Jan Masaryk

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Jan Masaryk

Masaryk, Jan (14 September 1886 - 10 March 1948)

Jan, the son of Tomás Masaryk, followed in his father’s political footsteps. During World War II, he became foreign minister of the Czech government-in-exile, continuing until 1945, at which time and shortly after the Communist coup in 1948 he committed suicide.

Masaryk's father was a professor of philosophy, and his mother was an American. His parents sent him to the United States but did not forsee that he

  • would earn a living from his piano-playing abilities when he sent him to the United States in 1904 with a gift of $100. The sum quickly disappeared in the hands of the reckless Masaryk, and he found work as a pianist in a movie house in New York City. He later worked at a brass foundry in Connecticut, among several other jobs during his decade abroad. Though he was reportedly fond of gambling and attractive women, Masaryk had a serious side to him as well. When he worked in the foundry, he held English literacy classes for his co-workers, who came from a variety of European backgrounds. He later reported that this was his greatest training for a diplomatic career.

From 1924 until their divorce, he was married to Frances Crane Leatherbee, heiress to the Crane plumbing and elevator fortune. In 1931 he married Mary Lee Logan. At the time of his death he reportedly planned to marry the American writer Marcia Davenport.

His death, for he leaped from a window and the news media publicized the event, was alleged to have been his final act of defying the Communists. Others allege he was killed. Masaryk was a Unitarian.

{CE; JM; UU}