Czechoslovak Socialist Republic

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Czechoslovak Republic (19481960)
Československá republika

Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (19601990)
Československá socialistická republika

1948–1990
Motto:  Pravda vítězí / Pravda víťazí
"Truth prevails"
Anthem:  Kde domov můj   (Czech)
"Where is my home"

Nad Tatrou sa blýska   (Slovak)
(English: "Lightning Over the Tatras")
Czechoslovakia 1956-1990.svg
StatusMember of the Warsaw Pact (1955–1989)
Satellite state of the Soviet Union
Capital Prague
Common languages Czech
Slovak
Government Unitary people's republic (1948–60)
Unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic (1960–69)
Federal Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist republic (1969–89)
President  
 1948–1953
Klement Gottwald (first)
 1989–1990
Václav Havel (last)
General Secretary  
 1948–1953
Klement Gottwald (first)
 1989
Karel Urbánek (last)
Prime Minister  
 1948–1953
Antonín Zápotocký (first)
 1988–1989
Ladislav Adamec (last)
Historical era Cold War
25 February 1948
9 May 1948
11 July 1960
  CSFR established
23 April 1990
Area
1985127,900 km2 (49,400 sq mi)
Population
 1985
15,498,168
Currency Czechoslovak koruna
Calling code42
Internet TLD .cs
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Third Czechoslovak Republic
Czech and Slovak Federative Republic Flag of the Czech Republic.svg
Today part ofFlag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia
Formerly:
Czechoslovak Republic
Československá republika
(1948–1960)

The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Czech and Slovak : Československá socialistická republika, ČSSR) was the name of Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 23 April 1990, when the country was under communist rule. Formally known as the Fourth Czechoslovak Republic, it has been regarded as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. [1]

Czech language West Slavic language spoken in the Czech Republic

Czech, historically also Bohemian, is a West Slavic language of the Czech–Slovak group. Spoken by over 10 million people, it serves as the official language of the Czech Republic. Czech is closely related to Slovak, to the point of mutual intelligibility to a very high degree. Like other Slavic languages, Czech is a fusional language with a rich system of morphology and relatively flexible word order. Its vocabulary has been extensively influenced by Latin and German.

Slovak language language spoken in Slovakia

Slovak or less frequently Slovakian is a West Slavic language. It is called slovenský jazyk or slovenčina in the language itself.

Czechoslovakia 1918–1992 country in Central Europe, predecessor of the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia, was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.

Contents

Following the coup d'état of February 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized power with the support of the Soviet Union, the country was declared a people's republic after the Ninth-of-May Constitution became effective. The traditional name Československá republika (Czechoslovak Republic) was changed on 11 July 1960 following implementation of the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia as a symbol of the "final victory of socialism" in the country, and remained so until the Velvet Revolution in November 1989. Several other state symbols were changed in 1960. Shortly after the Velvet Revolution, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was renamed to the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic.

1948 Czechoslovak coup détat 1948 coup in Czechoslovakia

The 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état – in the Communist era known as "Victorious February" – was an event late that February in which the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, assumed undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of communist rule in the country.

Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Political party in Czechoslovakia

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was a Communist and Marxist–Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992. It was a member of the Comintern. Between 1929 and 1953 it was led by Klement Gottwald. After its election victory in 1946 it seized power in the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état and established a one-party state allied with the Soviet Union. Nationalization of virtually all private enterprises followed.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Name

The official name of the country was the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Conventional wisdom suggested that it would be known as simply the "Czechoslovak Republic"—its official name from 1920-1938 and from 1945-1960. However, Slovak politicians felt this diminished Slovakia's equal stature, and demanded that the country's name be spelled with a hyphen (i.e. "Czecho-Slovak Republic"), as it was spelled from Czechoslovak independence in 1918 until 1920, and again in 1938 and 1939. President Havel then changed his proposal to "Republic of Czecho-Slovakia"—a proposal that did not sit well with Czech politicians who saw reminders of the 1938 Munich Agreement, in which Nazi Germany annexed a part of that territory. The name also means "Land of the Czechs and Slovaks" while Latinised from the country's original name "the Czechoslovak Nation" [2]  upon independence in 1918, from the Czech endonym Češi via its Polish orthography [3]

Slovakia Republic in Central Europe

Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) and is mostly mountainous. The population is over 5.4 million and consists mostly of Slovaks. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, and the second-largest city is Košice. The official language is Slovak.

