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Czechoslovakia
Československo, Česko‑Slovensko
Flag of Austria-Hungary 1869-1918.svg
1918–1992 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg
 
Flag of Slovakia.svg
 
Flag of Ukrainian SSR (1937-1949).svg
Coordinates : 50°05′N 14°28′E / 50.083, 14.467
Flag of Czechoslovakia.svg CoA CSFRc.png
Flag since 1920 Coat of arms in 1990–1992
Motto
Czech: Pravda vítězí
("Truth prevails"; 1918–1990)
Latin: Veritas Vincit
("Truth prevails"; 1990–1992)
Anthem
Kde domov můj and Nad Tatrou sa blýska
LocationCzechoslovakia.png
Capital Prague (Praha)
Languages Czech and Slovak
Government Republic
President
 -  1918–1935 Tomáš G. Masaryk (first)
 - 1989–1992 Václav Havel (last)
Prime Minister
 - 1918–1919 Karel Kramář
 - 1992 Jan Stráský
History
 -  Independence from Austria–Hungary 28 October 1918
 - German occupation 1939
 - Liberation 1945
 -  Dissolution of Czechoslovakia 31 December 1992
Area
 -  1921 140,446 km² (54,227 sq mi)
 -  1993 127,900 km² (49,382 sq mi)
Population
 -  1921 est. 13,607,385 
     Density 96.9 /km²  (250.9 /sq mi)
 -  1993 est. 15,600,000 
     Density 122 /km²  (315.9 /sq mi)
Currency Czechoslovak koruna
Internet TLD .cs
Calling code +42
Current ISO 3166-3 code:        CSHH
The calling code 42 was retired in Winter 1997. The number range was subdivided, and re-allocated amongst Czech Republic, Slovakia and Liechtenstein.

Czechoslovakia (Czech and Slovak: Československo, Česko-Slovensko[1]) was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992. From 1939 to 1945 the state did not de facto exist due to its forced division and partial incorporation into Nazi Germany, but the Czechoslovak government-in-exile nevertheless continued to exist during this period. In 1945 the eastern part of Carpathian Ruthenia was taken over by the Soviet Union. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Basic characteristicsEdit

Form of state:

Neighbours: Germany, 1945–1990, West and East Germany; Poland, from 1945; Soviet Union (1992: Ukraine); Romania (until 1939); Hungary; Austria.

Topography: The country was of generally irregular terrain. The western area was part of north-central European uplands. The eastern region was composed of northern reaches of Carpathian Mountains and Danube River basin lands.

Climate: The weather was predominantly continental, but varied from the moderate temperature of Western Europe in the west, to more severe weather of Eastern Europe and the western Soviet Union in the east.

Official namesEdit

HistoryEdit

FoundationEdit

OriginsEdit

The area was long a part of the Austro Hungarian Empire until the Empire collapsed at the end of World War I. A new state was born with Tomáš Masaryk (1850–1937) serving as the first president from 1918 to 1935. He was succeeded by his close ally, Eduard Benes (1884–1948).

The roots of Czech nationalism go back to the 19th century, when philologists and educators, influenced by Romanticism, promoted the Czech language and pride in the Czech nation. Nationalism became a mass movement in the last half of the 19th century. Taking advantage of the opportunities for limited participation in political life available under the Austrian rule, Czech leaders such as historian František Palacký (1798–1878) founded many patriotic, self-help organizations which provided a chance for many of their compatriots to participate in communal life prior to independence. At first, Palacky supported Austro-Slavism and worked for reorganized, federal, and Slavic-dominated Austrian Empire, which would protect Slavs against Russian and German threats.

The failure of the Revolution of 1848, however, crushed his hopes for Austro-Slavism. Palacky then turned gradually toward Russia and Russian-led Pan-Slavism. An advocate of democratic reform and Czech autonomy within Austria-Hungary, Masaryk was elected twice in 1891 and 1907 to the Austrian parliament. In 1900, he founded the Progressive (or Realist) party. With the outbreak of World War I, Masaryk began working for Czech independence in union with Slovakia. With Benes and Milan Stefanik, Masaryk visited several Western countries and won support from influential publicists.[3]

Bohemia and Moravia, under Austrian rule, were Czech-speaking industrial centers, while Slovakia, which was part of Hungary, was an undeveloped agrarian region. Conditions were much better for the development of a mass national movement in the Czech lands than in Slovakia. Nevertheless, the two regions united and created a new nation.

