(b. 27 Nov. 1921, d. 7 Nov. 1992).
First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party 1968 Born in Uhrovek (Slovakia), he grew up in the Soviet Union. He joined the Slovak Communist Party upon his return in 1938, and was active in the Slovak resistance throughout World War II. After 1945, he was a minor party official until in 1951 he joined the Central Committee of the Slovak Communist Party. A member of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party from 1958, he became increasingly opposed to Novotny's hardline policies, arguing that the Communist Party needed to reform itself in order to ensure its survival. As de facto leader of the country from January 1968, he embarked upon the period of reform known as the Prague Spring, with the aim of creating ‘socialism with a human face’. He failed to appreciate the extent to which his policies were unacceptable to the hardline Brezhnev. His programme came to an abrupt halt in August 1968 with the invasion by Soviet, East German, and Polish troops. He was briefly sent as an ambassador to Turkey, and finally ended up working in forestry. He retired, but reappeared before jubilant crowds in 1989 after the collapse of Husák's Communist regime. He was elected Parliamentary President on 28 December 1989, and was confirmed in that office by the new freely elected parliament on 27 June 1990.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).