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Husák, Gustáv (1913–91)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


President of Czechoslovakia (1975–89). Born in Slovakia, he was trained as a lawyer, joined the Czechoslovak Communist Party (CCP) in 1939 and was an organizer of the Slovak rising of 1944. After the war Husak was Minister of Agriculture (1948–9) before becoming a victim of gottwald's purges: he was imprisoned as a ‘bourgeois nationalist’ for supporting Slovak rights within the Czechoslovak Republic. Released in 1960, he worked at the Academy of Sciences (1963–8) but did not hold high office until he became First Secretary of the Slovak CP and Deputy Premier during the prague spring . He appeared to be a moderate reformer but was in fact a pragmatic politician, who quickly accepted the dominant position of the Soviet Union and replaced Dubcek as First Secretary of the CCP in April 1969. The reforms of 1968 were abandoned, the ministers responsible for them dismissed and there was a massive purge of the party and civil service in which half a million people lost their jobs, but there was no torture, false confessions or executions, as in Gottwald's purges. Control of the media was re-established, as was the leading role of the CCP. Husak realized that, to gain acceptance by the people, he had to improve the standard of living. Social welfare benefits were therefore increased and extended to groups previously excluded, such as collective farmers. The Slovaks were pacified, as large ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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