Communism in the Czech Republic
Everyone who visits the Czech Republic should know that we had our bright and dark sides. We used to be a progressive country known as Czechoslovakia and our economy could have been compared to the most developed in Europe. But then the Second World War came and after it was over, our scared and desperate nation needed someone to take care of us. Unfortunately, our rescuers were the communists.
How was that possible? Czech and Slovaks supported them because they offered us and promised the change of our bad situation – in 1938 we had to hand over the Sudetenland to the Germans and also the big economic crisis from 1929 paralyzed us. The communists convinced us so we believed that everything´s going to change soon. They followed the ideology, when everything would belong to everyone, there would be no differences among people and everyone would be satisfied. That was something we really needed to hear.
So, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the democratic elections and the change launched. The year 1948 is officially dated as power takeover by the communists, Klement Gottwald led the party. Other political views and parties were dislodged, the only political view allowed was communist. The basic human rights and freedoms were violated – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the movement, freedom of the press, everything. Regime opponents were controlled, blackmailed, persecuted or imprisoned, sometimes even murdered. The trials were fabricated and manipulated. The state security (in Czech StB, abbreviation of Státní bezpečnost) was the secret police that watched the opponents and could have used cruel methods to make them do what they wanted (for example to confess or join the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia). Everyone was scared during this regime.
The most famous dissidents of the regime were Václav Havel (future president, one of the founding members of the Charter 77, an informal initiative that criticized breaking the human rights), Jan Patočka , Jiří Němec, Ludvík Vaculík, Pavel Kohout, Jiří Hájek, Ivan Jirous and more.
In 1968 came the Prague Spring, when people protested against the regime. It was an attempt to overthrow the power. Unfortunately, it didn´t work much and the situation got even worse – as a member of the Warsaw Pact troops we were asked (our government) to calm the situation by the Soviet Union, but it didn´t happen in the end because people were to determined. So, during the night between 20th and 21st August 1968, the Warsaw Pact troops came and occupied our country. The period that followed is called the Normalization – the communists became strong again and everything returned to the state before the Prague Spring.
The release came in 1989 with the Velvet Revolution that was started by the demonstrating students on the 17th November and ended with the communists fall. On the 29th December, Václav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia (the first non-communist president after 41 years).