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Normalization

The entry of the united troops of the five socialist countries into Czechoslovakia was an act of international solidarity that corresponded to the common interests of the Czechoslovak workers and the international working class, as well as the socialist community and the class interests of the world communist movement. This international action saved the lives of thousands of people, ensured the internal and external conditions for their calm and peaceful work, strengthened the western borders of the socialist camp and thwarted the hopes of imperialist circles for a revision of the results of World War II.

An example from Lessons from crisis development in the party and society after the XIII. Congress of the Communist Party (December 1970).

After the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia proceeded to negate the reformist policies of the Prague Spring and to normalize the situation, (normalization, as it was then referred to) including party purges, demonstrative displays of loyalty to the USSR and persecution of opponents of the regime. An integral part of the Communist Party’s rule was the demonstration of power through centrally organized mass events that were held throughout the forty years. This mainly concerned elections, mayday celebrations, Spartakiady (mass gymnastic displays) and various anniversaries.
The second half of the communist regime was characterized by unchanging conditions, economic stagnation and the stabilization of the personnel serving in leading party and state positions. In this context, there is often talk of the gerontocracy, i.e. the rule of the elderly. Lubomír Štrougal was the head of the federal government in the years 1970-1988. Membership in the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was understood as more matter of fact than in previous decades. On the other hand, even after 1968, there were political trials, and an extensive wave of exiles and propaganda campaigns.

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After August 1968, a new wave of purges ensued, affecting several hundred thousand members of the Communist Party. Among the persecuted was also the former chairman of the National Front, František Kriegel (1908-1979), who was the only one who refused to sign the Surrender Protocol in Moscow in August 1968. Like many other former supporters of the communist regime, he joined the opposition movement. He was one of the first to sign Charter 77 (Libri prohibiti / photo: Jiří Bednář)

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Welcoming of North Korean leader Kim-Ir-sen in Prague, 6th of June, 1984 (National Archive)

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XIV. the Congress of the Communist Party takes place
in May 1971. It marked the end of the party purges. Only a quarter of the members of the previous leadership retained their positions in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (60 years of Gustáv Husák).

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The first page of the report on contact between the Czechoslovak and Polish communists in 1971 addressed to the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Gustav Husák (National Archive)

Gustáv Husák (1913-1991) studied law and worked as an intellectual in the inter war period. He took part in resistance activities and after the war he was one of Slovakia’s leading communists. Although he established the totalitarian order, he was accused of bourgeois nationalism in the early 1950s and imprisoned for nine years. After an amnesty in 1960 and his subsequent rehabilitation, he worked as a historian. He pushed for the federalization of the republic, but he was also the main face of the normalization of Czechoslovakia after the invasion by Warsaw Pact troops in August. In April 1969 he became the head of the Communist Party and in May 1975 he was elected President of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Pictured with Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev on February 24, 1973 in the Old Town Square during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the February coup (Gustav Husak)

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Members of the Presidium and Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, May 1982 (Gustáv Husák)