Road to Stalinism
Having written quite extensively on the immediate post-war period in Czechoslovakia, I will be drawing upon many of those writings to discuss the path that Czechoslovakia took from liberation in 1945 to Stalinism in 1950 as two different, but deeply related phenomena. The first is relatively straight-forward and is in distinction to what usually takes center stage in discussions of the Sovietization of Eastern Europe: international aspects of, in my case, Czechoslovak developments. In what I will call the Czechoslovak Road to Socialism, I will focus on domestic events and briefly examine some of what I see as the most important turning points on the path that took the country from liberation to Communist dictatorship, in essence a domestic view of Czechoslovakia's road to Socialism. I will interweave into this a discussion of the fate of the, in quotations, “specific Czechoslovak Road to Socialism,” the Communist Party's political offensive that began in the fall of 1946, tacitly promising a divergence from Soviet practices. Its ultimate failure, occurring in the months after the Communist Party successfully gained total power in the state, has clear international roots, and the story of this failure can be seen as the story of the Czechoslovak Road to Stalinism. Of course, there could be no Czechoslovak Road to Stalinism without a Czechoslovak Road to Socialism, since it prepared the ground domestically for the international pressures that led to the Stalinization of the state and society. Nonetheless, I wish to keep these two notionally separated, in order to foreground some of the Czechoslovak specificities of the times.
The structure of this essay is also important. I will start by discussing notions of socialism common in the first years after the end of the Second World War, including the “specific Czechoslovak Road