Czechia and Slovakia; key historical events
Page last modified 12/6/2020
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21/10/2017, Elections in the Czech Republic produced gains for the Populist Right.
26/9/2000, Anti-globalisation protests in Prague. Some 15,000 protestors turned violent during the IMF and World Bank Summits.
26/1/1993. Vaclav Havel became the first president of the new Czech Republic. He was a centre-right candidate, opposed by Communists and the extreme-right Republican Party.
1/1/1993. Czechoslovakia split into the Czech and Slovak Republics, in a ‘velvet divorce’.
25/11/1992, The Czechoslovak National Assembly voted for the country to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, on 1 January 1993.
20/7/1992, Vaclav Havel resigned as President of Czechoslovakia. This was after a proclamation of sovereignty by Slovakia, which was to split the country in two.
18/11/1991, Gustav Husak, former President of Czechoslovakia and Communist Party leader, who crushed the Prague Spring in 1968, died in Prague aged 78.
15/2/1991, The Visegrad Agreement was signed; the leaders of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland agreed to move towards free-market systems.
10/6/1990, In Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel’s Civic Forum Party and its Slovak allies won 170 out of the 300 seats. Tough economic reforms lay ahead.
29/12/1989, (1) The Czechs elect playwright Vaclav Havel as President.
(2) Alexander Dubcek, the reformist leader sacked in 1968 was elected leader of Czechoslovakia’s federal assembly.
10/12/1989, Czechoslovakia convened a ‘Government of National Understanding; Gustav Husak was removed from the office of President.
5/12/1989, Czechoslovakia opened its border with the West.
24/11/1989, Czechoslovak General Secretary Gustav Husak resigned.
20/11/1989, Major anti-government demonstrations in Czechoslovakia.
17/11/1989, In Czechoslovakia, students protesting peacefully in Prague were severely beaten by riot police. This sparked a revolution which toppled the Communist government on 29/12/1989. Protestors grew from 200,000 on 19/11/1989 to an estimated 500,000 on 20/11/1989.
14/11/1989. Czechoslovakia lifted travel restrictions.
27/9/1969, Purge of reformers in Czechoslovak Government.
17/5/1989, The Communist Government of Czechoslovakia freed playwright Vaclav Havel after he served just three months of a nine month sentence.
21/2/1989. Czech writer Vaclav Havel was jailed for anti-government demonstrations.
19/1/1989, Police in Prague used tear gas and water cannon to break up a large demonstration commemorating te 20th anniversary of the death of Jan Palach, a student who burnt himself to death in protest at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The 1989 protests were led by Vaclav Havel, a dissident writer who led the Charter 77 human rights movement.
17/12/1987, Gustav Husak resigned as General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party; succeeded by Milos Jakes.
23/12/1979. In Czechoslovakia, playwright Vaclav Havel was convicted of subversion.
13/3/1977, Czech secret police tortured to death the leader of the Charter 77 Movement, Jan Potocka.
7/1/1977, Civil Rights campaigners in Czechoslovakia published their Charter 77, following the signing by the Czechoslovak Government of the International Convention on Human Rights in 1976. In practice, many civil rights such as freedom of expression had been suppressed following the ‘normalisation’ that followed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Charter’s signatories included Jiri Hajek, who was Czechoslovak Foreign Minister in 1968, and the writer Vaclav Havel. The signatories were greatly harassed by the Communist administration, but the Charter contributed to the downfall of Communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989, when Havel became President.
28/1/1975, Antonin Novotkny, Czechoslovak politician, died aged 70.
26/6/1970, Dubcek was expelled from the Czech Communist Party.
15/12/1969. Dubcek was made Czechoslovak Ambassador to Turkey. He was expelled from the Czech Communist party on 26/6/1970.
17/4/1969, Alexander Dubcek was replaced as First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party.
19/1/1969, A 21-year-old student, Jan Palach, set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square, Prague, in protest at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
16/10/1968, The Czechoslovak Government signed, under duress, an agreement that Warsaw Pact troops would remain in the country indefinitely.
13/9/1968, Press censorship was reimposed in Czechoslovakia.
27/8/1968. Russian patrols watched the streets of Prague after a failed anti – Communist uprising. Tanks had first entered Czechoslovakia on 20/8/1968. The Soviets overthrow President Dubcek, and 175,000 troops, mostly Russian, occupied the major cities of Czechoslovakia. Prague was put under curfew. 20 people were reported dead and at least 200 injured, many of them students, after the anti-Soviet protests.
22/8/1968, Soviet tanks entered Prague.
21/8/1968, President Dubcek was arrested and taken to Moscow. He returned to Czechoslovakia on 27/8/1968, having agreed to Soviet demands.
