What was the Prauge Spring?
- Czechoslovakia had been a successful democracy until Hitler took it over in 1939.
- Many Czechs hated this and dreamed of freedom.
- However when Hitler was defeated the Soviets ensured that by 1948 it was taken over by a Communist government.
- From 1948-1968 it was led by loyal Communist Novotny.
- By 1968 Czechs wanted more freedom in their lives. A Communist more in favour of freedom became leader- Alexander Ducbeck.
- He wanted "Communism with a human face" less censorship, more freedom of speech and lowering the power of the secret police.
- He also realised that the Soviets may try to interfere due to the events in Hungary of 1956, so he reassured Moscow that they wouldn't leave the Warsaw Pact or Comecon.
- Dubeck's changes encouraged critics of Communism to speak out,and issues were publicly debated. This atmosphere of new ideas, openess and greater freedom was known as the 'Prauge Spring'.
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How did the Soviets respond?
- Soviet leadership remebered the events of Hungary,and were highly nervous that the mood of freedom would spread to other Warsaw Pact countries.
- The Communist leaders in East Germany(Ulbricht) and Poland(Gomulka) demanded the Soviets do something about it.
- The Soviets tried sending warning signals e.g by training Warsaw Pact countries on the Czech.border.
- Again, Dubeck assured the Soviets that he was a one-party Communist state.
- Without warning, in August 1968, Soviet troops moved in, with assistance from East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria.
- Czech.didn't resist, but protests were held in Prauge and 100 were killed.
- New Czech Communist leader Husak was put in place and Dubeck was demoted and expelled from the Communist party.
- A Czech student, Jan Palach, set himself on fire in protest but gradually protest died down.
- The US condemned action but did nothing- relations with the Soviets had improved since 1962, so it wouldn't be practical to interfere.
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What was the Brezhnev Doctrine?
- In September 1968 the Soviet leader, Brezhnev, made a speech saying that any country which tried to break away from Soviet domination would be seen as a security threat to countries of the Warsaw Pact.
- The 1968 invasion and the Brezhnev Doctrine ended all attempts to reform the Communist party from within the Communist party.
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