Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview

Ladislav Adamec, the premier who had replaced Ludomir Strougal in 1988, attempted to mediate between the government and the dissidents, but he was not recognized by the opposition as a reformist. When it became clear that Soviet tanks would not rescue the party leaders this time around, Jakes finally saw the light. He accepted the major demands of the opposition to end one-party rule in Czechoslovakia.


Bibliography

Peche Jiri, "Czech-Slovak Conflict Threatens State Unity," Radio Free Europe Research Report 1. 1 ( January 3, 1992), pp. 83-86; Slay Ben, "Economic Reformers Face High Hurdles," Radio Free Europe Research Reports 1. 1 ( January 3, 1992), pp. 100-104.

Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The Communist party, established in 1921, soon acquired 350,000 members. In the elections held in 1925, the party received 13.3 percent of the total votes cast, and it gained 41 parliamentary deputies. By then, however, the card-carrying membership had declined to 280,000. The trend continued. In the elections of 1929, the party's share of the votes declined to 10.2 percent and its parliamentary representation shrank to 30 deputies. In 1935, membership and vote-gathering strength stabilized at around 10 percent and 30 deputies. Alone in the countries of Eastern Europe, the Czechoslovak Communist party was and remained legal throughout the interwar years. It participated in political life and in the parliamentary system without, however, giving up its revolutionary goals. Nevertheless, the fact that it had to participate in normal politics, making the necessary concessions and adjustment to its partners, made the party less prone to violence than other East European Communist parties.

The Czechoslovak Communist party was financed through illegal channels by the COMINTERN from Moscow. In 1938, the post-Munich government, headed by president Eduard Benes, dissolved the party and it went underground. The following year, the party split and its organization in Bohemia and Moravia became separate from the Slovak party. In 1945, the core of the leadership of the party, which spent most of the war years in the Soviet Union, returned home. By then, the hard-core membership was down to about 40,000. Yet, the number of members was higher than that of any other political party in the restored Czechoslovak republic. The Red Army of the Soviet Union and the Soviet secret police provided direct help for the reorganization of the Communist party while, at the same time, impeding the efforts of the other parties.

According to the Kosice Program, signed by president Benes and the Moscow-based Czech communist leaders in 1944 (see Kosice Program), no political parties that continued their activities during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia were permitted to reorganize after liberation. In this way, the strongest party, the Agrariam, was eliminated. The Communist party won over a large number of its followers because the Ministry of Agriculture was in Communist hands, and it immediately redistributed the lands confiscated from the expelled Germans. In consequence, the Communist party had, by the end of 1945, over 1 million card-carrying members.

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