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Alois Rašín

česká verze

1867 - 1923


Alois Rašín The name  Alois Rašín is used for the medal of the University of Economics Prague that is awarded for merits in the development of this university or for contribution to the development of  economic science and education since 1999. Later Alois Rašín became a symbol of our university.

Rašín was born in 1867 in the region below the Krkonoše Mountains as the ninth child of a provincial baker. After graduating from  university in 1891, he released a publication, Czech State Law, in which he defined his program for the reconstruct of  the Czech state. Two years later he, as one of the leaders of a fabricated secret society Omladina (The Young Ones), was jailed for two years. He served in Bory by Pilsen. After his marriage in 1899 he started his law firm and during the following years he acquired varied experience as an economic journalist, a member of the leaders of the Young Czech Party and a member of parliament of the Council of the Empire. During the World War in summer 1915 he was arrested together with Kramář, and a year later he was condemned to death because of his resistance against the Hapsburgs. In  prison he was active, read intensively, and wrote the research paper, National Economy. In summer of 1917 he was awarded amnesty by the new emperor and set at large. During the following months he became one of the main leaders of the preparations and proclamation of the CSR, in the conditions of the post-war economic disintegration and great inflation, in the atmosphere of strong arguments about social and political reform of the state and the course of its economic policy. On 16th November 1917 Rašín took over the ministry building and consequently began to establish the ministry and started its work. Firstly, he began to constitute the system of monetary policy of the new state and to prepare the secret operation of economic and monetary independence of the nascent republic. After three months of preparation, he carried out the whole operation of stamping  Austrian banknotes within seven days at the beginning of March  1919. Thanks to his firmness and exceptional organizational abilities, it was done promptly and without any problems. Concurrently an inventory of the property of  the inhabitants was made so property taxes could be introduced.. A month later he secured the production of the first  Czechoslovak banknotes. A month after that he presented the first state budget to the parliament. Moreover, these all were done within half a year.  He did not lose influence on the course of public events even after his withdrawal from government, when his party (the Czechoslovak National Democratic Party) lost in the regional elections and became an opposition party. Towards the end of 1921 he in fact took one of key positions in the state as a member of the four-member board of the Trade Bank and the so-called Five, a board of members of representatives of Czech political parties that decided fundamental political and economic issues. On 7 October 1922 he became the minister of finance for the second time, in Švehla´s government. It was at the time when social tension was growing and Rašín's popularity rapidly fell. Despite  this fact he insisted on maximum stringency of public expenditures and in the private sector in order to maintain currency value. He became the subject of sharp criticism to which he responded in the same manner. In this atmosphere his life was finished before its time because of a nineteen-year-old insurance clerk, the anarchist Šoupal. He died from the wounds of the assassination at the age of 55.

How was Alois Rašín's work accepted and assessed? First Rašín's biographer, the journalist Penízek, wrote that all Rašín's activities are conveyed in the following words (rhymes in Czech: bořil, tvořil, spořil): he was destroying, building, and  saving up. Rašín was a typical liberalist who based his ideas on individualism in politics and economic life. Czech professor Vencovský, a prominent specialist in the history of  Czech economic thought wrote: Alois Rašín as a scientist did not enter  Czech economic thought as a theoretically-oriented creative figure, but as an energetic politician and a intransigent economist, who managed to apply  fundamental theoretical knowledge in complex and often conflict situations. 
Rasin's multi-layered activity and personality is aptly shown  by Lockhart, a British diplomat who worked at that time in Prague: As a minister of finance in the New Republic, Rašín was head and shoulders above other ministers of finance in Central Europe, a giant among Lilliputians. In his policy he was a Francophile, but admired England and its financial methods very much. He occupied himself adjusting expenditures and incomes, and to inculcate his fellow compatriots with economics in order to cover all deficits by taxes not by loans. As the historian Lacina aptly remarked about Rašín in his work: He is a compelling and a strong, nevertheless a controversial and complicated, personality and it is hard to understand his fibre. Peroutka stressed how "Rašín was able to follow his ideas. He was a man of great feeling and he managed to present the financial issue as a part of the fate of the nation." Engliš, in his memories of Rašín, wrote: It was not the aims, nor the views that we disagreed about with Rašín, but it was the methods. Rašín was entirely more radical and revolutionary. He reformed the currency straightforwardly; he wanted to solve the problems of the war loans of the municipalities by crisis. There is no doubt that in crisis there are a lot of strengthening elements and such straightforwardness is easier and generally more understandable. Rašín was dauntless and not afraid of any crisis; he looked into the future. In the encyclopaedia of economics from 1933 it is written: Rašín's financial plans were above the horizon of current needs and interests and they prepared the economic future of the new state in time. The historical credits of Alois Rašín such as his unusual approaches towards more complex societal problems, and his discussions with his opponents remain a rich and inspiring source  of study. They also  serve as a source of information and  warning for today.

Mgr. Vladimír Seidl

On this page there can be found the following from the works of A. Rašín:

Speeches of the Minister of Finance Alois Rašín On Transitory Economy. Praha, 1918
My Financial Plan. Praha, 1920
National Economy. Praha, 1922
Inflation and Deflation. Praha, 1922
Financial and Economic Policy up to the End of 1921. Praha, 1922
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