Dubcek's Balancing Act: The Struggle to Preserve Reform and Revolution in Czechoslovakia, 1968-1969

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Title: Dubcek's Balancing Act: The Struggle to Preserve Reform and Revolution in Czechoslovakia, 1968-1969
Author: Cohen, Matthew D.
Advisor: Kitroeff, Alexander; Gerstein, Linda
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: When Alexander Dubcek took over the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1968, he embarked on an ambitious reform program meant to create a better relationship between the Party and the people of Czechoslovakia. The reform program guaranteed liberties and freedoms that had been denied by the previous Communist regimes, the country embraced Dubcek and his reforms as a symbol of hope. The Soviet Union leadership, drawing upon their previous experience with Hungary in 1956, felt threatened by the reforms in what they considered a "satellite state", as non-Communist parties formed and the press used their new freedoms to criticize the Soviet Union. The Soviets sought to ensure that the Communist Party would retain its leading role in governing the state, and demanded that the Soviet Union retain its influence with the Czechoslovakian Communist Party. The conflict between Dubcek's reforms and Soviet pressure resulted in the August 21st Invasion of Czechoslovakia by its Warsaw Pact allies, in order to prevent what they saw as counter-revolution from going any further. The invasion failed to depose the reformist leadership due to the outpouring of popular support they received from the nation. The Soviet leadership then opted to instead slowly erode Dubcek's political position, so that months after the Invasion Dubcek was the only reformer left among the Party leadership. Dubcek struggled against the Soviet pressure to "normalize" the situation and abandon the reform program, by using his personal authority among the people to maintain calm and order without restricting their freedoms. Eight months after the Invasion though, in April 1969, it became apparent that Dubcek would be unable to hold his political position against the more opportunistic members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Dubcek resigned and his successor, Gustav Husak, immediately reduced the reforms to a distant dream, not to be realized for two more decades.
Subject: Czechoslovakia -- History -- Intervention, 1968
Subject: Czechoslovakia -- Politics and government -- 1968-1989
Subject: Czechoslovakia -- History -- 1968-1989
Subject: Dubček, Alexander, 1921-
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Cohen, Matthew D.. "Dubcek's Balancing Act: The Struggle to Preserve Reform and Revolution in Czechoslovakia, 1968-1969". 2012. Available electronically from

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