Czechoslovakia

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Czechoslovakia

Československo
Česko‑Slovensko [lower-alpha 1]
1918–1939
1945–1992
1939–1945: Government-in-exile
Motto: Pravda vítězí  /Pravda víťazí’ (Czech / Slovak, 1918–1990)
’Veritas vincit’ (Latin, 1990–1992)
’Truth prevails’
Anthem: Kde domov můj (Czech)
’Where is my home’

Nad Tatrou sa blýska (Slovak)
’Lightning Over the Tatras’
Czechoslovakia location map.svg
Czechoslovakia during interwar period and Cold War
Capital Prague (Praha)
Common languages Czech  · Slovak  · German  · Hungarian  · Yiddish  · Rusyn
Demonym(s) Czechoslovak
Government First Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938)
Second Czechoslovak Republic (1938–1939)
Third Czechoslovak Republic (1945–1948)
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1948–1990)
Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (1990–1992)
President  
 1918–1935
Tomáš G. Masaryk
 1935–1938 ·1945–1948
Edvard Beneš
 1938–1939
Emil Hácha
 1948–1953
Klement Gottwald
 1953–1957
Antonín Zápotocký
 1957–1968
Antonín Novotný
 1968–1975
Ludvík Svoboda
 1976–1989
Gustáv Husák
 1989–1992
Václav Havel
Prime Minister  
 1918–1919 (first)
Karel Kramář
 1992 (last)
Jan Stráský
Historical era 20th century
 Independence
28 October 1918
1939
 Liberation
9 May 1945
25 February 1948
November–December 1989
31 December 1992
Area
1921140,446 km2 (54,227 sq mi)
1992127,900 km2 (49,400 sq mi)
Population
 1921
13,607,385
 1992
15,600,000
Currency Czechoslovak koruna
Calling code +42
Internet TLD .cs
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Austria-Hungary 1869-1918.svg Austria-Hungary
Flag of Bohemia.svg Kingdom of Bohemia
Banner of arms of Moravia.svg Margraviate of Moravia
Czech Republic Flag of the Czech Republic.svg
Slovakia Flag of Slovakia.svg
Today part ofFlag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine
 Flag of Transcarpathian Oblast.svg  Zakarpattia Oblast
Calling code +42 was withdrawn in the winter of 1997. The number range was divided between the Czech Republic (+420) and Slovak Republic (+421).
Current ISO 3166-3 code is "CSHH".

Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia [1] ( /ˌɛkslˈvækiə, -kə-, -slə-, -ˈvɑː-/ ; [2] [3] Czech and Slovak : Československo, Česko-Slovensko [4] [5] ), 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.

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.

Sovereign state political organization with a centralized independent government

In international law, a sovereign state, sovereign country, or simply state, is a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.

Contents

From 1939 to 1945, following its forced division and partial incorporation into Nazi Germany, the state did not de facto exist but its government-in-exile continued to operate.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Czechoslovak government-in-exile government-in-exile during World War II

The Czechoslovak government-in-exile, sometimes styled officially as the Provisional Government of Czechoslovakia, was an informal title conferred upon the Czechoslovak National Liberation Committee, initially by British diplomatic recognition. The name came to be used by other World War II Allies as they subsequently recognised it. The Committee was originally created by the former Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš in Paris, France, in October 1939. Unsuccessful negotiations with France for diplomatic status, as well as the impending Nazi occupation of France, forced the Committee to withdraw to London in 1940. The Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile offices were at various locations in London but mainly at a building called Fursecroft.

From 1948 to 1990, Czechoslovakia was part of the Eastern Bloc with a command economy. Its economic status was formalized in membership of Comecon from 1949 and its defense status in the Warsaw Pact of May 1955. A period of political liberalization in 1968, known as the Prague Spring, was forcibly ended when the Soviet Union, assisted by several other Warsaw Pact countries, invaded. In 1989, as Marxist–Leninist governments and communism were ending all over Europe, Czechoslovaks peacefully deposed their government in the Velvet Revolution; state price controls were removed after a period of preparation. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the two sovereign states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Eastern Bloc 20th-century group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe

The Eastern Bloc was the group of communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia and Southeast Asia under the hegemony of the Soviet Union (USSR) during the Cold War (1947–1991) in opposition to the capitalist Western Bloc. Generally, in Western Europe the term Eastern Bloc referred to the USSR and its East European satellite states in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon); in Asia, the socialist bloc comprised the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the People's Republic of Kampuchea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the People's Republic of China. In the Americas, the communist bloc included the Caribbean Republic of Cuba, since 1961.