FoundingEdit

First Czechoslovak Republic

Czechoslovakia in 1928

Czechoslovakia was founded in October 1918 as one of the successor states of Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I and as part of the Treaty of Versailles. It consisted of the present day territories of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia. Its territory included some of the most industrialized regions of the former Austria-Hungary.

EthnicityEdit

The new country was a multi-ethnic state. The population consisted of Czechs (51%), Slovaks (16%), Germans (22%), Hungarians (5%) and Rusyns (4%).[4] Many of the Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Poles[5] and some Slovaks, felt oppressed, however, because the political elite did not generally allow political autonomy for minority ethnic groups. This policy, combined with increasing Nazi propaganda especially in the industrialized German speaking Sudetenland, led to unrest among the non-Czech population.

The state nonetheless proclaimed the official ideology that there are no Czechs and Slovaks, but only one nation of Czechoslovaks (see Czechoslovakism), to the disagreement of Slovaks and other ethnic groups. Once a unified Czechoslovakia was restored after World War II (after the country had been divided during the war), the conflict between the Czechs and the Slovaks surfaced again.

Czechoslovakia 1930 linguistic map - created 2008-10-30

Linguistic map of Czechoslovakia in 1930


Nationalities of Czechoslovakia 1921[6]


total population 13,607.385
Czechoslovaks 8,759.701 64.37 %
Germans 3,123.305 22.95 %
Hungarians 744.621 5.47 %
Ruthenians 461.449 3.39 %
Jews 180.534 1.33 %
Poles 75.852 0.56 %
Others 23.139 0.17 %
Foreigners 238.784 1.75 %

InterwarEdit

The period between the two world wars saw the flowering of democracy in Czechoslovakia. Of all the new states established in central Europe after 1918, only Czechoslovakia preserved a democratic government until the war broke out. The persistence of democracy suggests that Czechoslovakia was better prepared to maintain democracy than were other countries in the region. Thus, despite regional disparities, its level of development was much higher than that of neighboring states. The population was generally literate, and contained fewer alienated groups. The impact of these conditions was augmented by the political values of Czechoslovakia's leaders and the policies they adopted. Under Masaryk, Czech and Slovak politicians promoted progressive social and economic conditions that served to defuse discontent.

Foreign minister Beneš became the prime architect of the Czechoslovak-Romanian-Yugoslav alliance (the "Little Entente", 1921–38) directed against Hungarian attempts to reclaim lost areas. Beneš worked closely with France. Far more dangerous was the German element, which after 1933 became allied with the Nazis in Germany. The increasing feeling of inferiority among the Slovaks, who were hostile to the more numerous Czechs, weakened the country in the late 1930s. Many Slovaks supported an extreme nationalist movement and welcomed the puppet Slovak state set up under Hitler's control in 1939.

Munich Edit

Lidice massacred men

Innocent civilians massacred by Nazis in village Lidice, 10 June 1942,

In 1938, Hitler demanded control of the Sudetenland. Britain, and France at the Munich Conference ceded the control in the Appeasement, ignoring the military alliance Czechoslovakia had with France. In 1939, the remainder ("rump") of Czechoslovakia was invaded by Nazi Germany and divided into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the puppet Slovak State. Much of Slovakia and all of Subcarpathian Ruthenia were annexed by Hungary. Poland occupied Zaolzie, an area with Polish minority, in October 1938).

The eventual goal of German state under Nazi leadership was to eradicate Czech nationality through assimilation, deportation, and extermination of the Czech intelligentsia; the intellectual elites and middle class made up a considerable number of the 200,000 people who passed through concentration camps and the 250,000 who died during German occupation.[7] Under Generalplan Ost, it was assumed that around 50% Czechs would be fit for Germanization. The Czech intellectual elites were to be removed not only from Czech territories but from Europe completely. The authors of Generalplan Ost believed it would be best if they emigrated overseas, as even in Siberia they were considered a threat to German rule. Just like Jews, Poles, Serbs, and several other nations, Czechs were considered to be untermenschen by the Nazi state.[8]

The deportation of Jews to concentration camps was organized, and the fortress town of Terezín was made into a ghetto way station for Jewish families. On June 4, 1942, Heydrich died after being wounded by an assassin in Operation Anthropoid. Heydrich's successor, Colonel General Kurt Daluege, ordered mass arrests and executions and the destruction of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. In 1943 the German war effort was accelerated. Under the authority of Karl Hermann Frank, German minister of state for Bohemia and Moravia, some 350,000 Czech labourers were dispatched to the Reich. Within the protectorate, all non-war-related industry was prohibited. Most of the Czech population obeyed quiescently up until the final months preceding the end of the war, while thousands were involved in the resistance movement.

