Antonín Zápotocký

(b. 1884)

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(b. Zakolany, 19 Dec. 1884; d. Prague, 13 Nov. 1957)

Czech; Czechoslovak premier 1948–53, President of Czechoslovakia 1953–7 Zápotocký was born in the mining region of Kladno to the west of Prague. He was the son of a founder of the Czech socialist movement, left school at 14, and started work as a stonemason. He joined the socialist youth movement in 1900 and from 1907 to 1911 was Social Democratic Party secretary in Kladno. He played a prominent role in the Czech trade union movement, organizing the unsuccessful general strike of 1920. In 1921 he was one of the founders of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (CPCz) and from 1922 to 1925 was secretary-general of the party. From 1929 to 1938 he was head of the Communist trade unions. Following imprisonment in a concentration camp during the Second World War he entered the CPCz's Presidium and became leader of the Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (ROH). Zápotocký and ROH played a major role in the Communist seizure of power in February 1948. From 1948 to 1953 he was Czechoslovak premier. He bore less responsibility for the purges in Czechoslovakia than Slánský and Gottwald and in March 1953 became President of Czechoslovakia after Gottwald's death. He did nothing to encourage reform in the post-*Stalin era.

Subjects: Politics.

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