Rocky Road to Democracy
A struggle with legacy of two totalitarian regimes
Dr Veronika Valdová
This brief book provides an overview of historical and constitutional development in Czechoslovakia written by a veterinarian who for a long time was making a living as a pharmacovigilance scientist. Methods used for data handling in a different field of science were applied to democratic development and study of totalitarian regimes.
The first chapter is dedicated to constitutional development in Czechoslovakia and origin of constitutional crises which occurred in 1938 after the Munich crisis, 1939 after establishment of Protectorate, and during the period between 1945 and 1948. As Czechoslovak constitution is defined as a poly-legal document, some international treaties and constitutional acts are in fact part of the constitution. The meaning of Oath as an equivalent to the Pledge of Allegiance is discussed in relation to the loyalty split within the military and public service which occurred after abdication of President Benes and especially after establishment of the Protectorate of Nazi Germany. Behavior of key leaders during critical incidents in Czechoslovak history is discussed with respect to its effect on anti-Nazi resistance, both domestic and foreign. Assumption of the Nazi leaders that Czech politicians will choose not to fight if subjected to pressure was a correct one, and paid off in easy territory gain.
The decision to halt at Elbe is usually explained as purely military one, but the fact that by that time, the Czechs already made their choice and signed treaties on post-war cooperation with the Russians (Treaties with the USSR from December 12, 1943, and May 8, 1944), certainly contributed to the fact that Gen. Eisenhower promptly moved the remaining forces to the Pacific Theatre of Operations. With regards to Czechoslovakia falling in the Soviet zone, the conference at Crimea barely confirmed deals which were already in place. President Truman’s notes from the Potsdam conference suggest that atrocities committed during population transfers in Eastern Europe contributed to the decision to use nuclear weapon in Japan to intimidate Stalin. After the war, there were hundreds of thousands of unaccounted British and U.S. POWs stuck in the Soviet zone of which tens of thousands were never repatriated. Some members of Czech armed forces and demobilized civilians made a personal decision to flee the Protectorate and join some of the Czechoslovak units which were forming abroad, or to join foreign armies directly. Czechoslovak government in exile placed itself in charge of the anti-Nazi resistance abroad after voluntarily removing itself from its powerbase. The situation of members of foreign armies including those who served in the RAF after the war was extremely difficult. Heroic welcome expected by many RAF airmen welcome did not materialize. Their experience from real combat was not transferrable to people who spent entire war in relative comfort way out of the war zone. Soldiers and airmen from the western front were considered a threat by the post-war establishment, and were soon pushed out of any positions of influence. After the communist coup, enemies of the regime including RAF airmen were ruthlessly disposed off.
Last chapter compares current regime in the Czech Republic with Dahl’s principles of polyarchal democracy. Some important agreements are cited in the Appendix.
|ISBN:||1 46642 381 1|