Karel Kramář

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Karel Kramář
Karel Kramář.jpg
1st Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia
In office
14 November 1918 – 8 July 1919
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Vlastimil Tusar
Personal details
Born (1860-12-27)27 December 1860
Vysoké nad Jizerou, Austrian Empire
Died 26 May 1937(1937-05-26) (aged 76)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Political party Young Czech Party, National Democratic Party
Occupation Politician
Religion Eastern Orthodox

Karel Kramář (27 December 1860 – 26 May 1937) was a Czech (Bohemian) politician. During his time as representative in the Austrian-Hungarian Reichstag (Imperial Council) from 1891 to 1915 he was known as Dr. Karl Kramarsch. He was born in Vysoké nad Jizerou, near the northern border of what is now the Czech Republic, into a well to do family. He was very talented and spoke at least half a dozen languages fluently, that allowed him to make many valuable contacts on an international scale all through Europe and even America. He studied law, obtaining a doctor degree. He married a Russian socialite, Naděžda Abrikosová, establishing many bonds there.


He became the leader of the Young Czech Party in Austria-Hungary and later of the National Democratic Party in Czechoslovakia.Even before the First World War his goal was to create an independent Czechoslovakia and he lobbied for this on a worldwide basis. In 1914, at the beginning of World War I he resigned his leadership of the Young Czech party supposedly because the party drifted toward a more nationalistic and oppositional stance, more probably to reduce his profile to the authorities. A liberal nationalist with close ties to the political elite in Prague and Vienna, Kramář pursued a policy of cooperation with the Austrian state as the best means of achieving Czech national goals before the First World War, even as he favored closer ties between the Czechs and the Russian Empire. His commitment to this policy of cooperation with the Austrian government ("positive politics" in the parlance of the day) led him to resign his leadership of the Young Czech party in 1914 as the party drifted toward a more nationalist and oppositional stance. During the First World War the Austrian authorities charged Kramář with treason, tried him and ultimately sentenced him to 15 years of hard labour. His imprisonment acted however to galvanise Czech nationalist opinion against the Austrian state. The new Emperor Karl I released Kramář as part of a general political amnesty in 1917.

Formerly a close associate of Tomáš Masaryk, later the first president of Czechoslovakia, Kramář and Masaryk were barely on speaking terms by 1914. Kramář, as the most prominent politician in Czechoslovakia, was named the country's first prime minister (14 November 1918 – 8 July 1919), much to the displeasure of Masaryk. Kramář, a strong Russophile who was married to a Russian, subsequently represented Czechoslovakia at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 but later resigned over Foreign Minister Edvard Beneš's failure to support anti-Bolshevik White forces in Russia.

Following the first general election in Czechoslovakia, Kramář's party, now the National Democratic party, became a minor player in the various interwar governments of the new state. Later, Kramář worked together with Jiří Stříbrný and František Mareš in the National Union (Národní sjednocení).

In May 1919, an anarchist named Alois Šťastný made an unsuccessful attempt to kill Kramář.

Foreign policy[edit]

During his time in the National Assembly (1918–1937), Kramář worked in the Committee for Foreign Affairs and made many speeches on foreign policy. Kramář developed a system of dividing countries into popular and unpopular nations. Countries such as Great Britain, France, pre-World War One Poland, were into the popular category. On the other hand, countries that he deemed unpopular were Germany, the Soviet Union, post-war Poland, and Hungary.[1]


Kramář was a Russophile and strongly supported the Russian nation, however he developed a strong dislike for Bolshevism. He discouraged Czechoslovakian support of the Soviet Union for several reasons: he was critical of Soviet use of resources for agitation rather than famine relief, and he disapproved of the tactics used by the secret police. Kramář was very disappointed in 1934 when Czechoslovakia established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.[citation needed]

Additionally, Kramář saw Bolshevism as a dangerous German creation and believed the Bolsheviks would remain loyal to the German state. He also consistently rejected the idea of centralized production and the utopian vision of a classless society. Despite these objections, Kramář doubted the long-term viability of Bolshevism because he perceived that it did not have the support of a majority of the population and was a system maintained through police state terror. He sincerely hoped that the Soviet Union would collapse during his lifetime.[2]


In addition to blaming the Germans for the rise of Bolshevism, Kramář was critical of Germany for having initiated the First World War and believed that Germany had misused its close relations with Austria-Hungary for its own ends. After the Treaty of Versailles, Kramář warned against allowing the Germans to revise the treaty, and he criticized the its system of reparations, believing that the Germans must pay all the reparations completely due to the damage done to countries such as France. In 1919 Kramář also warned against the developing relations between Germany and the Soviet Union.[citation needed]


Kramář also strongly disliked the Hungarians. His main reason for contempt was their lack of Slavic roots. He also worried that they would try to revise the Treaty of Trianon and that the Habsburgs might try to return to the throne.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Georgiev, J., Kysela, J. (ed.): Kapitoly z dějin stavovského a parlamentního zřízení (Chapters from the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions), Praha 2004, s. 149 – 169 – vyšlo v roce 2005.
  2. ^ Georgiev, J., Kysela, J. (ed.): Kapitoly z dějin stavovského a parlamentního zřízení (Chapters from the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions), Praha 2004, s. 149 – 169 – vyšlo v roce 2005.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Lustigová, Martina (2007). Karel Kramář, první československý premiér. Praha: Vyšehrad. ISBN 978-80-7021-898-3.