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Czech Republic

The end of the war in Czechoslovakia came with the 'Prague Uprising' on May 5, 1945, and the subsequent liberation of Prague by the Soviet Red Army on May 9, in which nearly 150,000 Soviet troops died in the effort. The western regions of Czechoslovaki were liberated by the American army lead by General George Patton.

After the war the Communist Party slowly began to take control, industries were nationalized, and almost the entire German minority in Czechoslovakia, about 3 million people, were expelled to Germany and Austria and their property was seized.

The Communist Party was soon favored by a majority of the people, and because of the Munich (invasion) Pact, a strongly-felt dissatisfaction with the West remained, and a very favorable attitude towards the Soviet Union arose because Red Army troops had helped to liberate Prague

By 1948, the Communists secured control of key locations in Prague, and (a new) all-Communist government was formed. For the next 41 years, Czechoslovakia would remain a Communist state.

Nationalization in Czechoslovakia continued, and most of the privately owned companies became the property of the state. The economy grew during the 1950s and 1960s, but it eventually declined under Communism's socialist policies.

The so-called 'Prague Spring' began in January of 1968 when Slovak Alexander Dubcek came to power. He tried to grant additional rights to the citizens by loosening restrictions on the media, speech and travel.

In August of the year, the Soviet Union felt that the growing political freedoms in Czechoslovakia were now a threat so five Warsaw Pact member (Communist countries) invaded Czechoslovakia, and Soviet troops continued to occupy the country until 1989.

From 1968 to mid-1980s the Soviets tried to put things back to the way they were before the attempted 'Prague Spring' reform. Citizens did protest those methods, but if caught, they were treated very severely. In fact, thousands of Czechs and Slovaks were sent to prison for 'anti-state activities. Consequently, nearly 500,000 left the country.

In the late 1980's, Soviet President Gorbachev introduced policies to help reduce the corruption in the Communist Party. That move called 'Glasnost' sparked a passionate desire for freedom across the Soviet Union, and in the end, the desire for freedom from Communism caused the total collapse of Russia in 1991.

With that Russian breakdown in progress, the last years of communism where certainly on the horizon, and when the Berlin Wall finally fell in November of 1989, the non-violent 'Velvet Revolution' brought an end to communism in Czechoslovakia.

For years Slovak national aspirations were a hot button issue, and January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia. Vaclav Havel, former dissident, was elected the first president of the Czech Republic.

On its way from Communism to capitalism, the Czech Republic went through many economic reforms and privatizations. It joined NATO in 1999 and on May 1, 2004, it joined the EU along with 10 other nations.

The Czech Republic, and in particular the capital city of Prague, has become one of the major tourist destinations in Europe. Other highly-visited attractions in the Czech Republic include Karlstejn Castle, Kutna Hora, Cesky Krumlov, and the village of Lednice.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.