Soviet state, Svoboda joined the Czechoslovak Legion and fought alongside the Red Army.
In 1945, he returned to Czechoslovakia and was immediately appointed minister of defense. He participated in various coalition governments until the communist coup d'etat, in which Svoboda played a major role. Until 1950, he remained in his post as minister of defense. In that year, Svoboda became a victim of the purges; he was dismissed from his post and was expelled from the Communist party. For three years, he was kept in prison as an alleged Titoist.
Following Stalin's death, Svoboda was released and worked for a year as an accountant in Prague. In the following year, Svoboda's party membership was restored, and he was appointed commander of the country's chief military academy. In 1959, he retired. However, during Alexander Dubcek's premiership (see Dubcek, Alexander), Svoboda was elected president of the Czechoslovak republic and served in that capacity until October 1975. Although he opposed the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, he made his accommodation with the Husak regime. He was even appointed to membership in the party's Central Committee and the Presidium (formerly the Politburo). In 1976, he retired once again, because he was ill and was no longer able to perform the functions of president.
Kusin Vladimir V., From Dubcek to Charter 77: A Study of 'Normalization' in Czechoslovakia, 1968-1978 ( New York, 1978).
Two Thousand Words (1968). Ludvik Vaculik, a nonparty intellectual in Czechoslovakia, published a famous article as the expression of popular opinion about the reform process during the spring of 1968 (see Prague Spring, 1968). He reviewed the history of Czechoslovakia since 1945 and voiced sharp criticism of the leadership and policies of the Communist party. He also stressed his conviction that the revival process that had begun in the spring was grinding to a halt and that stronger measures than those proposed by the reformist leaders were needed to reform the system. The article was really a declaration, signed by more than sixty intellectuals, to alert the people to the dangers facing the movement for democracy in Czechoslovakia. The article and its signers were bitterly denounced by the party and government leaders and it stirred up a great deal of controversy. Conservatives and progressive all commented on it, according to their own points of view, and it polarized opinions. The conservatives who called it "an open appeal to counterrevolution," wanted the author prosecuted. The party's Presidium, the National Front, and even premier Alexander Dubcek contributed to the open debate. They especially denounced the article's call for independent mass organizations as an attack on the party and on socialism itself.
The "Two Thousand Words" became a center of intense discussions all over the country. Party district organizations, city councils, and people on the street were all aroused by its statement. A flood of letters, both for and against, arrived at newspaper editorial offices. In Slovakia, the nomen-klatura was generally negative about the