Gottwald, Klement

Gottwald, Klement klāməntˈ gôtˈvält [key], 1896–1953, Czechoslovak Communist leader, b. Moravia. After World War I he helped found the Czechoslovak Communist party and served on the party's central committee from 1925. From 1928 to 1943 he was on the executive committee of the Comintern, serving as Comintern secretary from 1935. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938), Gottwald went to Moscow, where he edited a newspaper that propagandized for Czechoslovakian liberation. In 1945 he became deputy premier in the coalition government of President Eduard Beneš. He was named premier in 1946 and also became chairman of the Czechoslovak Communist party. After the Communist coup in Feb., 1948, Gottwald succeeded Beneš as president of Czechoslovakia, a post he held until his death. He dominated government and party through a system of purges and trials, making Czechoslovakia into a satellite of the USSR. His large-scale purge of his opponents in the party culminated in the execution (Dec., 1952) of 11 prominent Communists. Gottwald's death inaugurated a cautious, but short-lived liberalization of the Czechoslovak Communist regime.

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