Where Are They Now? Czechoslovakian Leader Alexander Dubcek Part 1

About the Czechoslovakian Leader Alexander Dubcek, history and biography of the Soviet Czech leader.

Headline--1968: ALEXANDER DUBCEK

At the Peak: In January, 1968, he ascended to the position of 1st Secretary of the Central Committee of Czechoslovakia's Communist party. This maneuver made him the kingpin of that troubled country's Government. The months that followed have been recorded in recent history as Prague's "springtime of freedom." Dubcek set the party apparatus in motion to make sweeping reforms. His outlook was viewed by political commentators the world over as humane and democratic. The intelligentsia and the workers hailed him as a liberator who made every effort to do away with the iron-fisted bureaucracy and political repression so characteristic of Communist-controlled nations.

Dubcek had worked his way up through the rank and file of Eastern European Communism. Born in the Slovak village of Uhrovec on November 27, 1921, he was raised in the Soviet Union and attended school there. His father, Stephan Dubcek, was a cabinetmaker who had emigrated to the U.S. before W.W. I, only to return to Europe a few months before his son's birth and become one of the 1st members of the Czechoslovak Communist party. Young Alexander joined the party at 18. His family returned from Russia to their native land just before W.W. II. During that conflict, Dubcek was a partisan guerrilla. When hostilities ceased in 1945, he found work in a yeast factory, despite the general treatment of partisans as heroes. Dubcek, in fact, had been wounded twice in combat.

But when the Soviets took over Czechoslovakia in 1949, Dubcek entered political life as an apparatchik, or "petty bureaucrat." In 1953, he was named chief secretary of the Regional Committee of Slovakia in Banska Bystrica. It was a high-level post which Dubcek filled until 1955. Eugen Loebl, a political exile and economist who knew Dubcek well, has remarked that "Only men who actively supported Stalinism in Czechoslovakia remained in office during those years. In order to advance his career Dubcek approved the purge trials of the 1950s and helped to organize public opinion in favor of them."

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