughout the ages.