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Seizing Power

I swear that with my dedication at work and in the fight against the enemies of the working people, as well as by my devotion to the cause of socialism, I will be an example to all other citizens. I swear that I will take care of the internal security of the People’s Democratic Republic of Czechoslovakia, protect socialist lawfulness, observe discipline at work, guard socialist property, and I am willing to sacrifice my blood and even my life to fulfil this task in order to achieve complete victory over the enemy.

From the oath of membership to the People's Militia (1953).

Since taking office in April 1945, the Communist Party has sought, with significant Soviet help, to control the key power institutions necessary in order to seize and maintain power. It created a parallel system of power within the secretariat of the Central Committee, which managed communist cells both in individual ministries and in the state apparatus. The Ministry of Information became a specific power wielding body, fundamentally influencing all Czechoslovak media and determining the framework of state propaganda. With their long-term approach, President Edvard Beneš and other representatives of democratic parties helped the Communists to take power relatively smoothly.
The key pillars to the power of the communist regime were the departments of the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of National Defence, particularly the National and State Security, the Border Guard, the Internal Troops, the People’s Militia, the Czechoslovak People’s Army and in the Ministry of Justice the Prison Guard Corps. A significant role was played by Soviet advisors. Through the apparatus of the Communist Party, the party leadership promoted and spread its policies from the centre through to local cells. The individual departments of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, under the responsibility of the Central Secretary and his deputies (secretaries), were focused on organizational, instructional

and personnel affairs, public administration, mass organizations, international affairs, economy and industry, agriculture and food, culture and ideology, education and science. The secretariat included party control bodies, economic and technical administration, etc. An essential tool for controlling both the state and society was the classification system for approving candidates for leading governmental, economic, political and social positions.

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The deployment of SNB (National security corps) units on Wenceslas Square on February 25, 1948 proves the readiness of the February coup (ABS)

On February the 25th 1948, Klement Gottwald announced to the participants of a demonstration on Wenceslas Square that President Edvard Beneš had agreed to an overhaul of the government. Rudolf Slánský also came with him in the back seat of a government car (Victorious February in photography)

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The only public anti communist event on February the 25th 1948 was a student march to Prague Castle. It was stopped in Nerudova Street by a cordon of SNB and the People’s Militia members, as shown in this rare picture by photographer Jiří Ployhar
(History of Charles University)

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Participants of the gathering on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the February coup on the Old Town Square (Solid party support)

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Propaganda poster commemorating the February coup, 1983 (MXX)