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Additional resources for Access to History. Europe and the Cold War 1945-1991

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Key term Of all the Eastern European states Czechoslovakia was the most friendly to the USSR. The Czechs felt betrayed by Britain and France over the Munich Agreement of 1938, and looked to the USSR as the power that would restore their country’s pre-1938 borders. In 1943 the Czech government-in-exile in London under Eduard Beneˇs, the former Czech president, negotiated an alliance with the USSR, although this still did not stop Stalin from annexing Ruthenia in the autumn of 1944 (see the map on page 6).

In turn, Beneˇs followed a conciliatory policy and was ready to co-operate with the Czech Communist Party, which enabled Stalin to achieve a harmony that had been impossible to reach in Poland. In January 1945 the leaders of the Czech government in London and the Communist political leaders met in Moscow. In retrospect Rudolf Slansky, the Communist Party Secretary, wrote that ‘here for the first time there was joined the battle of two political worlds’, namely the West and the Soviet-dominated East.

It was this atmosphere that made a voluntary amalgamation in the Soviet zone of the revived German Social Democratic (SPD) and Communist (KPD) parties impossible to achieve without the use of force. After the poor showing of the Communist Party in the Hungarian elections of November 1945, Stalin realised that only a union between the SPD and KPD could create a strong, friendly party in Germany. In these elections, which were held in November, the non-Communist smallholders or peasants’ party gained well over 50 per cent of the vote, while the Socialists and Communists each gained only 25 per cent.

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