Communist Power in Europe, 1944-1949

By Martin McCauley | Go to book overview

5 Czechoslovakia

VLADIMIR V. KUSIN

This is neither a history of the period under consideration nor a full account of the clash between exponents of Communist and democratic forms of government. To avoid simply rehashing what others may already have said better, I have concentrated on the formation, gradual amendment and implementation of the essential features of the strategy of takeover. Much more has been written about February 1948 in Czechoslovakia than can be quoted or even only alluded to. Thus omission of a work from the notes must not be read as a sign of neglect or slight.


STRATEGIES

Only a relatively small band of Czechoslovak Communist leaders found themselves in Moscow at the outbreak of war. With Gottwald still a member of the secretariat of the Comintern executive, they spent much time in debates on lessons from the past and for the future. If Gottwald, as we are told,1 initiated these discussions he deserves high marks for extraordinary foresight. For here was worked out the strategy of a 'national and democratic' revolution, including power-sharing by the Communists, and its gradual transformation into full-bodied Socialism of the Soviet type. The failure to seize power in 1918-20 served as a term of reference. We also know that Gottwald often talked in those days to Dimitrov, the Popular Front strategist, a relationship which need not have been without significance in this respect. And we can surmise that the first leader of Czechoslovak Communism, Bohumír Šmeral, sixty years old then, whose presence at these debates is acknowledged by the scantily available sources, brought his last major contribution to the cause in this manner. When he died in May 1941, the theoretical outline of future Communist policies had been drawn up, even though too many imponderables were still at play to make it applicable right away.

A much less dynamic concept of post-war development was simultaneously crystallising in the mind of Edvard Beneš in London. By virtue of his dominant personality and the prestige he commanded among the decisive part of the exiled Czechoslovak establishment (though not with everyone), Beneš became practically the single policy maker on the non- Communist side and was always able to make his will and his reading of the situation prevail. Thus to him goes credit and blame. His aim was

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Communist Power in Europe, 1944-1949
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes on Contributors xix
  • List of Abbreviations xxi
  • Part One 1
  • 1- Economic Developments in Eastern Europe under German Hegemony 3
  • 2- The Baltic States 1940-50 22
  • Part Two 37
  • 3- Poland 39
  • 4- East Germany 58
  • 5- Czechoslovakia 73
  • 6- Hungary 95
  • 7- Romania 111
  • Part Three 131
  • 8- Finland 133
  • 9- France 151
  • 10- Italy 168
  • II- Greece 184
  • Part Four 199
  • 12- British Policy towards Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary 1944-1946 201
  • 13- Thirty Years after 220
  • Index 231
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