Comecon former international economic organization

The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance was an economic organization from 1949 to 1991 under the leadership of the Soviet Union that comprised the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world.

Warsaw Pact international military alliance of Communist states

The Warsaw Pact, formally known as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defence treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven Eastern Bloc satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CoMEcon), the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954, but it is also considered to have been motivated by Soviet desires to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe.

Characteristics

Form of state

A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy. Rather than being a cross between two entirely separate systems, democratic republics may function on principles shared by both republics and democracies.

Sudetenland

The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire.

Carpatho-Ukraine Short-lived autonomous region and unrecognized state

Carpatho-Ukraine or Carpathian Ukraine was an autonomous region within the Second Czechoslovak Republic, created in December 1938 by renaming Subcarpathian Rus which full administrative and political autonomy was confirmed by the Constitutional law of 22 November 1938. After the breakup of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, it was proclaimed an independent republic on 15 March 1939, headed by president Avgustyn Voloshyn, who appealed to the Axis powers for recognition and support. Nazi Germany did not reply, and the short-lived state was occupied and annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary, crushing all local resistance by 18 March 1939.

Neighbours
Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, and referred to by historians as the Bonn Republic, was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. It was created during the Allied occupation of Germany in 1949 after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its capital was the city of Bonn.

Topography

The country was of generally irregular terrain. The western area was part of the north-central European uplands. The eastern region was composed of the northern reaches of the Carpathian Mountains and lands of the Danube River basin.

Carpathian Mountains mountain range in Central and Eastern Europe

The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a mountain range system forming an arc roughly 1,500 km (932 mi) long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the third-longest mountain range in Europe after the Ural Mountains with 2,500 km (1,553 mi) and Scandinavian Mountains with 1,700 km (1,056 mi).

Climate

The weather is mild winters and mild summers. Influenced by the Atlantic Ocean from the west, Baltic Sea from the north, and Mediterranean Sea from the south. There is no continental weather.

Official names

History

Origins

Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, founder and first president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk 1925.PNG
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, founder and first president
Czechoslovak troops in Vladivostok (1918) Czech Troops.jpg
Czechoslovak troops in Vladivostok (1918)
Czechoslovak declaration of independence rally in Prague on Wenceslas Square, 28 October 1918 28. rijen 1918.jpg
Czechoslovak declaration of independence rally in Prague on Wenceslas Square, 28 October 1918

The area was long a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the empire collapsed at the end of World War I. The new state was founded by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk [7] (1850–1937), who served as its first president from 14 November 1918 to 14 December 1935. He was succeeded by his close ally, Edvard Beneš (1884–1948).

The roots of Czech nationalism go back to the 19th century, when philologists and educators, influenced by Romanticism, promoted the Czech language and pride in the Czech people. Nationalism became a mass movement in the second half of the 19th century. Taking advantage of the limited opportunities for participation in political life under Austrian rule, Czech leaders such as historian František Palacký (1798–1876) founded many patriotic, self-help organizations which provided a chance for many of their compatriots to participate in communal life prior to independence. Palacký supported Austro-Slavism and worked for a reorganized and federal Austrian Empire, which would protect the Slavic speaking peoples of Central Europe against Russian and German threats.

An advocate of democratic reform and Czech autonomy within Austria-Hungary, Masaryk was elected twice to the Reichsrat (Austrian Parliament), first from 1891 to 1893 for the Young Czech Party, and again from 1907 to 1914 for the Czech Realist Party, which he had founded in 1889 with Karel Kramář and Josef Kaizl.

During World War I small numbers of Czechs, the Czechoslovak Legions, fought with the Allies in France and Italy, while large numbers deserted to Russia in exchange for its support for the independence of Czechoslovakia from the Austrian Empire. With the outbreak of World War I, Masaryk began working for Czech independence in a union with Slovakia. With Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Štefánik, Masaryk visited several Western countries and won support from influential publicists. [8]

Bohemia and Moravia, under Austrian rule, were Czech-speaking industrial centres, while Slovakia, which was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, was an undeveloped agrarian region. Conditions were much better for the development of a mass national movement in the Czech lands than in Slovakia. Nevertheless, the two regions united and created a new nation.