The hyphen () is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. Non-hyphenated is an example of a hyphenated word. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes, which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign (−), which is also longer in some contexts.

Munich Agreement 1938 cession of German-speaking Czechoslovakia to the Nazis

The Munich Agreement or Munich Betrayal was an agreement concluded at Munich on 30 September 1938, by Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. It provided "cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory" of Czechoslovakia. Most of Europe celebrated because it prevented the war threatened by Adolf Hitler by allowing Nazi Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland, a region of western Czechoslovakia inhabited by more than 3 million people, mainly German speakers. Hitler announced it was his last territorial claim in Europe, and the choice seemed to be between war and appeasement.

The name "Czech" derives from the Czech endonym Češi via Polish, [3] from the archaic Czech Čechové, originally the name of the West Slavic tribe whose Přemyslid dynasty subdued its neighbors in Bohemia around AD 900. Its further etymology is disputed. The traditional etymology derives it from an eponymous leader Čech who led the tribe into Bohemia. Modern theories consider it an obscure derivative, e.g. from četa, a medieval military unit. [4] Meanwhile, the name "Slovak" was taken from the Slavic "Slavs" as the origin of the word Slav itself remains uncertain.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

West Slavs group of Slavic peoples speaking the West Slavic languages (Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, Sorbs, Kashubians, Moravians, Silesians), separating from the common Slavic group around the 7th century in Central Europe

The West Slavs are a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the West Slavic languages. They separated from the common Slavic group around the 7th century, and established independent polities in Central Europe by the 8th to 9th centuries. The West Slavic languages diversified into their historically attested forms over the 10th to 14th centuries.

Přemyslid dynasty dynasty

The Přemyslid dynasty or House of Přemyslid was a Czech royal dynasty which reigned in the Duchy of Bohemia and later Kingdom of Bohemia and Margraviate of Moravia, as well as in parts of Poland, Hungary, and Austria.

During the state's existence, it was simply referred to "Czechoslovakia" or sometimes the "CSSR" and "CSR" in short.

History

Background

Before the Soviet liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945, Edvard Beneš, the Czechoslovak leader, agreed to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's demands for unconditional agreement with Soviet foreign policy and the Beneš decrees. [5] While Beneš was not a Moscow cadre and several domestic reforms of other Eastern Bloc countries were not part of Beneš' plan, Stalin did not object because the plan included property expropriation and he was satisfied with the relative strength of communists in Czechoslovakia compared to other Eastern Bloc countries. [5]

Prague Offensive last major Soviet operation of WWII in Europe

The Prague Offensive was the last major military operation of World War II in Europe. The offensive was fought on the Eastern Front from 6 May to 11 May 1945. Fought concurrently with the Prague uprising, the offensive was one of the last engagements of World War II in Europe and continued after Nazi Germany's unconditional capitulation on 8 May.

Edvard Beneš 20th-century Czechoslovak politician

Edvard Beneš, sometimes anglicised to Edward Benesh, was a Czech politician and statesman who was President of Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938 and again from 1945 to 1948. He also led the Czechoslovak government-in-exile 1939 to 1945, during World War II. As President, Beneš faced two major crises which both resulted in his resignation.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet politician who led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1953) and Premier (1941–1953). Initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, by the 1930s he was the country's de facto dictator. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin formalised these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies are known as Stalinism.

In April 1945, the Third Republic was formed, led by a National Front of six parties. Because of the Communist Party's strength and Beneš's loyalty, unlike in other Central and Eastern European countries, the Kremlin did not require Eastern Bloc politics or "reliable" cadres in Czechoslovak power positions, and the executive and legislative branches retained their traditional structures. [6] The Communists were the big winners in the 1946 elections, taking a total of 114 seats (they ran a separate list in Slovakia). Not only was this the only time a Communist Party won a free election anywhere in Europe during the Cold War era, but it was one of only two free elections ever held in the Soviet bloc.[ citation needed ] Klement Gottwald, leader of the KSČ, became Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia.

