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Alexander Dubcek

First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party

Alexander Dubcek

Alexander Dubceck was born in Uhrovec, Czechoslovakia (now in the Slovak Republic), on November 27, 1921. (His parents were immigrants living in Chicago, Illinois, when he was conceived; they returned to Czechoslovakia because his father was a pacifist and refused to serve in the military.) He spent his youth first in Slovakia, then in Kirghizia (now Kyrgystan), where his father moved the family in response to the Soviet Communist Party's call for help in building socialism in the Soviet Union. The family moved back to Slovakia in 1938.

During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Dubcek fought as part of the Slovak National Uprising.

Rising steadily through the ranks of the Communist Party, Dubcek became a member of the Central Committee of the Slovak Communist Party in 1951. The Party sent him to Moscow Political College in 1955, from which he graduated with honors in 1958. By 1962 he was a member of the Slovak and Czechoslovak Communist parties, and a full member of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

On January 5, 1968, Dubcek became First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, replacing Antonin Novotny. As First Secretary, Dubcek attempted to introduce reforms into the Communist Party and allow "Socialism with a human face." During a period now known as the Prague Spring, Dubcek tried to win popular support for the Communist Party by allowing greater freedom of expression and tolerating political and social organizations not under Communist control. Unfortunately for him and his fellow Czechs, the Soviet Communist Party disagreed with Dubcek's reforms. On August 21, Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. Dubcek and other reformists were seized, flown to Moscow, and forced to surrender to Soviet demands; he was returned to Prague on August 27. In April 1969 Dubcek was forced to resign as First Secretary. He was made Ambassador to Turkey in hopes that he would defect, but when he didn't he was expelled from the Party in 1970 and sent into internal exile as a forestry official.

Despite being ousted from his official position, Dubcek remained a popular figure in Czechoslovakia and was able to maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle in Bratislava. In November 1989, as part of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, Dubeck spoke at a rally in Bratislava on behalf of Vaclav Havel. On December 28, 1989, he was unanimously elected Chairman of the Federal Assembly; he was re-elected in 1990.

On November 7, 1992, Dubcek died of injuries sustained in a car crash several weeks earlier.

SEE ALSO
Slovak Republic
Chicago, Illinois
Vaclav Havel

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Central Europe >> Czechoslovakia >> Czechoslovak Republic, 1918-1992

This page was last updated on July 27, 2017.