For the Czechs of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, German occupation was a period of brutal oppression.Czech losses resulting from political persecution and deaths in concentration camps totalled between 36,000 and 55,000. The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia (118,000 according to the 1930 census) was virtually annihilated. Many Jews emigrated after 1939; more than 70,000 were killed; 8,000 survived at Terezín. Several thousand Jews managed to live in freedom or in hiding throughout the occupation.

Communist CzechoslovakiaEdit

Spartakiáda - 1960

Spartakiad in 1960.

After World War II, prewar Czechoslovakia was re-established, with the exception of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was annexed by the Soviet Union and incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Beneš decrees were promulgated concerning ethnic Germans (see Potsdam Agreement) and ethnic Hungarians. Under the decrees, citizenship was abrogated for people of German and Hungarian ethnic origin, who had accepted German or Hungarian citizenship during the occupations. In 1948, this provision was canceled for the Hungarians, but only partially for the Germans. The government then confiscated the property of the Germans and expelled about 90% of the ethnic German population, over 2 million people. Those who remained were collectively accused of supporting the Nazis after the Munich Agreement, and 97.32% of Sudeten Germans voted for the NSDAP in the December 1938 elections. Almost every decree explicitly stated that the sanctions did not apply to antifascists, although the term antifascist was not explicitly defined. Some 250,000 Germans, many married to Czechs, some antifascists, and also those required for the post-war reconstruction of the country, remained in Czechoslovakia. The Beneš Decrees still cause controversy among nationalist groups in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Hungary.[9]

Carpathian Ruthenia was occupied by (and in June 1945 formally ceded to) the Soviet Union. In the 1946 parliamentary election, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was the winner in the Czech lands, and the Democratic Party won in Slovakia. In February 1948 the Communists seized power. Although they would maintain the fiction of political pluralism through the existence of the National Front, except for a short period in the late 1960s (the Prague Spring) the country was characterised by the absence of liberal democracy. While its economy remained more advanced than those of its neighbours in Eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia grew increasingly economically weak relative to Western Europe.

In 1968, when the reformer Alexander Dubcek was appointed to the key post of First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, there was a brief period of liberalization known as the Prague Spring. In response, after failing to persuade the Czechoslovak leaders to change course, five Eastern Bloc other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded. Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia on the night of 20–21 August 1968.[10] The General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Leonid Brezhnev viewed this intervention as vital to the preservation of the Soviet, socialist system and vowed to intervene in any state that sought to replace Marxism-Leninism with capitalism.[11] In the week after the invasion there was a spontaneous campaign of civil resistance against the occupation. This resistance involved a wide range of acts of non-cooperation and defiance: this was followed by a period in which the Czechoslovak Communist Party leadership, having been forced in Moscow to make concessions to the Soviet Union, gradually put the brakes on their earlier liberal policies.[12] In April 1969 Dubcek was finally dismissed from the First Secretaryship of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Meanwhile, one plank of the reform programme had been carried out: in 1968-9, Czechoslovakia was turned into a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic. The theory was that under the federation, social and economic inequities between the Czech and Slovak halves of the state would be largely eliminated. A number of ministries, such as education, now became two formally equal bodies in the two formally equal republics. However, the centralised political control by the Czechoslovak Communist Party severely limited the effects of federalisation.

The 1970s saw the rise of the dissident movement in Czechoslovakia, represented (among others) by Václav Havel. The movement sought greater political participation and expression in the face of official disapproval, manifested in limitations on work activities, which went as far as a ban on professional employment, the refusal of higher education for the dissidents' children, police harassment and prison.

After 1989Edit

In 1989 the Velvet Revolution restored democracy. This occurred at around the same time as the fall of communism in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland. Within three years communist rule was extirpated from Europe.

Unlike Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the end of communism in this country did not automatically mean the end of the "communist" name: the word "socialist" was removed from the name on 29 March 1990 and replaced by "federal".