First Czechoslovak Republic

Formation

Czechoslovakia in 1928 Czechoslovakia01.png
Czechoslovakia in 1928

The Bohemian Kingdom ceased to exist in 1918 when it was incorporated into Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was founded in October 1918, as one of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I and as part of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It consisted of the present day territories of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia. Its territory included some of the most industrialized regions of the former Austria-Hungary.

Ethnicity

Linguistic map of Czechoslovakia in 1930 Czechoslovakia 1930 linguistic map - created 2008-10-30.svg
Linguistic map of Czechoslovakia in 1930

The new country was a multi-ethnic state, with Czechs and Slovaks as constituent peoples. The population consisted of Czechs (51%), Slovaks (16%), Germans (22%), Hungarians (5%) and Rusyns (4%). [9] Many of the Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Poles [10] and some Slovaks, felt oppressed because the political elite did not generally allow political autonomy for minority ethnic groups.[ citation needed ] This policy led to unrest among the non-Czech population, particularly in German-speaking Sudetenland, which initially had proclaimed itself part of the Republic of German-Austria in accordance with the self-determination prinicple.

The state proclaimed the official ideology that there were no separate Czech and Slovak nations, but only one nation of Czechoslovaks (see Czechoslovakism), to the disagreement of Slovaks and other ethnic groups. Once a unified Czechoslovakia was restored after World War II (after the country had been divided during the war), the conflict between the Czechs and the Slovaks surfaced again. The governments of Czechoslovakia and other eastern European nations deported ethnic Germans to the West, reducing the presence of minorities in the nation. Most of the Jews had been killed during the war by the Nazis and their allies.


Ethnicities of Czechoslovakia in 1921 [11]


Czecho slovaks 8,759,70164.37%
Germans3,123,30522.95%
Hungarians 744,6215.47%
Ruthenians 461,4493.39%
Jews 180,5341.33%
Poles 75,8520.56%
Others23,1390.17%
Foreigners238,7841.75%
Total population13,607,385


Ethnicities of Czechoslovakia in 1930 [12]


Czecho slovaks 10,066,00068.35%
Germans3,229,00021.93%
Ruthenians 745,0005.06%
Hungarians 653,0004.43%
Jews*354,0002.40%
Poles 76,0000.52%
Romanians 14,0000.10%
Foreigners239,0001.62%
Total population14,726,158

*Jews identified themselves as Germans or Hungarians (and Jews only by religion not ethnicity), the sum is, therefore, more than 100%.

Interwar period

During the period between the two world wars, democracy thrived in Czechoslovakia. Of all the new states established in central Europe after 1918, only Czechoslovakia preserved a democratic government until the war broke out. Thus, despite regional disparities, its level of development was much higher than that of neighboring states.[ citation needed ] The population was generally literate, and contained fewer alienated groups. The influence of these conditions was augmented by the political values of Czechoslovakia's leaders and the policies they adopted. Under Tomas Masaryk, Czech and Slovak politicians promoted progressive social and economic conditions that served to defuse discontent.

Foreign minister Beneš became the prime architect of the Czechoslovak-Romanian-Yugoslav alliance (the "Little Entente", 1921–38) directed against Hungarian attempts to reclaim lost areas. Beneš worked closely with France. Far more dangerous was the German element, which after 1933 became allied with the Nazis in Germany. The increasing feeling of inferiority among the Slovaks,[ citation needed ] who were hostile to the more numerous Czechs, weakened the country in the late 1930s. Many Slovaks supported an extreme nationalist movement and welcomed the puppet Slovak state set up under Hitler's control in 1939.[ citation needed ]

After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in central and eastern Europe. [13]

Munich Agreement, and Two-Step German Occupation

The partition of Czechoslovakia after Munich Agreement Czechoslovakia 1939.SVG
The partition of Czechoslovakia after Munich Agreement
The car in which Reinhard Heydrich was killed Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1972-039-44, Heydrich-Attentat.jpg
The car in which Reinhard Heydrich was killed
Territory of the Second Czechoslovak Republic (1938-1939) Czechoslovak Republic (1939).svg
Territory of the Second Czechoslovak Republic (1938–1939)

In September 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded control of the Sudetenland. On 29 September 1938, Britain and France ceded control in the Appeasement at the Munich Conference; France ignored the military alliance it had with Czechoslovakia. During October 1938, Nazi Germany occupied and annexed the Sudetenland border region, effectively crippling Czechoslovak defences.

