Communist Party of Czechoslovakia

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Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.png
Fullname: Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Alias: KSČ
Foundation: May 16, 1921
Headquarters: Prague, Czechoslovakia
Commanders: Klement Gottwald (1929 - 1953)
Antonín Novotný (1953 - 1968)
Gustáv Husák (1969 - 1987)
Goals: Retain communist rule over Czechoslovakia (successful until 1989)
Crimes: Extrajudicial murder
War crimes
Ethnic cleansing
Unlawful imprisonment
Censorship
Propaganda
Mass repression

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was a Communist and Marxist–Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992. It was a member of the Comintern. Between 1929 and 1953, it was led by Klement Gottwald. After its election victory in 1946, it seized power in the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état and established a one-party state allied with the Soviet Union. Nationalization of virtually all private enterprises followed.

History

The KSC was a Communist party, based on democratic centralism, a principle conceived by Russian Marxist scholar Vladimir Lenin, entails democratic and open discussion of policy issues within the party, followed by the requirement of total unity in upholding the agreed policies.

The highest body within the KSC was the Party Congress, which convened every five years. When the Congress was not in session, the Central Committee was the highest body. Because the Central Committee met twice a year, most day-to-day duties and responsibilities were vested in the Politburo. The party leader was the head of government and held the office of either General Secretary, Premier or head of state, or some of the three offices concurrently, but never all three at the same time.

The Party was committed to communism and held Marxism–Leninism, a fusion of the original ideas of German philosopher and economic theorist Karl Marx, and Lenin, introduced by Joseph Stalin in 1929, became formalized as the party's guiding ideology and would remain so throughout the rest of its existence. The party pursued state socialism, under which all industries were nationalized, and a command economy was implemented.

In 1968, party leader Alexander Dubček proposed reforms that included a democratic process; this started a period of liberalization known as the Prague Spring in which he attempted to implement "socialism with a human face".

The Soviet Union believed the process of liberalization would end state socialism in the country and on 21 August 1968, Warsaw Pact forces invaded. Subsequently, the Soviet justification for the invasion would become known as the Brezhnev Doctrine. All reforms were repealed, party leadership became taken over by its more authoritarian wing, and a massive non-bloody purge of party members was conducted. This lead to the party being split into moderate and hardliner camps.

Moderates and pragmatists were represented by Gustáv Husák who led the neostalinist wing of KSČ leadership. As a moderate or pragmatic, he was pressed by hardliners, most notably Vasil Biľak. An important Slovak Communist Party functionary from 1943 to 1950, Husák was arrested in 1951 and sentenced to three years, later increased to life imprisonment, for "bourgeois nationalism" during the Stalinist purges of the era. Released in 1960 and rehabilitated in 1963, Husák refused any political position in Antonín Novotný's régime but after Novotný's fall he became deputy prime minister during the Prague Spring.

After Dubček's resignation Husák was named KSČ First Secretary in April 1969 and president of the republic in July 1975. Above all, Husák was a survivor who learned to accommodate the powerful political forces surrounding him and he denounced Dubček after 1969.

In 1989, the party leadership bowed to popular pressure during the Velvet Revolution and agreed to call the first contested election since 1946. In 1990, the centre-based Civic Forum won the election and the Communist Party stood down. That November, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Communist Party of Slovakia.

The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was declared to be a criminal organisation in the Czech Republic by the 1993 Act on Illegality of the Communist Regime and on Resistance Against It.