In 1992, because of growing nationalist tensions, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved by parliament. On 1 January 1993 it formally separated into two completely independent countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

Heads of state and governmentEdit

International agreements and membershipEdit

After the WWII, active participant in Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), Warsaw Pact, United Nations and its specialized agencies; signatory of conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Administrative divisionsEdit

  • 1918–1923: Different systems in former Austrian territory (Bohemia, Moravia, a small part of Silesia) compared to former Hungarian territory (Slovakia and Ruthenia): three lands (země) (also called district units (obvody)): Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, plus 21 counties (župy) in today's Slovakia and two(?) counties in today's Ruthenia; both lands and counties were divided into districts (okresy).
  • 1923–1927: As above, except that the Slovakian and Ruthenian counties were replaced by six (grand) counties ((veľ)župy) in Slovakia and one (grand) county in Ruthenia, and the numbers and boundaries of the okresy were changed in those two territories.
  • 1928–1938: Four lands (Czech: země, Slovak: krajiny): Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia, divided into districts (okresy).
  • Late 1938–March 1939: As above, but Slovakia and Ruthenia gained the status of "autonomous lands".
  • 1945–1948: As in 1928–1938, except that Ruthenia became part of the Soviet Union.
  • 1949–1960: 19 regions (kraje) divided into 270 okresy.
  • 1960–1992: 10 kraje, Prague, and (from 1970) Bratislava (capital of Slovakia); these were divided into 109–114 okresy; the kraje were abolished temporarily in Slovakia in 1969–1970 and for many purposes from 1991 in Czechoslovakia; in addition, the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic were established in 1969 (without the word Socialist from 1990).

PoliticsEdit

After WWII, a political monopoly was held by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC). Gustáv Husák was elected first secretary of the KSC in 1969 (changed to general secretary in 1971) and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975. Other parties and organizations existed but functioned in subordinate roles to the KSC. All political parties, as well as numerous mass organizations, were grouped under umbrella of the National Front. Human rights activists and religious activists were severely repressed.

Constitutional developmentEdit

Czechoslovakia had the following constitutions during its history (1918–1992):

EconomyEdit

After WWII, the economy was centrally planned, with command links controlled by the communist party, similarly to the Soviet Union. The large metallurgical industry was dependent on imports of iron and non-ferrous ores.

  • Industry: Extractive industry and manufacturing dominated the sector, including machinery, chemicals, food processing, metallurgy, and textiles. The sector was wasteful in its use of energy, materials, and labor and was slow to upgrade technology, but the country was a major supplier of high-quality machinery, instruments, electronics, aircraft, airplane engines and arms to other communist countries.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture was a minor sector, but collectivized farms of large acreage and relatively efficient mode of production enabled the country to be relatively self-sufficient in food supply. The country depended on imports of grains (mainly for livestock feed) in years of adverse weather. Meat production was constrained by shortage of feed, but the country still recorded high per capita consumption of meat.
  • Foreign trade: Exports were estimated at US$17.8 billion in 1985. Exports were machinery (55%), fuel and materials (14%), and manufactured consumer goods (16%). Imports stood at estimated US$17.9 billion in 1985, including fuel and materials (41%), machinery (33%), and agricultural and forestry products (12%). In 1986, about 80% of foreign trade was with other communist countries.
  • Exchange rate: Official, or commercial, rate was crowns (Kčs) 5.4 per US$1 in 1987. Tourist, or non-commercial, rate was Kčs 10.5 per US$1. Neither rate reflected purchasing power. The exchange rate on the black market was around Kčs 30 per US$1, which became the official rate once the currency became convertible in the early 1990s.
  • Fiscal year: Calendar year.
  • Fiscal policy: The state was the exclusive owner of means of production in most cases. Revenue from state enterprises was the primary source of revenues followed by turnover tax. The government spent heavily on social programs, subsidies, and investment. Budget was usually balanced or left small surplus.

Resource baseEdit

After WWII, the country was short of energy, relying on imported crude oil and natural gas from Soviet Union, domestic brown coal, and nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Energy constraints a major factor in 1980s.

EducationEdit

Education free at all levels and compulsory from age six to fifteen. Vast majority of population literate. Highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplemented general secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

ReligionEdit

In 1991: Roman Catholics 46.4%, Evangelic Lutheran 5.3%, Atheist 29.5%, n/a 16.7%, but there were huge differences between the two constituent republics – see Czech Republic and Slovakia

Health, social welfare and housingEdit

After WWII, free health care was available to all citizens. National health planning emphasized preventive medicine; factory and local health care centers supplemented hospitals and other inpatient institutions. There was substantial improvement in rural health care during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mass mediaEdit

During Communist rule, the mass media in Czechoslovakia were controlled by the Communist Party. Private ownership of any publication or agency of the mass media was generally forbidden, although churches and other organizations published small periodicals and newspapers. Even with this information monopoly in the hands of organizations under KSČ control, all publications were reviewed by the government's Office for Press and Information.

