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IPFS News Link • History

How the Prague Spring Led to the Fall of Communism

•, Doug Bandow

Czechoslovakia was the first victim of Nazism, which lost its outer geographic defenses at the 1938 Munich conference and was wholly swallowed a few months later by Adolf Hitler. As the war raced to its cataclysmic conclusion, Germans treated Czechoslovakia as a final redoubt. Prague suffered the last major battle of the conflict and fell only in early May. Indeed, some fighting continued after Germany's surrender on May 8.

Alas, "liberation" led to more tyranny. It took a bit of extra effort for the Soviet Union to impose unpopular communist rule on the Central European country after the end of World War II. The USSR gained some advantage from its perception as a liberator, but more important was the local Communist Party's ruthless drive for power, which culminated in a coup d'etat in 1948. Free thought and action were eliminated as hardliners extended their control. In Czechoslovakia, in contrast to the Soviet Union, Stalinism outlived Stalin.

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