AFTER a long and difficult courtship, before and during and after the last war, the Communist Party won the Czechoslovak workers in February 1948. The land and its resources, the factories and the mines were the dowry brought by the workers.
But the honeymoon was brief. The Communist Party proved to be a poor provider. As explained in previous chapters, the standard of living of even the most favored workers began to deteriorate late in 1950. The workers were gravely disappointed.
But it was the Communist-organized sweatshop system, becoming more rigorous and more obnoxious in proportion to the increase of economic difficulties, that brought about a complete alienation of the workers' affection for the Party. The Communist sweatshop system with its "shock work," socialist competition, overtime, night work, and "voluntary" brigades developed into a graduated system of forced labor. At the same time the workers found their pay envelopes thinner, their cupboards barer. It became apparent that all the extra effort demanded by the Party was not in the interests of the workers but in the interests of the Soviet Union. From there it was only a short jump to the realization that the Communist Party had won the workers on false pretenses, that it was interested not in their welfare but in the greater power and glory of the Soviet Union.
Perhaps the most disillusioning thing of all for the workers was the fact that this hateful system was implemented by the very organization that had been created by an earlier generation to protect and promote their interests -- the trade unions. This was the tragic contradiction that brought home to the workers most forcefully what they had sacrificed to the Communist Party. Many had been unable to appreciate what they had forfeited when the Party took control of the government and, in