On 15 March 1939, the remainder ("rump") of Czechoslovakia was invaded and divided into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the puppet Slovak State.

Much of Slovakia and all of Carpathian Ruthenia were annexed by Hungary. Poland occupied Zaolzie, an area whose population was majority Polish, in October 1938.

The eventual goal of the German state under Nazi leadership was to eradicate Czech nationality through assimilation, deportation, and extermination of the Czech intelligentsia; the intellectual elites and middle class made up a considerable number of the 200,000 people who passed through concentration camps and the 250,000 who died during German occupation. [14] Under Generalplan Ost, it was assumed that around 50% Czechs would be fit for Germanization. The Czech intellectual elites were to be removed not only from Czech territories but from Europe completely. The authors of Generalplan Ost believed it would be best if they emigrated overseas, as even in Siberia they were considered a threat to German rule. Just like Jews, Poles, Serbs, and several other nations, Czechs were considered to be untermenschen by the Nazi state. [15] In 1940, in a secret Nazi plan for the Germanization of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia it was declared that those considered to be of racially Mongoloid origin and the Czech intelligentsia were not to be Germanized. [16]

The deportation of Jews to concentration camps was organized under the direction of Reinhard Heydrich, and the fortress town of Terezín was made into a ghetto way station for Jewish families. On 4 June 1942 Heydrich died after being wounded by an assassin in Operation Anthropoid. Heydrich's successor, Colonel General Kurt Daluege, ordered mass arrests and executions and the destruction of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. In 1943 the German war effort was accelerated. Under the authority of Karl Hermann Frank, German minister of state for Bohemia and Moravia, some 350,000 Czech laborers were dispatched to the Reich. Within the protectorate, all non-war-related industry was prohibited. Most of the Czech population obeyed quiescently up until the final months preceding the end of the war, while thousands were involved in the resistance movement.

For the Czechs of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, German occupation was a period of brutal oppression. Czech losses resulting from political persecution and deaths in concentration camps totaled between 36,000 and 55,000. The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia (118,000 according to the 1930 census) was virtually annihilated. Many Jews emigrated after 1939; more than 70,000 were killed; 8,000 survived at Terezín. Several thousand Jews managed to live in freedom or in hiding throughout the occupation.

Despite the estimated 136,000 deaths at the hands of the Nazi regime, the population in the Reichsprotektorate saw a net increase during the war years of approximately 250,000 in line with an increased birth rate. [17]

On 6 May 1945, the third US Army of General Patton entered Pilsen from the south west. On 9 May 1945, Soviet Red Army troops entered Prague.

Socialist Czechoslovakia

Socialist coat of arms in 1960-1990 Coat of arms of Czechoslovakia (1961-1989).svg
Socialist coat of arms in 1960–1990

After World War II, pre-war Czechoslovakia was re-established, with the exception of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was annexed by the Soviet Union and incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Beneš decrees were promulgated concerning ethnic Germans (see Potsdam Agreement) and ethnic Hungarians. Under the decrees, citizenship was abrogated for people of German and Hungarian ethnic origin who had accepted German or Hungarian citizenship during the occupations. In 1948, this provision was cancelled for the Hungarians, but only partially for the Germans. The government then confiscated the property of the Germans and expelled about 90% of the ethnic German population, over 2 million people. Those who remained were collectively accused of supporting the Nazis after the Munich Agreement, as 97.32% of Sudeten Germans had voted for the NSDAP in the December 1938 elections. Almost every decree explicitly stated that the sanctions did not apply to antifascists. Some 250,000 Germans, many married to Czechs, some antifascists, and also those required for the post-war reconstruction of the country, remained in Czechoslovakia. The Beneš Decrees still cause controversy among nationalist groups in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Hungary. [18]

