Svoboda, Ludvík (lŏdˈvĕk svôˈbôdä) [key], 1895–1979, Czechoslovak general and political leader. Svoboda served in the Czech Legion in World War I and became an officer (1922) in the army of the newly founded Czechoslovak republic. He was forced to flee (1939) to the USSR when the Germans entered Prague. In World War II he organized and led a Czech army unit that fought (1941–45) under the Soviet high command. After the war Svoboda was (1949–50) Czechoslovak minister of defense. Regarded as a national hero, he emerged from retirement in 1968 to serve as president of Czechoslovakia after the resignation of Antonín Novotný. He continued in this largely ceremonial post after the liberal regime was suppressed by the USSR (Aug., 1968); he retired in 1975.
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