Parcels with explosive devices were delivered to Masaryk).

Parcels with explosive devices were delivered to Masaryk).

The communists who took part in the discussion also used the thesis of a specific, national path to socialism, but they invariably relied on Marxist-Leninist theory and the USSR.

In 1947, Soviet pressure on Czechoslovakia intensified. Because the first Soviet message on the conclusion of the Czechoslovak-Polish treaty did not achieve the desired result, Stalin and Molotov sent to Gottwald, so to speak, directive instructions – on the need to sign an agreement with Poland.

On March 10, 1947, the Polish-Czechoslovak agreement was signed in Warsaw, although the question of borders was never resolved. In the first half of this year, Benes sought to conclude a Czechoslovak-French alliance treaty. The Czechoslovak government offered the French side a model Czechoslovak-Soviet treaty of December 1943. The French made a counter-proposal for a Franco-British treaty of March 1947, which did not contain a formula for immediate assistance in the event of German aggression and mention of the Allies. The Czechoslovak Communists, taking a course to curtail ties with the West, opposed such a wording of the agreement and received Moscow’s support.

Most likely, this was only an excuse to disrupt the signing of the treaty, because the obligations of “immediate assistance” were not contained in the Soviet-French treaty. Because the Czechoslovak Democrats failed to achieve political rapprochement with Western countries, they hoped to expand economic ties with them. In June 1947, US Secretary of State D. Marshall came up with a plan for economic aid to post-war Europe. The Czechoslovak government unanimously decided to take part in the Paris meeting under the Marshall Plan.

Benes also spoke in favor of accepting the invitation to the meeting. However, a few days later, during a Czechoslovak government delegation’s visit to Moscow, Stalin categorically stated the Soviet Union’s negative attitude toward the meeting, insisting on Czechoslovakia’s immediate refusal to invite him.

Czechoslovak representatives were once again forced to accept the dictates of the USSR. Instead, however, as always, the expansion of economic cooperation and trade with the Soviet Union was promised. Despite the difficult economic situation in their country, Soviet leaders did not skimp on Czechoslovakia’s aid in grain and raw materials for industry, in order to maintain its political influence here.

The internal political struggle in the Czechoslovak Republic intensified. This time the focus was on the proposals of the Minister of Agriculture – Communist Durysh as soon as possiblee end of confiscation of land and their division (now it was about allotments of more than 50 hectares). Despite the resistance of the National Socialists, the People’s Party and the Democratic Parties, by the summer of 1947 the Communists had succeeded in passing agricultural laws in the National Assembly. The Ministry of Justice, headed by the National Socialist P. Drtina, tried, on the contrary, to organize the transfer of confiscated enterprises to their former owners, because nationalized enterprises often became unprofitable and unprofitable.

At the center of the political struggle was also the trial of J. Tiso. The Slovak Communists advocated the death sentence for a senior official of the Slovak Republic, and members of the Democratic Party opposed it. Even some communists considered the trial unpopular with the people and doubted that Tiso’s execution would strengthen the Communists’ position among the masses. However, the Consul General of the USSR in Bratislava N. Demyanov during a conversation with the head of the Corps of Commissioners G. Gusak convinced the latter that the death sentence Tiso has great political significance and will only raise the authority of the Communist Party in Slovakia.

The court sentenced Tiso to death. He was accused of participating in the partition of Czechoslovakia, abolishing democratic rights and freedoms in Slovakia and establishing a totalitarian regime there, actively opposing the Slovak national uprising, involving Slovakia in the war with Poland, the USSR and Western powers, and approving and participating in the deportation of Jews. … Tiso’s lawyers sent a request for pardon. Benes believed that Tiso deserved the most punishment, but wrote in a letter to Gottwald that “out of humanity” as president, he was ready to approve the request for pardon, provided that the government would do the same.

The fact is that the supporters of the pardon pointed to the possibility of deteriorating Czech-Slovak relations in connection with the execution of Tiso, which in Slovakia could be interpreted as a massacre of supporters of the idea of ​​Slovak. The Czechoslovak government rejected the request for pardon by a majority, and the sentence was carried out.