Spartakiad in 1960 Spartakiada - 1960.JPG
Spartakiad in 1960

Carpathian Ruthenia (Podkarpatská Rus) was occupied by (and in June 1945 formally ceded to) the Soviet Union. In the 1946 parliamentary election, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was the winner in the Czech lands, and the Democratic Party won in Slovakia. In February 1948 the Communists seized power. Although they would maintain the fiction of political pluralism through the existence of the National Front, except for a short period in the late 1960s (the Prague Spring) the country had no liberal democracy. Since citizens lacked significant electoral methods of registering protest against government policies, periodically there were street protests that became violent. For example, there were riots in the town of Plzeň in 1953, reflecting economic discontent. Police and army units put down the rebellion, and hundreds were injured but no one was killed. While its economy remained more advanced than those of its neighbors in Eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia grew increasingly economically weak relative to Western Europe.

The currency reform of 1953 caused dissatisfaction among Czechoslovakian laborers. Prior to World War II, the Czech purchasing power surpassed that of the Soviet Union by 115-144%. This disparity was noted after Czechoslovakia came under the Soviet bloc. To equalize the wage rate, Czechoslovakians had to turn in their old money for new at a decreased value. This lowered the real value of wages by about 11%. [19] The banks also confiscated savings and bank deposits to control the amount of money in circulation. The economy continued to suffer as production achievements of bituminous coal was less than anticipated. Bituminous coal powered 85% of Czechoslovakia's economy. Because of low production, coal was utilized in industry only. Pre-war years, consumers used both coal and lignite for fuel, however due to low production, coal was for industrial use only which meant the consumer was only able to utilize lignite. In 1929, a typical family of four consumed approximately 2.34 tons of lignite but, by 1953, this same family unit was only allowed to use 1.6-1.8 tons per year. [19]

Czechoslovakia after 1969 Czechoslovakia.png
Czechoslovakia after 1969

In 1968, when the reformer Alexander Dubček was appointed to the key post of First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, there was a brief period of liberalization known as the Prague Spring. In response, after failing to persuade the Czechoslovak leaders to change course, five other Eastern Bloc members of the Warsaw Pact invaded. Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia on the night of 20–21 August 1968. [20] The General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Leonid Brezhnev viewed this intervention as vital for the preservation of the Soviet, socialist system and vowed to intervene in any state that sought to replace Marxism-Leninism with capitalism. [21] In the week after the invasion there was a spontaneous campaign of civil resistance against the occupation. This resistance involved a wide range of acts of non-cooperation and defiance: this was followed by a period in which the Czechoslovak Communist Party leadership, having been forced in Moscow to make concessions to the Soviet Union, gradually put the brakes on their earlier liberal policies. [22] In April 1969 Dubček was finally dismissed from the First Secretaryship of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Meanwhile, one plank of the reform program had been carried out: in 1968-69, Czechoslovakia was turned into a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic. The theory was that under the federation, social and economic inequities between the Czech and Slovak halves of the state would be largely eliminated. A number of ministries, such as education, now became two formally equal bodies in the two formally equal republics. However, the centralised political control by the Czechoslovak 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, manifested in limitations on work activities, which went as far as a ban on professional employment, the refusal of higher education for the dissidents' children, police harassment and prison.

After 1989

The Visegrad Group signing ceremony in February 1991 Foundation of the Visegrad Group.tiff
The Visegrád Group signing ceremony in February 1991

In 1989, the Velvet Revolution restored democracy. This occurred at around the same time as the fall of communism in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.

The word "socialist" was removed from the country's full name on 29 March 1990 and replaced by "federal".

In 1992, because of growing nationalist tensions in the government, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved by parliament. On 1 January 1993 it formally separated into two independent countries, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

Government and politics

After World War II, a political monopoly was held by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Gustáv Husák was elected first secretary of the 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 the KSČ. All political parties, as well as numerous mass organizations, were grouped under umbrella of the National Front. Human rights activists and religious activists were severely repressed.

