Monday, March 11, 2013

Jan Masaryk

Jan Garrigue Masaryk (14 September 1886 – 10 March 1948) was a Czech diplomat and politician and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1940 to 1948.
Masaryk remained Foreign Minister following the liberation of Czechoslovakia as part of the multi-party, communist-dominated National Front government. The Communists under Klement Gottwald saw their position strengthened after the 1946 elections but Masaryk stayed on as Foreign Minister. He was concerned with retaining the friendship of the Soviet Union, but was dismayed by the veto they put on Czechoslovak participation in the Marshall Plan. In February 1948 the majority of the non-communist cabinet members resigned, hoping to force new elections, but instead a communist government under Gottwald was formed in what became known as the Czech coup (Victorious February in the Eastern Bloc). Masaryk remained Foreign Minister, and was the only prominent minister in the new government who wasn't either a Communist or a fellow traveler. However, he was apparently uncertain about his decision and possibly regretted his decision not to oppose the communist coup by broadcasting to the Czech people on national radio, where he was a much loved celebrity.
On March 10, 1948 Masaryk was found dead, dressed only in his pajamas, in the courtyard of the Foreign Ministry (the Czernin palace in Prague) below his bathroom window. The initial investigation by the Ministry of the Interior stated that he had committed suicide by jumping out of the window, although for a long time it has been believed by some that he was murdered by the nascent Communist government. (There were others in the country who put it thus: "Jan Masaryk was a very tidy man. He was such a tidy man that when he jumped he shut the window after himself") In a second investigation taken in 1968 during the Prague Spring, Masaryk's death was ruled an accident, not excluding a murder and a third investigation in the early 1990s after the Velvet Revolution concluded that it had been a murder.
Discussions about the mysterious circumstances of his death continued for some time. Those who believe that Masaryk was murdered called it the Third Defenestration of Prague, and point to the presence of nail marks on the window sill from which Masaryk fell, as well as smearings of feces and Masaryk's stated intention to leave Prague the next day for London. Members of Masaryk's family—including his former wife, Frances Crane Leatherbee, a former in-law named Sylvia E. Crane, and his sister Alice Masaryková —stated their belief that he had indeed killed himself, according to a letter written by Sylvia E. Crane to The New York Times, and considered the possibility of murder a "cold war cliché". A Prague police report in 2004 concluded after forensic research that Masaryk had indeed been thrown out the window to his death. This report was seemingly corroborated in 2006 when a Russian journalist claimed that his mother knew the Russian intelligence officer who threw Masaryk out the window.
The highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, described his conversation with Nicolae Ceauşescu, who told him about "ten international leaders the Kremlin killed or tried to kill". Jan Masaryk was one of them.


“I helped Lettie wash this forenoon.  This afternoon, I went and helped Frank XXXXXX move his sawmill from Will Harris to the Village.  Very pleasant day but zero weather this morning.”
Leesah

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