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But in those socialist countries, as in our country, there are complex processes, very complex processes. This rebuilding is not an simple process, really it’s not easy. This is a process, I would say, in which not everyone is sufficiently familiar with, and a process into which enemies can enter. And at first they look like friends, a least for a while.

From a speech by Milouš Jakeš to regional party functionaries in Červený Hrádek (17 th of July, 1989)

Due to the need for change, the Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on easing of international tensions with a period of détente, economic reform (perestroika) and liberalisation (glasnost). Gorbachev sought to take reform efforts to other Eastern Bloc states, which were sinking into a deep systemic crisis. The leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, however, accepted Soviet demands with apparent reluctance and allowed cautious changes only in the economic and cultural spheres The political environment did not have to change fundamentally. Soviet policy, the domino effect of changes in neighbouring states, coupled with the growing dissatisfaction and failure to live up to public expectations, as well as the chaotic nature of the Communist Party leadership and the growing influence of the opposition movement resulted in the fall of the communist regime.

Odstupující generální tajemník ÚV KSČ Miloš Jakeš (stojící vpravo) blahopřeje Karlu Urbánkovi ke zvolení do funkce generálního tajemníka ÚV KSČ na mimořádném zasedání ÚV KSČ 24.listopadu 1989. Uprostřed vykukuje šéfredaktor Rudého Práva Zdeněk Hoření.

After the war, Miloš Jakeš (1922-2020) worked in leading positions of the party apparatus and the executive. As chairman of the Central Control and Revision Commission of the Communist Party, he oversaw party purges and was part of the Communist Party’s standardization leadership. He profiled himself as a driven and disciplined technocrat, but when he reached the position of party boss in December 1987, he lacked authority. At the end of 1989, he was forced to resign from all political positions and from the Communist Party. In the picture from November 24, 1989, he congratulates his successor, the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Karel Urbánek (ČTK / photo: Karel Mevald)

Sovětský politik, generální tajemník ÚV KSSS  Michail Gorbačov mezi Pražany na pěší zóně u Jungmannova náměstí při své návštěvě v Praze 9.4.1987.

The first official visit of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Mikhail Gorbachev, to Czechoslovakia raised great hopes for change, which, however, did not materialize. The Soviet guest is pictured amongst Prague people, 9th of April, 1987 (CTK)

Manifestace ke 41.výročí Vítězného února na Staroměstském náměstí v Praze se tradičně zúčastnily jednotky Lidových milicí. Na snímku: seřazení milicionáři s transparentem "Kupředu, zpátky ni krok".

Demonstration for the 41st anniversary of the February coup in the Old Town Square,
23rd of February 1989 (ČTK / photo: Karel Mevald)

Cover of the identity card of a member of the Communist Party and affixed party stamps for the year 1989 (archive of Jaroslav Čvančara)

Internal party information intended for selected members of the Communist Party (January 1989)


Václav Jirásek, Probuď se duše česká (Wake up Czech soul).
1989, b/w photography
16,5 X 22,5 cm (MG)