Constitutional development

Federative coat of arms in 1990-1992 Coat of arms of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.svg
Federative coat of arms in 1990–1992

Czechoslovakia had the following constitutions during its history (1918–1992):

Heads of state and government

Foreign policy

International agreements and membership

In the 1930s, the nation formed a military alliance with France, which collapsed in the Munich Agreement of 1938. After World War II, active participant in Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), Warsaw Pact, United Nations and its specialized agencies; signatory of conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. [23]

Administrative divisions

Population and ethnic groups

Economy

Before World War II, the economy was about the fourth in all industrial states in Europe. The state was based on strong economy, manufacturing cars (Škoda, Tatra), trams, aircraft (Aero, Avia), ships, ship engines (Škoda), canons, shoes (Baťa), turbines, guns (Zbrojovka Brno). It was the industrial workshop for Austro-Hungarian empire. The Slovak lands were more in agriculture.

After World War II, the economy was centrally planned, with command links controlled by the communist party, similarly to the Soviet Union. The large metallurgical industry was dependent on imports of iron and non-ferrous ores.

Resource base

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

Transport and communications

Slightly after the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, there was a lack of needful infrastructure in many areas – paved roads, railways, bridges etc. Massive improvement in the following years enabled Czechoslovakia to develop its industry. Prague's civil airport in Ruzyně became one of the most modern terminals in the world, when it was finished in 1937. Tomáš Baťa, Czech entrepreneur and visionary outlined his ideas in the publication "Budujme stát pro 40 milionů lidí", where he described the future motorway system. Construction of the first motorways in Czechoslovakia begun in 1939, nevertheless, they were stopped after Nazi occupation during the World War II.

Society

Education

Education was free at all levels and compulsory from age 6 to 15. The vast majority of the population was literate. There was a highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplemented general secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

Religion

In 1991: Roman Catholics 46%, Evangelical Lutheran 5.3%, Atheist 30%, n/a 17%, but there were huge differences in religious practices between the two constituent republics; see Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Health, social welfare and housing

After World War II, free health care was available to all citizens. National health planning emphasised preventive medicine; factory and local health care centres supplemented hospitals and other inpatient institutions. There was substantial improvement in rural health care during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mass media

During the era between the World Wars, Czechoslovak democracy and liberalism facilitated conditions for free publication. The most significant daily newspapers in these times were Lidové noviny, Národní listy, Český deník and Československá republika.

During Communist rule, the mass media in Czechoslovakia were controlled by the Communist Party. 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 information monopoly in the hands of organizations under KSČ control, all publications were reviewed by the government's Office for Press and Information.

Sports

The Czechoslovakia national football team was a consistent performer on the international scene, with eight appearances in the FIFA World Cup Finals, finishing in second place in 1934 and 1962. The team also won the European Football Championship in 1976, came in third in 1980 and won the Olympic gold in 1980.

Well-known football players such as Pavel Nedvěd, Antonín Panenka, Milan Baroš, Tomáš Rosický, Vladimír Šmicer or Petr Čech were all born in Czechoslovakia.

The International Olympic Committee code for Czechoslovakia is TCH, which is still used in historical listings of results.

The Czechoslovak national ice hockey team won many medals from the world championships and Olympic Games. Peter Šťastný, Jaromír Jágr, Dominik Hašek, Peter Bondra, Petr Klíma, Marián Gáborík, Marián Hossa, Miroslav Šatan and Pavol Demitra all come from Czechoslovakia.

Emil Zátopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals in athletics, is considered one of the top athletes in the history.

Věra Čáslavská was an Olympic gold medallist in gymnastics, winning seven gold medals and four silver medals. She represented Czechoslovakia in three consecutive Olympics.

Several accomplished professional tennis players including Ivan Lendl, Jan Kodeš, Miloslav Mečíř, Hana Mandlíková, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Petra Kvitová and Daniela Hantuchová were born in Czechoslovakia.

Culture

Postage stamps

See also

Notes

  1. In other recognized languages of Czechoslovakia:
    • German: Tschechoslowakei
    • Rusyn: Чеськословеньско, Cheskoslovensko
    • Yiddish: טשעכאסלאוואקיי, Tshekhaslavakey

Related Research Articles

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The German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945) began with the German annexation of Czechoslovakia's border regions known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. German leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this action was the alleged privations suffered by the ethnic German population living in those regions. New and extensive Czechoslovak border fortifications were also located in the same area.

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References

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Sources

Further reading

Maps with Hungarian-language rubrics: