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Historical Introduction

During 1930s, Czechoslovakia was one of the few states in Continental Europe that remained loyal to democracy, but fell victim to the murky 1938 Munich deal and was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1939. When the Red Army arrived in 1945, Czech communists returned to Czechoslovakia and assumed an increasing role in the government. In 1948, Communists pushed the remaining Democrats out and imposed a Communist dictatorship. This was followed by widespread nationalisation, repression of dissidents and show trials. Although the situation began to normalize after Stalin’s death, freedom of speech was never restored. The 1960s brought some liberalisation, culminating with the “Prague spring”, or attempts to establish "humane socialism". The plans for democracy were crushed by invading Warsaw pact troops who killed 53 Czechs and 19 Slovaks. A wave of emigration followed: 70.000 people fled immediately and the number eventually reached 300.000. The oppressive regime stayed in power until 1989 when Communists were toppled by the Velvet Revolution.