East Central Europe and the World: Developments in the Post-Stalin Era

By Stephen D. Kertesz; Karlis Kalnins et al. | Go to book overview

5: CZECHOSLOVAKIA

Ivo D. Duchacek

When the communist leaders of Czechoslovakia commemorate the successive anniversaries of their accession to power, they do so with gusto and glee. They display their pride over the exemplary fashion in which they seized power on February 25, 1948.1 Not only their opponents in 1948 but communist leaders themselves were surprised at the ease with which power had passed from the hands of the National Front Coalition government.2 Klement Gottwald, the first communist prime minister and chairman of the Communist Party, had shown his astonishment in conversation with other party leaders, reportedly in the following words: "It was like cutting butter with a sharp knife." The noncommunist majority had been sliced to pieces by a well-organized and Soviet-supported communist minority.

There thus has been well over a decade of communism in Czechoslovakia, and it is proper to inquire what happened to the country during this novel era of its history. What did the new Czechoslovakia look like? In 1960 it adopted a new name, that of Socialist Republic, and a new constitution which recorded Czechoslovakia's claim to be second only to the Soviet Union in the matter of building communism; the higher form of proletarian development (that is, socialism, in Lenin's sense of the word) was allegedly reached in 1960. Had Czechoslovakia in truth become the showplace of Marxism?

____________________
1
For a detailed description of the communist takeover see the author's article in "The Fate of East Central Europe, Hopes and Failures Of American Foreign Policy" (Notre Dame, 1956), pp. 179-218. The period of the thaw was described in the author's article, "A Loyal Satellite," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, May 1958, pp. 115-22; the nature of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was also analyzed in the author's essay, "Czechoslovakia's Communism--A Profile," published by the Czech review Svědectví ( New York, 1958), pp. 226-63.
2
Two Marxist parties, the communists and the Social Democrats, and three non-Marxist parties, the National-Socialists, the Christian Democrats ( People's Party) and the Slovak Democrats, formed the National Front coalition from 1945- 1948.

-95-

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East Central Europe and the World: Developments in the Post-Stalin Era
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Previous Volumes in The International Studies Series ii
  • Title Page iv
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1: Another Five Years 1
  • Part One Internal Developments And Foreign Relations 19
  • 2: Baltic States 21
  • 3: Poland 45
  • 4: East Germany 64
  • 5: Czechoslovakia 95
  • 7: Rumania 156
  • 8: Bulgaria 169
  • 11: China: A New Power in Europe 264
  • Part Two On the Periphery Of The Soviet Orbit 279
  • 13: Finland 314
  • 14: Austria, 1955-1961 338
  • Part Three The West And East Central Europe 355
  • 15: American and West European Policy Toward East Central Europe Since Stalin 357
  • Index 377
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