Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War

By John O. Crane; Sylvia E. Crane | Go to book overview
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16 The Government Reconstituted on Home Ground (1945)

Eduard Beneš had given the Western Powers due notice of his intention to reorganize his government on home ground to conform to the reality of Communist hegemony in the local administrative committees emplaced by the liberating Red Army. Stalin himself had told Beneš he thought the Czechoslovak Communists tended to swing too far to the left, risking offense to sensibilities in Western chancelleries. The leftward pull was sugarcoated by the "provisional character" of the new administration, which was to govern until free elections would be held following liberation of the entire country. Throughout his extended deliberations with the Communist exiles in Moscow, they all understood that the first liberated government would contain representatives of the London government-in-exile, the Communists in Moscow, and representatives of the Slovak National Council.

The structure of the new government, announced by Beneš at Košice on April 7, 1945, manifested this "swing to the Left," according to British Ambassador Philip Nichols, who noted that the new "strong Communist elements" had been "wholly absent from the last administration." The conservative Agrarians were banned, as were the Rudolph Gajda-led Fascist groups, as all these leaders were "badly compromised by their [collaborationist] activities since 1938." Hubert Ripka reminded Nichols sharply in London, however, that the "drastic decision" to liquidate the Agrarian Party of the small peasants had been agreed to "by all the parties in the Cabinet. It was not an exclusive decision forced by the Communists."1

The government included five experts, ministers of no particular


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