20/8/1968. (+8,505) Russia sent tanks into Czechoslovakia. Dubcek had said on 18/7/1968 he would not go back on his progressive policies, see 5/4/1968.
29/7/1968, President Dubcek met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in the village of Cierna nad Tisou (on the Czech-USSR border). Brezhnev agreed that Czechoslovakia could follow ‘its own road to Socialism’ and Dubcek promised ‘Socialist solidarity’. The meeting closed on 1/8/1968.
18/7/1968, Dubcek said he would not go back on his progressive policies, see 20/8/1968.
16/7/1968, Other Warsaw Pact leaders, from East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria, declared the Czechoslovak reforms unacceptable.
14/7/1968, Soviet troops failed to leave Czechoslovakia after Warsaw Pact exercises.
9/7/1968, Czechoslovakia rejected a demand by Russia for a meeting of Communist Party leaders.
27/6/1968, The Czechoslovak National Assembly passed laws abolishing censorship and rehabilitating political prisoners.
19/4/1968, Josef Smirnovsky, chairman of the Czechoslovak National Assembly, promised freedom of press, assembly and religion.
8/4/1968, New Czechoslovak government took office, under Oldrich Cernik.
5/4/1968, In Czechoslovakia, Dubcek began a programme of reform which was to lead to a measure of political democracy and restoration of personal freedoms, see 5/1/1968 and 20/8/1968.
23/3/1968, President Dubcek was summoned to an emergency Warsaw Pact meeting to try and stop his liberal policies in Czechoslovakia.
13/3/1968. Dubcek abolished press censorship in Czechoslovakia.
5/1/1968. Alexander Dubcek became the Czech leader, replacing Novotkny. Czech discontent at oppressive government from Prague and economic exploitation by the USSR led to criticism of the Communist leader of Czechoslovakia, Novotny (see 25/2/1948), at a Workers Union Congress in June 1967, and to student demonstrations in October 1967. See 5/4/1968.
21/9/1963, Vilian Siroky, Czechoslovak Prime Minister, was dismissed. Jozef Lenart became Prime Minister. Lenart was a pragmatic reformer who succeeded in boosting the Czechoslovak economy. However he became less in favour of political reform and was dismissed when the 1968 Prague Spring began.
29/11/1954, General Elections in Czechoslovakia. All candidates were Communist-controlled.
28/5/1953, In Soviet Czechoslovakia, a law was passed introducing short term conscription of labour. Citizens were required to work ‘voluntarily’ for 12 days a year, at weekends or during holidays. ‘Volunteers’ who declined could be imprisoned.
3/9/1948, Eduard Benes, Czech President until the Communist take-over, died. See 6/6/1948.
6/6/1948, In Prague, President Benes resigned. He had been attempted to maintain a neutral government in Czechoslovakia but the Communist, Klement Gottwald succeeded in introducing a Russian-oriented political system. Benes died three months later (3/9/1948), a broken man.
10/3/1948, Ian Masaryk, Czech politician, died in Prague under suspicious circumstances after the Communists gained control.
25/2/1948. Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia. In Czech elections in May 1946 the Communists, under Gottwald, secured 114 of the 300 seats and became leader of a coalition government. However by 1948 the Communists were losing popularity in Czechoslovakia, because Gottwald had declined Marshall Aid and because he was appointing his own supporters to senior positions in the police force. A new Czech election was due in May 1948; before this could take place Gottwald organised what was effectively a Communist Revolution, backed by the workers militia and the police; there were no Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia at this time. Gottwald died in March 1953 and was succeeded as Communist dictator by Novotny, who ruled until early 1968. See 5/1/1968.
18/4/1947, Tiso was executed, see 22/5/1945.
26/5/1946. The Communists
gained power in
22/5/1945, Tiso, President of ‘Slovakia’, was arrested whilst in hiding in Austria. He was tried for wartime collaboration in a Czechoslovak court and sentenced to death in April 1947. Some Czechoslovaks pressed for a reprieve but the national government wanted the death sentence and he was executed, see 26/10/1939 and 18/4/1947.
For main European events of World War One see France-Germany
29/8/1939, Jozef Tiso declared martial law in Slovakia. Articles were posted ordering Slovaks to accept German currency and furnish food to the German soldiers "here to protect our young state against the threatening Polish danger.
16/3/1939, Slovakia became a German protectorate.
14/3/1939, Josef Tiso proclaimed the independent people’s republic of Slovakia, see 26/10/1939.
8/10/1938. Ruthenia granted autonomy.
