Czechoslovakia -
Tschechoslowakische Republik
Tschechoslowakische Sozialistische Republik

A former republic in central Europe. Czechoslovakia comprised the medieval kingdom of Bohemia, which came under Austrian Habsburg rule in 1526, and Slovakia, long a part of the Kingdom of Hungary. During the 19th century, as nationalism became a potent force throughout Europe, the desire for independence from Austro-Hungarian rule grew. With the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I and the subsequent breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Czechoslovakia became independent. Tensions between the major ethnic groups were never entirely overcome, and by the mid-1930s there was considerable sentiment for autonomy in Slovakia, while the German minority in the Sudetenland sought union with a resurgent Germany. In 1938, Czechoslovakia lost border territories to Germany, Hungary and Poland, and in 1939 the balance of the country was occupied by Germany. 

During World War II, both Slovakia and the truncated Czech state, renamed Bohemia-Moravia, were under German control. In 1945, the country was liberated by Allied forces and the Czechoslovak republic was re-established, with the easternmost region, Carpatho-Ukraine detached and absorbed into the Soviet Union. In February 1948, the communists seized power and by September had effectively suppressed opposition. There followed a long period of violent repression and purges of liberal party leaders. In January 1968, Alexander Dubeck replaced Antonin Novotny as party leader and launched a program aimed at establishing a democratic communist system. The Soviet Union feared that the success of such reforms would weaken its control over its Eastern European satellites, and relations between the two governments became increasingly cool. In August, Soviet, Polish, East German, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces invaded Czechoslovakia and put an end to the liberalization. Nearly a third of the Czechoslovak Communist Party members were expelled, and some 40,000 Czechs fled the country. The government thereafter maintained a repressive, staunchly pro-Soviet policy. 

In 1989, a democratic government was established, and in 1990, the country was renamed the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. In July of that year, Slovakia declared sovereignty, and an agreement was quickly reached to dissolve the Czech and Slovak union. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.


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