Czechoslovakia was a prominent nation that existed between the years 1918 and 1992. On January 1st, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two sovereign nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Unlike the fate of the Yugoslavia where the dissolution was marred by civil wars and bloodshed, the dismantling of Czechoslovakia was peaceful. During its heydays, Czechoslovakia was a very prominent nation and played an influential role during the Second World War and the Cold War era.
Formation of Czechoslovakia
Prior to the First World War, the region that later came to be known as Czechoslovakia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the WW I (1918) saw the emergence of Czechoslovakia as an independent nation. Czechoslovakia, which was a democratic nation, became a prosperous country as it comprised some of the most industrial regions of the former Austria-Hungarian Empire. However, the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s had a deep impact on Czechoslovakia. In 1938, the Sudetenland, an area of Czechoslovakia primarily inhabited by Germans, was taken by Germany. The following year, the two regions of Czechoslovakia – Moravia, and Bohemia – were also occupied by Germany. The country was liberated by Soviet troops towards the end of WW II.
The transition from a democratic to a socialist state
In 1948, following a coup d’état by the Communists, Czechoslovakia became a Socialist state.
Following its transformation into a socialist state, industries were taken over by the government, while the agriculture sector was collectivized. Czechoslovakia became a part of the Eastern Bloc, which comprised of Communist countries aligned with the Soviet Union.
The 1960s witnessed a deteriorating economy which finally resulted in limited reforms. In January 1968, Alexander Dubček became the first secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. He initiated the Prague Spring, which was a short period of liberalization and resulted in the restoration of many civil liberties and the institution of an openly reformist program. Nevertheless, this phase was short-lived as Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia. This was a joint invasion by the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Alexander Dubček was arrested and transported to Moscow and all the reforms that he had enacted were done away with.
The Break-up of Czechoslovakia
The 1970s and 80s saw Czechoslovakia again become a prosperous nation. The repressive measures by the communist government created great dissatisfaction among the people, and in 1989, the Velvet Revolution took place. This led to the fall of communism and the nation adopting democracy. However, tensions and disagreements surfaced, and finally, on January 1st, 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the nations of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
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