Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring

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  • Czechoslovakia and the Prague Spring
    • A relaxation of control in Czechoslovakia led to a challenge to Soviet authority, like Hungary
    • The Impact of the Soviet rule in Czechoslovakia
      • Economy and living standards declined
      • Any opposition to communism was crushed
      • Communist rule became very unpopular
    • Alexander Dubcek
      • Jan 1968 Dubcek became leader
      • Good friend of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
      • Communist and supporter of Warsaw Pact but wanted to make communism better and easier to live under
        • He called this 'socialism with a human face
      • His reforms resulted in the 'Prague Spring' - a period of increased political freedom (Apr 1968) and lots of criticism of communism resulted
    • Dubcek's reforms
      • Relaxation of censorship meant more freedom to say and write things even if it was critical of communism
      • More democracy allowed other parties along the Communist Party
      • More power given to Czechoslovakian parliament and Soviet control was redued
      • Economy reformed with 'market socialism' allowing for the introduction of some capitalist elements.
      • Powers of secret police reduced
    • How Czechoslovakia responded to reforms
      • Students, intellectuals, workers and young members of the Communist Party welcomed Dubcek's reforms enthusiastically
      • Led to writers such as Vaclav Havel and Milan Kundera, that were highly critical of Soviet-style communism
    • How the rest of the communism world responded to reforms
      • Horrified many older Czechoslovakian communities, felt it would lead to collapse of communism in country
      • Brezhnev and other eastern European communist (e.g. Eric Honecker - leader of E. Germany), were especially concerned, feared would lead to demands of reforms elsewhere, threatening communist rule
      • Brezhnev had a dilemma
        • Dubcek was a friend and military action would damage Soviet reputation
        • However, if he did nothing, expectations would rise and the whole Eastern bloc may collapse

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