Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Czechoslovakia

My 1,400th blog post.  Lucky for me it still doesn't look like I'll run out of material to write about anytime soon.


Czechoslovakia would have been 100 years old this year.  The country dissolved in to the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic in 1993.  Of course, it's still funny that so many people think that Czechoslovakia still exists.
As the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart at the end of WWI, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president, founded the Republic of Czechoslovakia (RČS) on 28 October 1918.  The new country of 13,5 million people was made of up the areas of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and Carpathian Ruthenia, which contained some of the most industrialised regions of the former empire.

The First Republic lasted from 1918 to 1938.  In 1920, the country's official name was changed to the Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR).  Československo was one of the world's ten most industrialised states, the fourth in Europe, and had a thriving democracy.  After 1933, it was the only functioning democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Following the Munich Agreement and the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland.  The country also lost southern parts of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia to Hungary and part of Silesia to Poland.  This pretty much ended the First Republic and the new Second Republic only lasted for 169 days until Germany occupied the rest of the country in 1939.  From 1939 to 1945, what was left of Czechoslovakia was split into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the Slovak Republic which was set up as a Nazi puppet state.  While there was no more Czechoslovakia, a government-in-exile, the Third Republic, continued to operate from the UK.

After WWII, Czechoslovakia regained its pre-war borders except for Subcarpathian Ruthenia which was annexed by the Soviet Union.  President Beneš stripped citizenship from ethnic Germans and Hungarians who took German or Hungarian citizenship during the occupations.  The new government then confiscated the property of about 2 million ethnic Germans and expelled people from the country.  This was the background for the Brno Death March.

The country fell into the Soviet sphere of influence and became a satellite state.  From 1946 to 1948, Czechoslovakia had a coalition government until 1948 when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) seized power in a coup and eventually established the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (ČSSR).

In 1968, Alexander Dubček became First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.  He began a liberalisation period known as the Prague Spring.  It was referred to as "socialism with a human face".  This didn't go over well with Moscow and in August 1968, the Warsaw Pact (except for Romania) invaded the country and put a stop to the liberal reforms.

During the 1970s the country saw a rise of dissidents including playwright Václav Havel.  Dissidents were under the watchful eyes of the StB and faced political and economic persecution.

As communist governments began falling in 1989, the Velvet Revolution began on 17 November and lasted until 29 December.  The demonstrations brought about a peaceful end to the 41 years of one-party communist rule.

Following the Velvet Revolution the country became the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (ČSFR) which lasted until 31 December 1992.  The Velvet Divorce split the country and on 1 January 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic were established.

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