National Front (Czechoslovakia) coalition of parties which headed the re-established Czechoslovakian government from 1945 to 1948

The National Front was the coalition of parties which headed the re-established Czechoslovakian government from 1945 to 1948. During the Communist era in Czechoslovakia (1948–1989) it was the vehicle for control of all political and social activity by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). It was also known in English as the National Front of Czechs and Slovaks.

Central and Eastern Europe Geographic region in Europe

Central and Eastern Europe, abbreviated CEE, is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Southeastern Europe (Balkans), usually meaning former communist states from the Eastern Bloc in Europe. Scholarly literature often uses the abbreviations CEE or CEEC for this term. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also uses the term "Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs)" for a group comprising some of these countries.

Eastern Bloc politics

Eastern Bloc politics followed the Red Army's occupation of much of eastern Europe at the end of World War II and the Soviet Union's installation of Soviet-controlled Stalinist or Marxist–Leninist governments in the Eastern Bloc through a process of bloc politics and repression. The resulting governments contained vestiges of western democracies to initially conceal the process.

However, thereafter, the Soviet Union was disappointed that the government failed to eliminate "bourgeois" influence in the army, expropriate industrialists and large landowners and eliminate parties outside of the "National Front". [7] Hope in Moscow was waning for a Communist victory in the 1948 elections following a May 1947 Kremlin report concluded that "reactionary elements" praising Western democracy had strengthened. [8]

Following Czechoslovakia's brief consideration of taking Marshall Plan funds, [9] and the subsequent scolding of Communist parties by the Cominform at Szklarska Poręba in September 1947, Rudolf Slánský returned to Prague with a plan for the final seizure of power, including the StB's elimination of party enemies and purging of dissidents. [10] Thereafter, Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin arranged a communist coup d'état, followed by the occupation of non-Communist ministers' ministries, while the army was confined to barracks. [11]

Pro-Communist demonstrations before the coup d'etat in 1948 Agitace-1947.jpg
Pro-Communist demonstrations before the coup d'état in 1948

On 25 February 1948, Beneš, fearful of civil war and Soviet intervention, capitulated and appointed a Communist-dominated government who was sworn in two days later. Although members of the other National Front parties still nominally figured, this was, for all intents and purposes, the start of out-and-out Communist rule in the country. [12] [13] [14] Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, the only prominent Minister still left who wasn't either a Communist or fellow traveler, was found dead two weeks later. [15] On 30 May, a single list of candidates from the National Front—now an organization dominated by the Communist Party—was elected to the National Assembly.

After passage of the Ninth-of-May Constitution on 9 June 1948, the country became a People's Republic until 1960. Although it was not a completely Communist document, it was close enough to the Soviet model that Beneš refused to sign it. He'd resigned a week before it was finally ratified, and died in September. The Ninth-of-May Constitution confirmed that the KSČ possessed absolute power, as other Communist parties had in the Eastern Bloc. On 11 July 1960, the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia was promulgated, changing the name of the country from the "Czechoslovak Republic" to the "Czechoslovak Socialist Republic".

1960-1990

Czechoslovakia in 1969. Czechoslovakia.png
Czechoslovakia in 1969.

With the exception of the Prague Spring in the late-1960s, Czechoslovakia was characterized by the absence of democracy and competitiveness of its Western European counterparts as part of the Cold War. In 1969, the country became a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic.

Under the federation, social and economic inequities between the Czech and Slovak halves of the country were largely eliminated. A number of ministries, such as Education, were formally transferred to the two republics. However, the centralized political control by the Communist Party severely limited the effects of federalization.

The 1970s saw the rise of the dissident movement in Czechoslovakia, represented (among others) by Václav Havel. The movement sought greater political participation and expression in the face of official disapproval, making itself felt by limits on work activities (up to a ban on any professional employment and refusal of higher education to the dissident's children), police harassment and even prison time.

In late 1989, the country became a democracy again through the Velvet Revolution. In 1992, the Federal Assembly decided it would split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.

Geography

The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was bounded on the West by West Germany and East Germany, on the North by Poland, on the East by the Soviet Union (via the Ukrainian SSR) and on the South by Hungary and Austria.

