Husák, Gustav

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Husák, Gustav

Gustav Husák (gŏŏs´täf hŏŏ´säk), 1913–91, Czechoslovakian political leader. A member of the Communist party from 1933, he helped to lead the Slovak national uprising against the German occupation in World War II. After the war he held government and party posts. During the 1951 party purges, he was arrested and imprisoned. He was released in 1960, and was allowed to rejoin the party in 1963. A critic of party secretary Antonín Novotný, he called for political liberalization and Slovakian national autonomy. Following Novotný's resignation, Husák became (1968) deputy premier and was an architect of the 1968 reforms. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union (Aug., 1968), he became increasingly pro-Soviet. In Apr., 1969, he replaced Alexander Dubček as Communist party secretary. He renewed Czechoslovakia's ties with the Soviet Union and reinstituted strong party control over the Czech economy, state, and society. Under his rule Czechoslovakia became a police state with a huge network of government informants. In 1975, Husák combined the offices of first (later general) secretary and president. He resigned from the secretaryship in 1987, but remained president until the 1989 collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia. He was replaced by Václav Havel as president on Dec. 29, 1989.

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