Alexander Dubček – the Face of the Prague Spring

Alexander Dubček – the Face of the Prague Spring

Do you know about one of the most popular Czechoslovak politicians of the twentieth century?

Alexander Dubček – the Face of the Prague Spring
In 1968, Dubček embodied the democratic efforts that were to bring freedom to communist Czechoslovakia.. However, the attempt to establish ‘socialism with a human face,’ as the reforms were called, ended with an armed military intervention by the Soviet Union and other communist countries in August 1968 and Dubček was forced to resign from the public life for almost twenty years. He returned to the politics after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. He became an important Czechoslovak politician once again; however, he soon died in a car accident 29 years ago, on 7 November 1992.

Dubček’s Youth and Political Career

Alexander Dubček was born exactly 100 years ago, on 27 November 1921, in Uhrovec in Slovakia. He spent his childhood and early youth in the Soviet Union where his parents moved to. After WWII, he engaged in various political functions, he graduated from the political university and received the academic title of the Doctor of Social and Political Sciences. Between 1955 and 1958, he studied political science together with Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow.

1968 Prague Spring

He climbed to the top of the power pyramid in January 1968 when he replaced former President Antonín Novotný in the office of the Chancellor of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. In the following months, later called the Prague Spring, Dubček became the symbol of the process of reforms, liberalisation and democratisation of the political system. Censorship was abolished and people could finally say what they really thought without fear. The term ‘socialism with a human face’ appeared. Economically, Czechoslovakia was to be a socialist country, but people were promised freedom in what they thought and how they behaved. The whole liberalisation process was also reflected in culture and film, giving rise to the Czechoslovak wave with film directors such as Miloš Forman or Věra Chytilová. Unfortunately, the reform attempts ended on the night of 20th August when the Warsaw Pact armies led by the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and gradually took control of the entire state for the following twenty years. Alexander Dubček was then removed from all the offices. He was a blue-collar worker and a clerk until he retired, and he lived under the supervision of the secret police.

Return to the Politics

The popular Slovak politician returned to the politics after the fall of communism in autumn 1989 when he spoke at the anti-regime demonstrations in Prague. He was a serious presidential candidate but he later resigned from the election in favour of the main face of the Velvet Revolution, Václav Havel. Dubček then took the chair of the Speaker of the Parliament and he became the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Slovakia in March 1992. His second political career tragically ended with a car accident. In September 1992, his company car crashed on 88.9 km of the D1 highway in Vysočina. Dubček suffered serious injuries, which he succumbed to on 7 November 1992.