Politics

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) led initially by First Secretary Klement Gottwald, held a monopoly on politics. Following the 1948 Tito-Stalin split and the Berlin Blockade, increased party purges occurred throughout the Eastern Bloc, including a purge of 550,000 party members of the KSČ, which comprised 30% of its members. [16] [17] Approximately 130,000 people were sent to prisons, labor camps and mines. [17]

The evolution of the resulting harshness of purges in Czechoslovakia, like much of its history after 1948, was a function of the late takeover by the communists, with many of the purges focusing on the sizable numbers of party members with prior memberships in other parties. [18] The purges accompanied various show trials, including those of Rudolf Slánský, Vladimír Clementis, Ladislav Novomeský and Gustáv Husák (Clementis was later executed). [16] Slánský and eleven others were convicted together of being "Trotskyist-zionist-titoist-bourgeois-nationalist traitors" in one series of show trials, after which they were executed and their ashes were mixed with material being used to fill roads on the outskirts of Prague. [16]

Antonín Novotny served as First Secretary of the KSČ from 1953 to 1968. Gustáv Husák was elected first secretary of KSČ in 1969 (changed to General Secretary in 1971) and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975. Other parties and organizations existed but functioned in subordinate roles to KSČ. All political parties, as well as numerous mass organizations, were grouped under the umbrella of National Front of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Human rights activists and religious activists were severely repressed.

In terms of political positions, the KSČ maintained the cadre and the nomenklatura lists, with the latter containing every post in each country that was important to the smooth application of party policy, including military posts, administrative positions, directors of local enterprises, social organization administrators, newspapers, etc. [19] The KSČ's nomenklatura lists were thought to contain 100,000 post listings. [19] The names of those that the party considered to be trustworthy enough to secure a nomenklatura post were compiled on the cadre list. [19]

Heads of state and government

Foreign relations

Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia was an active participant in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), Warsaw Pact, the UN and its specialized agencies, and Non-Aligned Movement; it was a signatory of conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Administrative divisions

Economy

The Czechoslovak economy was a centrally planned command economy with links controlled by the communist party, similar to the Soviet Union. It had a large metallurgical industry, but was dependent on imports for iron and nonferrous ores. Like the rest of the Eastern Bloc, producer goods were favored over consumer goods, causing consumer goods to be lacking in quantity and quality. This resulted in a shortage economy. [20] [21] Economic growth rates lagged well behind Czechoslovakia's western European counterparts. [22] Investments made in industry did not yield the results expected, and consumption of energy and raw materials was excessive. Czechoslovak leaders themselves decried the economy's failure to modernize with sufficient speed.

Resource base

After World War II, the country was short on energy, relying on imported crude oil and natural gas from the Soviet Union, domestic brown coal, and nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Energy constraints were a major factor in 1980s.

Demographics

Society and social groups

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1962. [23]

Emigration

Historically, emigration has always been an option for Czechs and Slovaks dissatisfied with the situation at home. Each wave of emigration had its own impetus. In the 19th century, the reasons were primarily economic. In the 20th century, emigration was largely prompted by political turmoil, though economic factors still played a role. The first major wave of emigration in the 20th century came after the communists came to power, and the next wave began after the Prague Spring was suppressed.

In the 1980s, the most popular way to emigrate to the West was to travel to Yugoslavia by automobile and, once there, take a detour to Greece, Austria, or Italy (Yugoslav border restrictions were not as strict as those of the Warsaw Pact nations). Only a small percentage of those who applied to emigrate legally could do so. The exact details of the process have never been published, but a reasonably clear picture can be gleaned from those who succeeded. It was a lengthy and costly process. Those applicants allowed to even consider emigration were required to repay the state for their education, depending on their level of education and salary, at a rate ranging from 4,000 Kčs to 10,000 Kčs. (The average yearly wage was about Kčs33,600 in 1984.) The applicant was likely to lose his job and be socially ostracized.

