Husák, Gustáv (Czech Republic)
Gustáv Husák led the Czechoslovak Communist Party between 1969 and 1987 and was national President from 1975 until 1989. Though associated with the reforms of Alexander Dubček’s Prague Spring, Husák quickly declared himself an opponent of liberalization and gained the favour of Moscow. He replaced Dubček as leader and oversaw 20 years of ‘normalization’— the reversal of the 1968 reforms and the re-imposition of Soviet orthodoxy. By the late-1980s he was out of tune with the reformist climate and his fall coincided with the collapse of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
Husák was born on 10 Jan. 1913 in Dúbravka, close to Bratislava in what is now Slovakia. In 1937 he graduated from Comenius University in Bratislava, having become active within the Slovakian Communist Party 4 years earlier. During World War II he was prominent in the Slovakian resistance, but was imprisoned from 1940–43. On his release he joined the party’s Central Committee and was instrumental...