The 1968 Invasion Of Czechoslovakia Essay Research

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The 1968 Invasion Of Czechoslovakia Essay, Research Paper The 1968 Invasion of Czechoslovakia It has been 30 years since Soviet troops marched and tanks rolled down Wenceslas Square in Czechoslovakia’s capital to crush a reform movement known as Prague Spring. Alexander Dubcek’s attempts to create “socialism with a human face” are often seen as historical and ideological forerunners to Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform policies of glasnost and perestroika in the 1980s in the USSR. The events of 1968 shattered many illusions about Socialism and the Soviet system – both in Czechoslovakia and in the West. It was about 11 PM of August 20 when the Czechoslovak territory was invaded by the Soviet, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Polish military troops, altogether more than 500

thousand soldiers entered the country. At the same time, an extraordinary meeting of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC) took place in Vysocany in Prague. Alexander Dubcek, Otakar Cerny, Bohumil Simon and other leading politicians were kidnapped and taken to Moscow for political talks . The remaining leaders of the Communist Party strongly condemned the decision to invade Czechoslovakia, which broke the sovereignty of the state, and they asked citizens to remain in peace and not to resist the military troops. By doing this, they avoided bloody battles with troops, which came to Czechoslovakia to save the socialism . The events of 1968 remain alive in our remembrances even today. That is because we sensed their causes many years after 1968, and in many cases, for example in

economy, we can sense it even today. The invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops in 1968 was an event that broke the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia and returned the country calling for more democracy under a strong hand of the USSR. In 1968, there was a strong movement calling for separation of party and state. Therefore, there was a movement against Antonin Novotny, who was both First Secretary of the party and president of Czechoslovakia. Alexander Dubcek, one of the most popular politicians at that time, was the most convenient candidate for the post of First Secretary. In 1968, the Czechoslovak Party s Central Committee really voted that Novotny must give up his post as First Secretary of the party and elected Dubcek. The key features of the economy in 1960 s were the unrealistic

production targets, lack of correlation between production costs and prices, principle of full employment, that means no firing of workers (except for political reasons). All these factors cost huge economic stagnation. Leading economists began demanding freedom of speech to allow free discussion of economic problems and reforms. Dubcek was aware of these facts. He supported economic reform and political liberalization. In April 1968, Dubcek as the leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party published its reform program, titled The Action Program. The program criticized mistakes and crimes of the past, for example, Stalinism in Czechoslovakia. It proposed a complete decentralization, managerial independence, flexible market mechanisms, and legalization of small private sector,

especially in services. It also guaranteed personal freedom. People should be free to travel abroad. There was to be respect for the law and court proceedings. Dubcek believed in the need of uncensored media, so he allowed censorship to lapse. As a result, people began to speak more freely about the situation in the country. They started to criticize the past and supported reform both economic and financial. At this point, censorship disappeared from media. Many of the past mistakes and cruelties of the party were revealed. Dubcek s economic and financial reforms should improve the situation in the country and became his trademark as socialism with a human face . However, the leaders of the Soviet Union, Poland and East Germany could not understand that people of Czechoslovakia