SportsEdit

The Czechoslovakia national football team was a consistent performer on the international scene, with 8 appearances in the FIFA World Cup Finals, finishing in second place in 1934 and 1962. The team also won the European Football Championship in 1976, came in third in 1980 and won the Olympic gold 1980.

The Czechoslovak national ice hockey team won many medals from the world championships and Olympic Games. Peter Šťastný, Jaromír Jágr, Peter Bondra, Petr Klíma, Marián Gáborík, and Pavol Demitra all come from Czechoslovakia.

Emil Zátopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals in athletics, is considered one of the top athletes in history.

Věra Čáslavská was an Olympic gold medallist in gymnastics, winning seven gold medals and four silver medals, and represented Czechoslovakia in three consecutive Olympics.

The famous tennis players Ivan Lendl, Miloslav Mečíř, Daniela Hantuchová and Martina Navrátilová were born in Czechoslovakia.

CultureEdit

Postage stampsEdit

Timeline: From creation to dissolutionEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

SourcesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Ján Kačala: Máme nový názov federatívnej republiky (The New Name of the Federal Republic), In: Kultúra Slova (official publication of the Slovak Academy of Sciences Ľudovít Štúr Institute of Linguistics) 6/1990 pp. 192-197". http://juls.savba.sk/ediela/ks/1990/6/ks1990-6.lq.pdf. 
  2. ^ Votruba, Martin. "Czecho-Slovakia or Czechoslovakia". Slovak Studies Program. University of Pittsburgh. http://www.pitt.edu/~votruba/qsonhist/spellczechoslovakia.html. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  3. ^ Z. A. B. Zeman, The Masaryks: The Making of Czechoslovakia (1976)
  4. ^ "The War of the World", Niall Ferguson Allen Lane 2006.
  5. ^ Playing the blame game, Prague Post, 6 July 2005
  6. ^ Škorpila F. B.; Zeměpisný atlas pro měšťanské školy; Státní Nakladatelství; second edition; 1930; Czechoslovakia
  7. ^ Universities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1800-1945)Walter Rüegg Cambridge University Press (October 28, 2004) page 353
  8. ^ HITLER'S PLANS FOR EASTERN EUROPE Selections from Janusz Gumkowkski and Kazimierz Leszczynski POLAND UNDER NAZI OCCUPATION
  9. ^ East European Constitutional Review
  10. ^ "Russia Invades Czechoslovakia: 1968 Year in Review, UPI.com"
  11. ^ John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (New York: The Penguin Press),150.
  12. ^ Philip WIndsor and Adam Roberts, Czechoslovakia 1968: Reform, Repression and Resistance (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969), pp. 97-143.

Further readingEdit

  • Heimann, Mary. Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed (2009). the best scholarly history in English, but with a negative tone stressing maltreatment of minorities.
  • Hermann, A. H. A History of the Czechs (1975)
  • Kalvoda, Josef. The Genesis of Czechoslovakia (1986)
  • Leff, Carol Skalnick. National Conflict in Czechoslovakia: The Making and Remaking of a State, 1918-87 (1988)
  • Mantey, Victor. A History of the Czechoslovak Republic (1973)
  • Myant, Martin. The Czechoslovak Economy, 1948-88 (1989)
  • Naimark, Norman, and Leonid Gibianskii, eds. The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944-1949 (1997) online edition
  • Paul, David. Czechoslovakia: Profile of a Socialist Republic at the Crossroads of Europe (1990)
  • Renner, Hans. A History of Czechoslovakia since 1945 (1989)
  • Seton-Watson, R. W. A History of the Czechs and Slovaks (1943)
  • Stone, Norman, and E. Strouhal, eds.Czechoslovakia: Crossroads and Crises, 1918-88 (1989)
  • Wheaton, Bernard; Zdenek Kavav. "The Velvet Revolution: Czechoslovakia, 1988-1991". (1992)
  • Williams, Kieran, 'Civil Resistance in Czechoslovakia: From Soviet Invasion to "Velvet Revolution", 1968-89', in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Windsor, Philip, and Adam Roberts, Czechoslovakia 1968: Reform, Repression and Resistance. (1969)
  • Wolchik, Sharon L. Czechoslovakia: Politics, Society, and Economics (1990)
  • online books and articles

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