The Czechoslovak communists fought against any manifestation of disagreement with their policies, using all sorts of methods, threatening mass strikes and demonstrations, campaigning in the press to discredit their political opponents, without hesitation to resort to slander and demagoguery. They set a course to split the parties of National Socialists and Social Democrats, limiting the influence of other political associations. A fierce campaign was launched against Democratic Party figures accused of conspiratorial subversion and separatism. Other political parties have also begun trying to step up their activities.

In the spring of 1947, the XI Congress of the National Socialist Party took place. Preparations for it were under the slogan “There is no socialism without democracy” “Let’s keep the spiritual unity of the people.” At the congress itself, demands were made for the protection of the private sector.

By mid-1947, the anti-communist opposition had come to the conclusion that unification was necessary. In the summer, the National Socialists signed an agreement with representatives of the Democratic Party and, in September, of the People’s Party on joint action against the Communists.

Even the right and centrists in the Social Democratic Party have become inclined to support the opposition. However, the weakness of the opposition was that it acted by traditional parliamentary methods. Benes, certainly sympathetic to the opposition, took the position of a supra-party force, actively and openly not speaking in support of the anti-communists, although his influence in the country was very large. According to opinion polls, he ranked first among politicians trusted by the population (while, for example, the official leader of the National Socialist Party, P. Zenkl, is only 12th on the list).

A single bloc of democratic forces could not be created due to contradictions within the parties themselves, inter-party disputes, different views on the state and legal organization and relations between the Czechs and Slovaks. Many Democrats were disappointed with the West’s position, intimidated by the undemocratic methods of political struggle within the country (for example, Deputy Prime Minister P. Zenkl, Justice Minister P. Drtine and Foreign Minister J. Masaryk were delivered parcels with explosive devices).

In September 1947, a meeting of the Communist Parties of Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Italy, France, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the USSR was held in Poland, at which the Information Bureau (Cominform) was established, stating that the world had split into two camps. imperialist “and” anti-imperialist “. The Czechoslovak Communists are stepping up the struggle to sever ties with the West and limit the influence of the” right “in the country. At the center of the struggle at this time was the introduction of a tax on millionaires.At first, the Communists’ proposal to reject it was rejected, but later, when it was supported by the Social Democrats, it was accepted by the government. In the autumn of 1947 there was a split among the Social Democrats.

In November, Z. Firlinger resigned as chairman and was replaced by B. Laushman, who resigned from the government, but this inadvertently led to the strengthening of the pro-communist Social Democrats in the government. That same autumn, the left-wing opposition within the National Socialists emerged.

The culmination of the political confrontation was the government crisis of February 1948, when 12 of the 26 ministers resigned, hoping to change the cabinet. Benes initially promised not to accept their resignation. What made the president change his mind: fear of civil war in the country, awareness of the insignificance of the chances of success, because there was no real power behind him, and there may be illness, lack of strength to resist, associated with a serious illness of the president?

Probably all these factors played a role. Benes signed the resignation of ministers and agreed to keep the government of Gottwald in a renewed composition. During the February crisis, a delegation of Polish socialists was present in Prague, persuading the Czechoslovak Social Democrats to support the HRC. Some researchers believe that this was one of the main factors that resolved the crisis in favor of the Communists. Be that as it may, the crisis ended in a communist coup.

On March 10, 1948, Gottwald announced the program of a new government. The purge of the state apparatus from activists opposed to the Communists began. Cleanings took place even in trade unions and youth organizations. The law on seizure and division of land over 50 hectares was approved, and industrial enterprises with more than 50 employees were nationalized. In May, the National Assembly approved a new Constitution of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, which enshrined the results of the communist coup. Benes considered it undemocratic, refused to sign and decided to resign. Under pressure from Gottwald, he agreed that the official reason for his resignation would be poor health. A few months later, Benes passed away.

E. Beneš’s ideas about the post-war development of Czechoslovakia were realized. The president set himself the task of balancing between West and East, but in the new context of the “Cold War that has begun,” it has become unrealistic. Cooperation with the Communists and support in foreign policy in the USSR led to an increase in the influence of the HRC in society.

The natural sympathies of the population for the Soviet Union as the country’s liberator from fascism were used by the Communists to propagate the Soviet model of development. The USSR, seeking to keep Czechoslovakia in its sphere of influence as the western outpost of the “Eastern bloc”, spared no expense to materially and ideologically support the Czechoslovak Communists, often despising its economic interests in favor of political ambitions.

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