Prague Under the Communist Regime

After the War Czechoslovakia found itself as a free country once again, led by President Beneš until the onset of the Cold War. The Cold War though led to many in Czechoslovakia voicing their desire to model themselves on the Communist ideology that was beginning to gain prevalence throughout the rest of the region and, over a period of just a few years, the Communist voices became louder and louder until, in 1948, Beneš resigned from his position and allowed the Communist party to assume control of the country, with Klement Gottwald taking over the Presidency.

When the Communist Party took over, the 3.5 million ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia were forcibly removed back to Germany, despite the fact that their ancestors had lived in Czechoslovakia for many generations. In one area where this happened – Sudetenland – the political and social ramifications of this act are still being felt today, with a number of discussions still remaining about the legality of the act, as well as the ethics behind it.

The Communist Party was in power for 41 years, from 1948 through to 1989, and throughout this period not much happened in terms of politics in the country. Nearly all private property was taken by the government and the freedoms that many in Western Europe enjoyed were taken from the ordinary Czech citizens. The country was controlled through a manifesto of fear and people were afraid to speak out against those who ruled them with this iron fist. 

Prague Under the Communist Regime

The only event that occurred during this long period of rule to inspire hope within the hearts of the Czech people occurred in 1968 and is known as the Prague Spring Uprising. This was spurred on by the call from President Alexander Dubček to give socialism a “human face” and caused huge amounts of people to attend rallies and protests in support of the idea. Shortly after this though Dubček was requested to visit Moscow and, when he returned, all ideas of this plan were dropped, as Russian tanks rolled through the streets of Prague to break up those supporting the policy. This also led to the removal of Dubček from power, to be replaced by Gustav Husák, who would lead the country throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

Although the repression of the Prague Spring Uprising meant that the public face of the resistance was removed, it did still continue underground though. A group called Charter 77 emerged and they would monitor the political system until the fall of Communism.


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Prague Spring 1968

Early in 1968, Antonín Novotný – a politician known for his hard line stance – was replaced as the First Secretary of the Communist Party by the reformist figure of Alexander Dubček, a Slovak. This appointment of a man who had risen through the ranks of the Communist Party undoubtedly shocked the leaders in Russia. Perhaps the most shocking part of his beliefs was that he nearly went as far as to suggest that Czechoslovakia be transformed into a social-democratic state.