What did the events of Czechoslovakia i Essay

Submitted By Collins725
Words: 2613
Pages: 11

Student name:
James Collins


Stage 2
Seminar leader:
Dr R Hornsby

Module code:
Essay title:
What did the events of Czechoslovakia in 1968 say about communism in Eastern Europe?
School of History
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What did the events of Czechoslovakia in 1968 say about communism in Eastern Europe?
The Prague spring of 1968 would only further show to the world the oppressive nature of Communism, after the previous major crackdown in 1956 in Hungary. What showed was that the Soviet Union was not willing to contemplate any member of the Warsaw Pact leaving it. The tanks that rolled through the streets of Prague reaffirmed to the West and indeed the citizens of Eastern Europe that the communism that existed in most of Eastern Europe was oppressive and uncompromising. To Moscow, what they had ordered ensured the Warsaw Pact was maintained, something that they considered was vital to the survival of communism in Europe as a whole. By looking at a range of sources, it is clear as well as communism being oppressive, 1968 highlighted the divide amongst communist states, with Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania opposing the invasion of Czechoslovakia. What is clear was that the events of 1968 only served to forestall the inevitable collapse of communism, as these events showed communisms uncompromising ways in Eastern Europe.
‘The de-Stalinization of the 1950s ended in a massive and shameful failure. The soviet-type systems of Eastern Europe were moving nowhere politically and by the early 1960’s; their economies were showing this too’1. This was true, showing already the stagnant nature of Communism which would eventually lead to its downfall as the west progressed. By the mid-1960s, the Soviet leaders were tired of paying heavy subsidies to support the Eastern European economies, so economic reform was needed. However, Communist reformers quickly realised that economic reforms also required changes in the totalitarian political system. Dubcek tried to create ‘socialism with a human face’, and from that came the Action Programme, a political plan suggesting that the Czechoslovakia find its own path towards mature socialism rather than follow the Soviet Union. Even within this programme, we can see the nature of communism, as ‘Dubcek was careful to use the language of revision, rather than reform’2. The careful selection of language used by Dubcek shows the way in which communism works in most states of Eastern Europe, Dubcek had to be careful as to not anger the Soviets for fear of a repeat of 1956 in Hungary. This is further supported by Killingsworth, who states that ‘not only was Czechoslovakia domestically totalitarian, but it was also dominated by an external force, the Soviet Union’3. The need to moderate the language so as not to upset the soviets only serves to further reinforce the argument that policies in Eastern European states were made in a way to maintain the approval of the Soviet Union, which kept the Soviets in complete control. East European leaders tended to do what they were told by the Soviets, as many relied on Moscow’s influence in helping them remain in power, paying more attention to following Soviet examples than to solving domestic problems. When Dubcek tried to go on his own, he was eventually stopped with the Warsaw pact invasion, stating that what had ‘worried the Soviet Politbureau most about Prague had been our tendency toward independence: that I did not send him my speeches in advance for review, that I did not ask his permission for personnel changes’4. This showed the