CHAPTER 10 Ineffectual Anti-Communism

DURING the period between the 1946 elections and the Communist coup of February 1948, the old Czech spirit of democ- racy and independence flared up briefly in efforts to redress the balance between East and West internally, and in international relations. Suddenly realizing the vitality of this spirit, the Russians Communists decided to snuff it out. The whole conception of sharing in a balance of power was a Western one and utterly foreign and repugnant to Russians and Communists.

The revival of democratic non-Communist forces coincided with the beginning of a sensational economic recovery. Czechoslovakia became the economic wonder of eastern Europe, similar to Belgium in the west. The streets of Prague were filled with American troops on leave and tourists who reveled in shopping and good eating. By the end of 1946, industry had reached 75 per cent of its 1937 level, foreign trade with the West had soared beyond all expectations and UNRRA had rejected the Czechs' request for further aid in 1947 on the grounds that they were the only people in Europe whose diet was on a pre-war caloric level.

Such well-being can be explained by a wide variety of circumstances. First, Czechoslovakia had suffered fairly little war damage except in eastern Slovakia and in the southwest between Pilsen and the border. The Ger- mans had expanded some branches of the country's heavy industry and had accumulated stockpiles of raw materials at points beyond the usual range of bombers. The first postwar harvests were good considering the disorganization of the times, and Czech factories were rapidly finding export markets at high prices in spite of the inefficiency arising from swift nationalization. Finally UNRRA, beginning with 30 million dollars' worth of supplies in 1945, poured in 230 million dollars' worth during 1946. UNRRA was popular. All UNRRA trucks and supplies had the words "dodala UNRRA" stenciled on them, meaning "delivered by UNRRA,"

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