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Slovakia 1953-1968

On 5 March 1953, Stalin died, creating instability in all communist system. This lead to the protests also in Czechoslovakia. On 31 May 1953, the Czechoslovakian government announced a currency reform, that meant a substantial rise in prices and a 12% cut in wages. Large protests followed including demonstrations and strikes, the most serious being that by 20,000 workers in the Plzen Skoda plant who attacked portraits of the Soviet leaders and the Soviet flag. Such of protests were not directly dangerous to the Soviet system, it nevertheless resulted with some liberalization both in economy and in public life. Some political prisoners were released and little-bit more freedom in the sphere of culture tolerated. These changes in the Communist system were nevertheless cosmetic at best, as the essence of the Communist dictatorship remained unchanged. The open terror and purges had created a pervasive fear that lasted for decades, even though mass terror ceased. The Communist system in Czechoslovakia relied on a powerful security apparatus, whose role expanded rather than diminished with the end of open terror. To keep the situation under control, even the slightest symptoms of resistance had to be suppressed; in order to exercise control over ever-increasing areas of life, the number of functionaries in the Communist security services grew constantly, with the agent network expanding simultaneously. Historian Karel Kaplan estimates that a total of ‘about two million Czechoslovak citizens, or half a million families,' were affected by political persecution under the Communist regime; most often in the form of political purges, exclusion from public life, exclusion from certain professional activities or studies, surveillance by the secret police, review of pensions or forced removal to another place. At the beginning of the 1990s, the Czechoslovakian courts rehabilitated 257,902 people who had been convicted of offences of a political nature.

But even, when Czechoslovakia tried to launch some economic reforms and developed normally, it became more and more obvious, that it could not compete with the Western European countries. Productivity was still poor and most of the goods produced were not competitive on world markets, with the result that they could only be traded on the closed socialist markets. Czechoslovakia ha earlier in the century ranked among the top ten industrialised nations, found it increasingly difficult to compete in Western markets in the with its low-quality manufactured goods. This made demands for real reforms more and more strong.