6/10/1938. Slovakia granted autonomy. In Britain 30 Tory MPs protested at Chamberlain’s appeasement, uneasy that one country had been allowed to win by force against another.
14/9/1937, Thomas Masaryk, the first president of
5/10/1936. Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, human rights campaigner, and President, was born.
14/12/1935, Thomas Masaryk, first President of Czechoslovakia, resigned aged 85. He was succeeded by Edward Benes.
5/11/1935, In Czechoslovakia, Milan Hodza, Agrarian Party, formed a government.
16/2/1933, Fearing German aggression, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia formed the Little Entente, with a Permanent Council,
27/10/1929, Elections in Czechoslovakia were won by the Republican Party of Agricultural and Smallholder Peoples.
27/5/1927, Tomas Masaryk was re-elected President of Czechoslovakia.
3/2/1926. Czech became the
official language of
27/11/1921, Alexander Dubcek, Czechoslovak politician, was born in Uhrovek.
23/4/1921, Czechoslovakia and Romania formed an alliance.
22/1/1919, Czechoslovakia occupied Teschen (Tesin).
14/11/1918. Tomas Masaryk was elected first President of Czechoslovakia.
28/10/1918, Czechoslovakia declared its independence.
14/10/1918, The Czechoslovak National Council, meeting in Paris, organised a provisional Government headed by Thomas Masaryk as President.
30/9/1918. Slovak Nationalist parties in Hungary voted to join
with Czechoslovakia. However the Slovaks soon found the Czech
government more centralist than they
expected, or desired, and pressure grew for Slovak separation from
16/9/1916. A provisional
For main European events of World War One see France-Germany
28/5/1884, Eduard Benes, Czech politician and founder of modern Czechoslovakia, was born in Kozlany, Bohemia.
7/3/1850, Thomas Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia in 1918, was born in Hodonin, Moravia.
15/3/1867. Austria and Hungary buried their differences and agreed to joint rule, sharing defence, foreign, and financial matters but with separate parliaments. However the Czechs, annoyed by the minor role they were given in this arrangement, walked out of the Parliament on 22/8/1868.
14/3/1647, The Treaty of Ulm. Elector Maximillian I of Bavaria made an agreement with France to end his alliance with Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor.
6/3/1645, Battle of Jankow, Bohemia.
9/6/1642, Battle of Schweidnitz, Moravia.
30/5/1635, The Peace of Prague was signed, ending the Thirty Years War.
1632, Catholicism was now completely dominant in Bohemia, and the presecution of Protestants had ceased.
8/11/1620, Protestant Bohemian forces were defeated by the Catholics (Hapsburgs and Bavaria) under Maximillian at the Battle of the White Mountain (Thirty Years War). The Protestant Kingdom of Bohemia had revolted against its rulers, the Hapsburgs, and Bohemia had invited Frederick, Elector of the Palatinate of the Rhine, to become its new monarch. Frederick’s advisors counselled against this move, as rebel Protestant Bohemia was likely to lose against the Hapsburgs, but Frederick took up the monarchy of Bohemia nevertheless. Frederick was forced to flee to Bavaria, and stripped of his title as Elector of the Rhineland Palatinate by the Holy Roman Emperor. Spain’s Catholic Army occupied his lands. Frederick died in 1632 during a clandestine visit to the Palatinate, leaving his widow Elizabeth to bring up their 20 children, produced in some 20 years of marriage.
5/8/1619, In the Thirty Years War, Bohemian forces defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Vestonice.
10/6/1619, In the Thirty Years War, Protestant forces were defeated at the Battle of Zablati.
23/5/1618, The defenestration of Prague. Rebel nobles hurled the Holy Roman Emperor’s advisers from the windows of Hradcany Castle (they survived due to landing in a refuse heap), triggering the Thirty Years War (Reformation). Rebel Protestant Bohemian nobles were in protest against their Catholic King, who had been elected as Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. The conflict this started spread to involve other European powers, who were eager to cash in on the weakened state of a severely-split Germany.
19/7/1617, Ferdinand was crowned King of Bohemia.
26/8/1346. John the Blind, King of Bohemia, was killed at Crecy whilst assisting the French. Born on 10/8/1296, son of Count Henry III of Luxembourg (later Emperor Henry III), he married (1310) the heiress of the Kingdom of Bohemia, thereby becoming its King in 1311. He acquired Silesia from Poland. In 1334 he married Beatrix of the House of Bourbon, thereby allying with France. He had been blind from 1340.
10/8/1296, John the Blind, King of Bohemia, was born, see 26/8/1346.
28/9/990. King Wenceslas of Bohemia, the Good King Wenceslas of the Christmas carol, died in Stara Boleslav.