Technically, at least, such emigres would be allowed to return for visits. Those who had been politically active, such as Charter 77 signatories, found it somewhat easier to emigrate, but they were not allowed to return and reportedly had to pay the state exorbitant fees—Kčs23,000 to as much as Kčs80,000—if they had graduated from a university. Old-age pensioners had no problem visiting or emigrating to the West. The reasons for this were purely economic; if they decided to stay in the West, the state no longer had to pay their pension.[ citation needed ]

There is (and always was) a huge discrepancy between "official statistics" (i.e. numbers issued by the communist regime) on how many people emigrated from Czechoslovakia and "illegal refugee" statistics published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This discrepancy was not specific to Czechoslovakia only; a similar situation applied for all Eastern Bloc countries, as their authoritarian regimes preferred to downplay and suppress real numbers.[ citation needed ]

Official statistics for the early 1980s show that, on the average, 3,500 people emigrated legally each year. From 1965 to 1983, a total of 33,000 people emigrated legally. This figure undoubtedly included a large number of ethnic Germans resettled in East Germany. The largest émigré communities are located in Austria, West Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Unofficial figures are much larger. It is estimated that between 1948 and 1989 close to 1 million people left communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. The largest exoduses occurred following the communist takeover in February 1948 and following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, with around 200,000 people leaving in each wave.[ citation needed ] A very similar 200,000-strong refugee wave left Hungary in 1956 after their failed anti-communist revolution. In the 1950s, when the regime was at its harshest and the "Iron Curtain" was close to impenetrable, emigration was very low. It increased between 1969 and 1989, when close to 40,000 people were leaving the country each year. All of them were sentenced to imprisonment in absentia by the communist regime for leaving the country illegally.

Religion

Religion was oppressed and attacked in communist-era Czechoslovakia. [24] In 1991, 46.4% were Roman Catholics, Atheists made up 29.5%, 5.3% were Evangelical Lutherans, and 16.7% were n/a, but there were huge differences between the 2 constituent republics – see Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Culture and society

Health, social welfare and housing

After World War II, free health care was available to all citizens. National health planning emphasized preventive medicine; factory and local health-care centers supplemented hospitals and other inpatient institutions. Substantial improvement in rural health care in 1960s and 1970s.

Mass media

The mass media in Czechoslovakia was controlled by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Private ownership of any publication or agency of the mass media was generally forbidden, although churches and other organizations published small periodicals and newspapers. Even with this informational monopoly in the hands of organizations under KSČ control, all publications were reviewed by the government's Office for Press and Information.

Military

See also

Notes

  1. Rao, B. V. (2006), History of Modern Europe Ad 1789–2002: A.D. 1789–2002, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  2. Masaryk, Tomáš. Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence. 1918.
  3. 1 2 Czech. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  4. Online Etymology Dictionary. "Czech". Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  5. 1 2 Wettig 2008 , p. 45
  6. Wettig 2008 , p. 86
  7. Wettig 2008 , p. 152
  8. Wettig 2008 , p. 110
  9. Wettig 2008 , p. 138
  10. Grogin 2001 , p. 134
  11. Grenville 2005 , p. 371
  12. Grenville 2005 , pp. 370–371
  13. Grogin 2001 , pp. 134–135
  14. Saxonberg 2001 , p. 15
  15. Grogin 2001 , p. 135
  16. 1 2 3 Crampton 1997 , p. 262
  17. 1 2 Bideleux & Jeffries 2007 , p. 477
  18. Crampton 1997 , p. 270
  19. 1 2 3 Crampton 1997 , p. 249
  20. Dale 2005 , p. 85
  21. Bideleux & Jeffries 2007 , p. 474
  22. Hardt & Kaufman 1995 , p. 17
  23. http://www.radio.cz/fr/rubrique/histoire/vers-la-decriminalisation-de-lhomosexualite-sous-le-communisme
  24. Catholics in Communist Czechoslovakia: A Story of Persecution and Perseverance

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Parliamentary elections were held in Czechoslovakia on 12 June 1960. Voters were presented with a single list from the National Front, dominated by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). According to official figures, 99.7 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote, and 99.9 percent of those who voted approved the National Front list. Within the Front, the Communists had a large majority of 216 seats–147 for the main party and 69 for the Slovak branch.

References

Coordinates: 50°05′N14°28′E / 50.083°N 14.467°E / 50.083; 14.467