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Klement Gottwald (23 November 1896, Dědice (Vyškov), South Moravia, Austria-Hungary (now the Czech Republic) - 14 March 1953) was a Czechoslovakianmarker Communist politician, longtime leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ or CPCz or CPC), prime minister and president of Czechoslovakia.


His first career was as a cabinet maker. Subsequently, he was (1921) one of the founders of the KSČ, 1921-1926 newspaper editor and KSČ functionary in Slovakiamarker, since 1925 member of the KSČ Central Committee, 1926 - 1929 the leader of the Central Political and Propaganda Committee of the KSČ Central Committee, 1929 - 1948 member of the parliament, 1929 - 1945 Secretary-General of the KSČ, 1935 - 1943 a secretary of the Comintern, 1939 - 1945 one of the leaders of Communist resistance (in Moscow), 1945 - 1953 chairman of the KSČ, 1945 - 1946 Vice Premier, 1946 - 1948 Prime Minister of the Czechoslovak government, 1948 - 1953 President of Czechoslovakia.

In March 1945, Edvard Beneš, who had been elected President of Czechoslovakia 1935-38 and who had been head of the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile in London since 1941, agreed to form a National Front government with Gottwald. Elected to the first Czech post-war government following the 1946 election, Gottwald became Premier of Czechoslovakia.

In May 1946 Klement Gottwald, leader of the communist party, managed to win the elections with an astonishing success: 38% of the votes. This has been the widest electoral success of the communist party ever recorded in a free election.

On 9 May, 1948, after the February coup d'état, parliament (the National Assembly) passed a new constitution (the Ninth-of-May Constitution). President Beneš refused to sign the new legislation and he resigned on 7 June, 1948 (he died three months later). On June 14, the National Assembly elected Klement Gottwald as the new President of Czechoslovakia.

A Stalinist, he nationalized the country's industry and collectivised its farms. There was considerable resistance within the government to Russianmarker influence on Czechoslovak politics and Gottwald instigated a series of purges, first to remove non-communists, later to remove some communists as well. Prominent Communists who became victims of these purges and were defendants in the Prague Trials included Rudolf Slánský, the party's general secretary, Vlado Clementis (the Foreign Minister) and Gustáv Husák (the leader of an administrative body responsible for Slovakia), who was dismissed from office for "bourgeois nationalism". Clementis was executed in December 1952 and hundreds of other government officials were sent to prison. Husák was rehabilitated in 1960s and became Czechoslovak president in 1975.

In the famous photograph from 21st of February 1948, described also in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, Vladimír Clementis stands next to Klement Gottwald. When Vladimír Clementis was charged in 1950, he was erased from the photograph (along with the photographer Karel Hájek) by the state propaganda.

Gottwald died in 1953, just five days after attending Stalin's funeral in Moscow on 9th of March, due to a burst artery brought about by prolonged heart disease, heavily affected by syphilis and strong alcoholism. In 1953, a mausoleum was initially erected for Gottwald at the site of Jan Žižka monument in the district of Žižkov, Prague. However in 1962 due to a botched embalming, the body had blackened and was decomposing. It was then removed and cremated.He was succeeded by Antonín Zápotocký, the Premier of Czechoslovakia from 1948 - 1953.

Zlínmarker, a city in Moravia, now Czech Republic, was renamed Gottwaldov after him during 1949–1990.

Zmiivmarker, a city in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, was named Gotvald after him during 1976–1990.

Námestie Slobody (Freedom square) in Bratislavamarker, Slovakia was formerly named Gottwaldovo námestie after him.

In 2005 he was voted the Worst Czech in a ČTmarker poll (a programme under the BBC licence 100 Greatest Britons). He received 26% of votes.

See also


  1. Jean-Baptiste Duroselle: Histoire Diplomatique de 1919 à nos jours, pt.3, ch.2, par.5, pag 256. Dalloz 1993, Paris.
  2. [1] Photograph of Gottwald and Clementis from 21st of February 1948, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Czech News Agency, .
  3. [2] Retouched photograph of Gottwald and Clementis from 21st of February 1948, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Czech News Agency, .
  4. 10 Worst Czechs, in Czech

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