The end of the First World War saw one of the oldest European empires fall on its knees. Destabilised by internal tensions and overpowered by the Western allied forces, Austria-Hungary lost not only the war, but almost everything it once owned.
The Trianon Treaty, still remembered as the Trianon betrayal by the Hungarians, saw 67% of Hungarian lands and 60% of the Hungarian population taken away to form new nations. The dissolution of the empire secured their long-awaited freedom.
The post-war arrangements created a new country born out of a much older bond. The unification of the Czechs and Slovaks awakened long forgotten memories of a shared history going back one millennium. Czechoslovakia was built on the foundations of the bygone Great Moravia.
Wwould go on to become one of Europe’s and the world’s most progressive and industrially advanced countries. To seal and celebrate the new union, a symbol dating back to Great Moravia was chosen. It was to become the visual embodiment of the new country on the map of Europe.
The Linden tree and its heart-shaped leaf reached deep into the roots of both cultures. The tree, long ago referred to as a microcosm of the universe and bridge between worlds, strengthened the cultural and spiritual ties between the brethren nations. The Lipa tradition has not been shaken since as the Linden remains the national tree of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia today.
Sadly, the Bohemian enchantment was not immune to the destiny of a region situated on the crossroads of civilizations. Post-war destabilization gave rise to new power struggles. Once again, foreign influences were ready to disrupt the peace at the heart of the old continent.
The warning signs of yet another global conflict were at first ignored by many. Europe closed its eyes to the rise of the Third Reich on the doorstep of Czechoslovakia. The young country and her people would pay dearly. Strategically positioned and industrially sophisticated, Czechoslovakia was critical to Hitler’s master plan for global domination.