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Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945 2e

Alexander Dubček

Alexander Dubček (1921-92) was born in Uhrovec, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) and raised in Kirghizia (now Kyrgystan) where his parents had moved. In 1938 he joined the Communist Party of Slovakia and, during the Nazi occupation, fought for the underground resistance. Dubček joined the Central Committee of the Communist Party in 1955 and by 1962 Dubček was a full member. The Czechoslovak economy in the 1960s was in serious decline and the imposition of central control from Prague disappointed local communists. In 1967, a number of reformers challenged First Secretary Antonin Novotný at a Central Committee meeting. Failing to secure support from either his fellow Communists or from Moscow, Novotný was forced to resign. Dubček became the new First Secretary on 5 January 1968. From March to August 1968, a period termed the Prague Spring, Dubček attempted to liberalise the government and allow ‘socialism with a human face’. The Prague Spring ended on 21 August when Soviet forces entered Prague. Dubček and other key reformers were taken to Moscow where they were forced to accede to Soviet demands. Dubček was returned to Prague on 27 August and retained his post as First Secretary for a while. In April 1969 he lost that position and was made ambassador to Turkey (1969-1970) before being expelled from the party in 1970. During the Velvet Revolution of 1989 Dubček supported the Civic Forum of Václav Havel and was elected speaker of the Federal Assembly on 28 December 1989. He died following a car crash on 7 November 1992.