After their victory in 1945 the Allied Powers divided defeated Germany and gradually encouraged the formation of two German states. The result was a split into two hostile parts: the Federal Republic, which was granted sovereignty in 1954, and the German Democratic Republic, which became sovereign in September 1955. Meanwhile, the East-West struggle set forces in motion that led to the Communist take-over of Czechoslovakia in February 1948. The technological development of atomic weapons helped to freeze the Getman split and established a delicate power balance in Europe. Concomitantly, the Kremlin sought to draw Central Europe into its orbit, making the region a focus of the Cold War.
Strategic location and recent history combined to make Central Europe a problem area caught and pulled by the rival forces of the Communist and democratic blocs. Where national conflicts had spread their impact among peoples, the Communist pressures presented a major challenge of a different character. Although national fervor still simmered in Germany and Czechoslovakia, the immediate problems of the East-West struggle overshadowed any possible upsurge of nationalist feelings. To be sure, the average Czech in the Communist-dominated Republic seemed to be aware of the lessons of recent history and vaguely uneasy about the future development of Germany. Apprehension of a potential German threat seemed to have played a definitive role in Beneš' reluctance to resort to force during the Communist take-over.