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Prior to the advent of World War II, no pavilion received a more sympathetic response than Czechoslovakia's. On October 9, 1938, The New York Times' editors exclaimed: "There is something still indomitable about the Czechs and the Chinese, the two underdogs in this present bull-pit of nations we call the world. Both are deserted by their friends. Yet both will proudly take their places in our Hall of Nations with exhibits uncurtailed by their current troubles." (China eventually withdrew from the fair.)

Initial plans called for a $400,000 structure with 60,000 feet of floor space.

Following the enforcement of the Munich agreement, allowing the annexation of major Czech land areas by Germany, the world's fair held an exhibit contract with a country that no longer existed.

The pavilion's original exhibit director, Bohuelar Soumar, arrived in New York in mid-March, 1939, intent on opening the unfinished pavilion. "I do not know what will happen but I am going to continue with my work until I am ordered to stop." The New York Times lamented: "It was begun as an exhibit of a free and proud republic. Now it stands for a nation in chains."

Within days word arrived from the "protectors" of Czechoslovakia – the pavilion could proceed with local support, only if it contained no anti- Nazi propaganda. The German government even offered to forego the use of the swastika in the pavilion.

Two days later Mayor LaGuardia met with the Czechoslovakian ambassador to the United States to discuss the pavilion's future. Vladimir Hurban, the Czech minister, had defiantly informed the Nazi controlled government he would not recognize their puppet president and would retain control of the Czechoslovakian embassy in Washington.

In early April Grover Whalen received a telegram from Oldrich Vasticka, the Minister of Public Works in Prague, announcing the Nazi government had changed its mind. "Pavilion will not be opened. Negotiate through German Embassy for sale or rent of pavilion. Do not proceed with construction for exhibits." The gauntlet was down.

With less than a month before the fair's April 30th opening, a determined movement organized to complete the Czechoslovakian pavilion. If funds could be raised, the organizers held the trump card over the Hitler dominated government in Prague. Before leaving office, the republic's former president Eduard Benes sent twenty carloads of exhibits and materials to the United States. The New York Times exalted "One bit of Nazi arrogance is decisively squelched." Hitler fumed!

On April 12, Mayor La Guardia announced the formation of the "Committee for Czecho-Slovak Participation in the World's Fair." Headed by Dr. John H. Finley, editor emeritus of The New York Times, the committee hoped to raise enough money to fund the pavilion. The mayor said: "The purpose of the exhibit at the Fair is to show the progress made by the independent republic of Czecho-Slovakia – up to the period of the 'interruption.'" In other words, the Czech exhibit would become a tangible reproach to Adolph Hitler and his policies.

The appeal issued to friends of the dismantled republic urged: "Last month the invader broke promises he himself had freely given and annexed the whole country in order to commandeer its immense munitions works. It is beyond our power as individuals to right the wrong that has been done, but one small thing we can do. We can complete the Czecho-Slovak Pavilion at the World's Fair as a stirring reminder of this industry, the artistic spirit, the humanitarian principles of that sturdy race."

The committee set a goal of $35,000. To aid in the fund raising, a former Czech official who brought half-a-dozen original drawings by Adolph Hitler to New York donated them to the committee. By mid-July, Mayor LaGuardia announced donations exceeded the goal by $2,020, including a "sizable check" from Eleanor Roosevelt. The committee disbanded.

However, due to the committee's late start at fund raising, the pavilion remained closed on April 30, the fair's opening day. Curious visitors peered through the unfinished pavilion's tinted windows at unpacked crates marked with familiar Prague industrial names. Others paused briefly as they passed by, lowering their voice reverently. The Times' editors eulogized: "In addition to all the eloquent speaking at the opening of the World's Fair, there was a silent speech made by the unopened Czecho-Slovak Pavilion. It tells of the aggression which had intercepted such exhibit of Czecho-Slovak industry, art and education."

Finally on May 30 a fifteen-gun salute from the Camp George Washington artillery located on the fairgrounds announced the pavilion's official opening. The still defiant Ambassador Hurban proclaimed the pavilion symbolized the Czecho-Slovakia of yesterday and tomorrow."

When Dr. Eduard Benes, the republic's former president rose to speak, Mayor La Guardia jumped to his feet, leading sustained applause. Dr. Benes noted: The dictatorial regime can rule the country temporarily but it cannot kill the spirit of the people who in twenty years have accomplished through freedom and democracy what many other nations of Europe have succeeded in accomplishing only after much longer periods."

After thanking the good people of New York for their hard work and contributions allowing the pavilion to open, Mayor La Guardia, to great laughter, jabbed at his arch advisory in Germany: "Seemingly people are talking about history who have never read history."

The New York Times exalted: "The capital of Czech freedom is now on Flushing Meadows. It will be again in Prague." The red, white and blue Czech flag flew at half- staff throughout the rest of the summer.

The New York Post with its editorial tongue partially in its cheek declared: "If Adolf Hitler were to visit the Fair – but he isn't expected – he would find right inside the door of the Czecho-Slovak State Hall a statue of his ultimate conqueror. The name is Chronos – the God of Time.

In early September a grateful, now former ambassador Vladimir Hurban presented Mayor La Guardia with a medal honoring his assistance in completing and maintaining the Czech pavilion. Designed by Mario Korbel, the medal depicted a Czech peasant lashed to two upright columns decorated with swastikas. "Czecho -Slovakia shall be free again" appeared on the medal's bottom.

A costumed young female hostess at the pavilion reported four of every five sympathetic visitors asked "When will you kick Hitler out?" Employees remained cautious in any reply as there always seemed to be a noticeable number of pictures being taken within the pavilion's precincts. Stanley Kudrna, an employee from the time of the pavilion's conception, revealed the general consensus among the Czech workers that these sightseers snapping pictures were actually a part of Germany's far flung espionage net.

Perhaps, most telling and reassuring in the heightened international atmosphere of the times, as visitors left the pavilion; they encountered the republic's motto "Truth Prevails."