The Prague Spring 1968

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The Prague Spring 1968
The Czech leader, Novotny, a hard line communist and Soviet ‘puppet’, he was very unpopular. The Czech economy was in a mess, and seemed to be run purely for the benefit of the USSR. Dubcek, a reforming communist, replaced Novotny. Brezhnev, leader of the USSR, supported this move. Dubcek promised the people socialism with a human face, and launched a series of reforms known as the Prague Spring. The reforms aimed to improve standard of living, allow for greater freedom and democracy, and introduce trade with West Germany. Dubcek tried to reassure Brezhnev that his changes wouldn’t threaten the USSR and that Czechoslovakia wouldn’t leave the Warsaw Pact.

Dubcek promised the people ‘socialism with a human face’, and launched a series of reforms known as the Prague Spring. The reforms aimed to improve standard of living, allow for a greater freedom and democracy, and introduce trade with West Germany. Dubcek tried to reassure Brezhnev that his changes wouldn’t threaten the USSR and that Czechoslovakia wouldn’t leave the Warsaw Pact.

Brezhnev was unconvinced. He was worried that Czechoslovakia, which had the strongest industry in the Soviet Bloc, would leave the Warsaw Pact – allowing NATO to move in. The reforms, and increased contact with the West, might spread across the satellite states. The Soviet Bloc and the WP might collapse, and the USSR would no longer have its buffer zone. The other Warsaw Pact countries also objected to the reforms. In August 1968, 500,000 troops from the WP countries invaded Czechoslovakia. There was only a little violent protest. The Czechs remembered what had happened to the rebels in Hungary in 1956. So the Czechs responded to the invasion with sit ins, demos etc. However, Russian tanks were attacked with petrol bombs, and one student, Jan Palach, set himself on fire as a protest against Soviet occupation.

A new leader replaced Dubcek, called Husak. He reverted Czechoslovakia to strict communist rule....
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