February revolution

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The resignation of the non-communist ministers

The takeover of power by the Communist Party KSČ in Czechoslovakia in February 1948 is known as the February coup (sometimes referred to as the February coup ) . In KSČ it was officially called Victorious February ( Vítězný únor ). The coup , although it was constitutional, meant the de facto end of democracy and sealed the country's membership of the Soviet sphere of influence until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.


Even before the parliamentary elections in May 1946 , Communist ministers occupied key positions in the Czechoslovak government. The Communist Party had 38% of the vote, and all non-Communist parties together won 62% of the vote. Since the communists had become the strongest party in these elections, their chairman Klement Gottwald took over the office of prime minister in an all-party government.

The communist prime minister Klement Gottwald

In the course of 1947 there were repeated conflicts in the coalition, which the Communist Party was mostly able to win. It also became clear that the Soviet Union viewed itself as the hegemonic power of Czechoslovakia when the Czechoslovak government had to withdraw its already decided participation in the Marshall Plan .

On the initiative of KSČ MP, General Jura Sosnar-Honzák , three perfume boxes filled with TNT were sent to the non-communist ministers Petr Zenkl , Jan Masaryk and Prokop Drtina in Krčmaň , and they arrived in Prague on September 10, 1947. However , the bomb attacks ordered by the Olomouc KSČ area management, probably directly from their secretary, Gottwald's son-in-law Alexej Čepička , failed.


In order to force new elections, twelve non-communist members of the government resigned on February 20, 1948 in protest against the dismissal of eight non-communist Prague district police chiefs by the communist interior minister Václav Nosek . However, since the Social Democrats under Zdeněk Fierlinger continued to support the Communists, the government retained a narrow majority in parliament. President Edvard Beneš was therefore put under pressure by Gottwald not to schedule new elections and instead to swear in a new, communist-dominated government. To this end, the communist party organized mass demonstrations. There were also threats of a general strike by the communist-dominated trade unions and an invasion of the Red Army .

On February 25, Beneš bowed to the pressure and swore in a new government, the Gottwald II government . Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk suffered fatal injuries on March 10, 1948 under unexplained circumstances in the so-called third Prague window lintel from the Černín Palace .


  • The curtain fell . In: Der Spiegel . No. 9 , 1948, pp. 8 ( Online - Feb. 28, 1948 ).
  • As far as the armies come ... In: Der Spiegel . No. 39 , 1984, pp. 179-188 ( online - Sept. 24, 1984 ).
  • Torsten Hartleb: "Qui est (anti) munichois?" - Prague 1948 and the French Munich complex. In: Francia 3rd Vol. 23, No. 3, 1996, ISSN  0937-7751 , pp. 75-92, online .

Individual evidence

  1. Left curve . In: Der Spiegel . No. 45 , 1947, p. 7 ( online - Nov. 8, 1947 ).