Cold War Confrontation The Prague Spring From Museum of the City of Bratislava http://www.spectacularslovakia.sk/ss2003/14_prague_sping.html Prague Spring (1968) Background • Czechoslovakia resulted from the division of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire after WWI. • Communists obtained power through free elections and slowly... • Czechoslovakia became a satellite state of the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1948. • Unlike other European nations, the majority of Czechoslovaks supported communism. • In the 1960s an economical recession weakened the communist political control of the country. Prague Spring; http://library.thinkquest.org/C001155/index1.htm Causes of Revolution • The people began to demand change in their political system, Alexander Dubcek: The Czechoslovak politician and as the dissent grew, change responsible for newly implemented liberal reform would come in the form of Alexander Dubcek • Alexander Dubcek became First Party Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1968. • Dubcek was focused on reform of the political and administrative structure of the country • He was motivated by the will of the Czech people to make liberal reforms in his plan of “Action Programme.” • A loved and respected politician, Dubcek openly voiced his desire to spread liberation to other communist nations. • Prague Spring became known as the short-lived liberal reform movement. Radio Prague; http://archiv.radio.cz/history/history14.html, 1997 Image from Prague Spring; http://library.thinkquest.org/C001155/index1.htm Liberal Reforms • Liberal reforms were rapidly implemented through out the nation. • In March 1968, censorship of the press, radio and television was abolished. • Tolerance for non-communist organizations was encouraged. • An organization called Club 231 was formed in an effort to better monitor the humane treatment of political prisoners. • In April, certain rights were guaranteed for all citizens such as right to travel abroad, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. • The Communist party stated that nomenklatura (the practice of only appointing bureaucrats from party ranks) should end, and that a multi-party, more democratic system should be installed. • In September of 1968, it was the party’s intention to formalize all of the new liberal reforms at the Party Congress. • Another part of Dubcek’s plan was to eventually divide Czechoslovakia into two separate Republics. Mitchner, E. Alyn; Global Forces of the Twentieth Century, Reidmore Books, 1997 • Dubcek called it “socialism with a face” BBC News World: Europe Remembering the Prague Spring http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/155500.stm Liberal Reforms… • “The reform harks back half a century in spirit to 1918, when Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points proclaimed the self-determination of peoples and enabled Czechoslovakia to be born as an independent state. This time, Czechoslovakia was announcing its own self-determination—a determination to regain control of its destiny and shuck off the worst features of an alien Communist system.”-----Into Unexplored Terrain; Time Magazine, April 5th 1968 Image and quote from Time Archive 1923-Present http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19680405,00.html Soviet Reaction • Czechoslovakia was strategically essential to the Soviet Union, since it was in the centre of Europe where new liberal ideals could spread easily among communist nations. • Security of the Soviet Bloc was at risk in a time when the maintenance of Soviet ideology was the priority. • “Dubček has no intention of breaking Czechoslovakia's links with the Soviet Union and his socialist neighbors, but they view the events in Czechoslovakia with considerable alarm. They are all too aware that the success of Dubček's reforms would almost certainly have a spillover effect, causing their populaces to seek more liberalization at home. When Dubček was summoned to Dresden two weeks ago to tell party bosses from Russia, Poland, Hungary and East Germany just where he thought he was leading Czechoslovakia, he reportedly told them that he planned no big changes in foreign policy but intended to go right ahead with his internal reforms.”------ Time Magazine------ Into Unexplored Terrain; Time Magazine April 5th 1968 Quote from Time Archive 1923-Present http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19680405,00.html Negotiations • In initial negotiations for liberal reforms, Dubcek agreed to support the Warsaw Pact and COMECON, but in return, the Czechoslovak government would prevent any political dissent, or “antisocialist” tendencies. • In August of 1968, representatives from the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia met in Bratislava and signed the Bratislava Declaration. This declaration affirmed their loyalty to the communist ideologies of the Soviet Union. • The Soviet Union declared that it would intervene in a Warsaw Pact country if a "bourgeois" system, or non-communist political system, was ever established. • In exchange for Czechoslovakia’s loyalty, Soviet troops left the territory but stayed on Czechoslovak borders. Springtime for Prague; http://www.prague-life.com/prague/prague-spring “‘How could they do this to me?’ asked a dazed Dubcek. ‘I have served the cause Invasion • As mentioned before, due to the success of national of the Soviet Union and Communism all of communism in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union my life.’”---Russians Go Home! Time feared a chain reaction that would result in more Magazine, August 30, 1968 Eastern European countries following nationalistic ideals. • To prevent a “spill-over”, all the Eastern Bloc countries, except Romania, invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968. • Between 5,000 to 7,000 tanks invaded Czechoslovakia, accompanied by Warsaw Pact troops ranging from 200,000 to 600,000 in number. 72 Czechs and Slovaks died, and hundreds were wounded. • Citizens opposed the invasions by refusing troops food and water etc. There was extreme opposition met to the Soviet invasion, but Dubcek encouraged his people to remain out of the conflict. • The Western reaction to the invasion was nothing more than a vocal criticism as the West was unwilling to confront the Soviet military force. • Czech politicians were forced to pledge allegiance to communism and to other countries of the Eastern Bloc Springtime for Prague; http://www.prague-life.com/prague/prague-spring Image and quote from Time Archive 1923-Present http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19680830,00.html “Normalization” and the Brezhnev • Doctrine Following the military intervention, the opposite of the liberal reforms were implemented • This process of re-establishing communist policies and eliminating liberal reforms was called the “process of normalization • Until stability was achieved, the foreign troops remained in Czechoslovakia • The intervention was labelled “help” by the Soviet Union, given to Czechoslovakia in their fight against the reformist forces • “Only Indra, Kolder and Bilak (Czech politicians) seemed unsurprised by the invasion, raising the suspicion that it was they who had provided Moscow with the slim pretext for the invasion. That pretext, as described by Tass, was ‘that party and government leaders’ of Czechoslovakia ‘have asked the Soviet Union and other allied states to render the fraternal Czechoslovak people urgent assistance, including assistance with armed forces.’”---Russians Go Home! Time Magazine, August 30, 1968 Prague Spring http://library.thinkquest.org/C001155/index1.htm Quote from Time Archive 1923-Present http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19680830,00.html • The Brezhnev Doctrine demanded that no country could leave the Warsaw Pact, or compromise the communist control in any Eastern Bloc nations. • The Doctrine was used to justify the invasion of Czechoslovakia which ensued from the Prague Spring in 1968, since the liberal movement had the potential to destroy communist control in the nation. Halsall, Paul; Modern History Source Book; http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1968brezhnev.html, 1997 Consequences Citizens of Czechoslovakia fiercely resist Soviet tanks--- BBC News World: Europe Remembering the Prague Spring http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/155500.st m • Hundreds of thousands of Czechoslovaks fled to the West after the invasion. • In the political purges following, over half a million people were expelled from the Communist Party. • Dubcek was taken to Moscow to be executed; however, an agreement was made and he compromised his liberal reforms for his political position in Czechoslovakia. • The name Prague Spring was lent to the Chinese liberal revolution in the late 1970’s called the Beijing Spring.
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