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Definition: Dubček, Alexander from Philip's Encyclopedia

Czechoslovak statesman, Communist Party secretary (1968-69). Dubček was elected party leader at the start of the Prague Spring. His liberal reforms led to a Soviet invasion in August 1968, and Dubček was forced to resign and expelled from the party. Following the collapse of Czech communism, he was publicly rehabilitated and served as speaker of the federal parliament (1989-92).


Summary Article: Dubček, Alexander from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Czechoslovak politician, chair of the federal assembly 1989–92. He was a member of the Slovak resistance movement during World War II, and became first secretary of the Communist Party 1967–69. He launched a liberalization campaign (called the Prague Spring) that was opposed by the USSR and led to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He was arrested by Soviet troops and expelled from the party in 1970. In 1989 he gave speeches at pro-democracy rallies, and after the fall of the hardline regime, he was elected speaker of the National Assembly in Prague, a position to which he was re-elected in 1990. He was fatally injured in a car crash in September 1992.

The son of Slovak communists who had earlier emigrated briefly to the USA, Dubček grew up and was educated in the USSR. A committed socialist, he returned to Czechoslovakia in 1938 and fought as a Slovak patriot against the Nazis 1944–45. In 1939 he joined the Communist Party and gradually rose through its hierarchy, becoming chief secretary of the regional committee in 1953 and first secretary of the Slovak Communist Party's Central Committee in 1963. As Czechoslovakia's Communist Party leader from January 1968, he sought to popularize the system by introducing liberalizing economic, political and cultural reforms, dubbed ‘socialism with a human face’. This reform movement was crushed in August 1968 when Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia.

Initially, Dubček cooperated with the post-invasion, Soviet-directed ‘normalization’ process, but in 1969 was replaced as party leader by the more conservative Gustáv Husák. He served briefly as Czechoslovakia's ambassador to Turkey, but in 1970 was expelled from the Communist Party. Political banishment for two decades followed, with Dubček working as a clerk for the Slovakian forestry ministry. Though disenchanted with the cautious, stifling Husák regime, he retained his faith in the socialist dream and did not join the Charter 77 dissident movement formed by playwright Václav Havel. He returned to prominence in November 1989, appearing with Havel on the balcony overlooking Prague's Wenceslas Square to acclaim the downfall of the communist regime.

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Dubček, Alexander

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