Leonid Brezhnev: Brezhnev and Antonín Novotný signed a contract 00:16

Czechoslovakia: Brezhnev and Antonín Novotný signed a contract Antonín Novotný (10 December 1904–28 January 1975) was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from 1953 to 1968, and also held the post of President of Czechoslovakia from 1957 to 1968. He was born in Letňany, now part of Prague. Antonín Novotný became a member of the Communist party in 1921. He later worked as a delegate to the 7th congress of Comintern (1935). Due to his involvement in the party's underground struggle, he was arrested in 1941 and imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp where he served as Kapo.[1] He was liberated by American troops on 5 May 1945. After the war, Novotný became an important member of the communist party and was appointed as First Secretary in 1951, but a short time later resigned. However, when Rudolf Slánský was ousted from the post in 1953, Novotný succeeded him and thus became the de facto leader of Czechoslovakia when Klement Gottwald died later that year. He was reelected in 1958 and 1964. In 1957, he assumed the post of president, succeeding to Gottwald. While President Antonín Zápotocký and Prime Minister Viliam Široký wanted a less repressive way of governing, Novotný was able to outflank them because he had the backing of the Soviet Union. In late 1953, at a meeting in Moscow, Zápotocký and Široký were told to adhere to the principles of "collective leadership"--in other words, abandon power to Novotný. In the Czechoslovakia of Novotný, people continued to face strict government regulations in the arts and media, although they had loosened dramatically since Stalin's death in 1953 and the subsequent De-Stalinisation programmes of 1956. His quasi-authoritarian practices led to mounting calls for a new form of socialism over the unsatisfactory pace of change that would include the accountability, proper elections, and responsibility of leaders to society. Novotný's administration, however, still remained centralised for 10 years. But growing public unpopularity caused Novotný to lose his grip on power. He was forced to resign as party leader in January 1968 and was replaced by a reformer, Alexander Dubček. In March 1968, he lost the post of President and in May he resigned from the Central Committee of KSC. In 1971 during the period of normalization he was elected member of the central committee for the second time, but his political influence was minimal and he was too ill to be a strong force in the more moderate Gustáv Husák administration. He died on 28 January 1975 in Prague.

Recorded: 1967 Event time: 1967 Location: Czechoslovakia Number of clips: 14