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Anticommunist uprising in Pilsen: 60 years ago

One of the numerous historical events that strengthen my pride in my hometown of Pilsen was the 1953 Uprising which was the first credible post-war anticommunist uprising in the Soviet bloc and the only violent anticommunist rebellion in the history of the communist Czechoslovakia (1948-1989).



Pilsen's communist headquarters in the 1950s. We're voting for the candidates of the National Front and against the remilitarization of West Germany, blah blah blah.

It followed the currency reform at the end of May 1953, exactly sixty years ago. Note that in March 1953, i.e. two months earlier, both Stalin and his Czechoslovak counterpart Gottwald died. This year exemplifies the incredible distortion of the economy; some of the numbers sound crazy.




First of all, the GDP growth in the preceding year was a stunning 30 percent. You could say that it had to be a tremendous success for the communist leaders. Except that you can't directly translate this figure into some living standards. The growth was due to a massive subsidization of the heavy industry preparing for another world war; the light industries that had been equally characteristic for Czechoslovakia wasn't really flourishing.

People apparently had lots of money but because the prices were dictated from the top, they couldn't really buy what they wanted. Shortages of consumer goods were omnipresent, inflation was at 28%. The nation was still using food rationing stamps.




The communist leaders decided for a tough currency reform. The salaries were reduced by a factor of five; and the savings were reduced by a factor of fifty – de facto liquidated. With similarly brutal changes, it was possible to stop food rationing and increase work quotas.

The apparatchiks' idea was that the working class – e.g. the workers in the Škoda Works ("Factories of V. I. Lenin"), the largest Czechoslovak heavy-industry firm located in Pilsen – wouldn't care because they're just working-class losers who have nothing to lose, except for their chains, the typical kind of angry jealous scum that the left-wing ideologies are building upon.

However, it turned out that this expectation was wrong in Pilsen. 20,000 workers in Pilsen (which included a disproportionately high number of members of the communist party itself) went on strike and began to revolt against the party, in order to defend their savings just like decent capitalists would. About 2,000 students joined the rebellion. The communist secret police members and their informers were treated exactly in the right way they should have been treated – they were lynched. The rebels overtook the municipal radio and some courthouses; they unsuccessfully tried to storm the local Bastille, the Bory Prison, to liberate the political prisoners. Busts of Gottwald and Stalin were being trashed and replaced by busts of the last democratic president of Czechoslovakia, Edvard Beneš. Banners saying "With USSR forever" were burned, and so on.

About 8,000 cops, 2,500 soldiers, and 80 tanks were called to Pilsen to suppress the uprising. So of course, it was suppressed sometime during the second day of the revolt, June 2nd, after about 40 rebels were killed. But the revolt did have an impact. At least, some price increases were softened (which, ironically, helped to stabilize the communist regime in the medium or long run) and the revolt may have helped to encourage other rebels in East Germany and especially in Hungary where the counterrevolution erupted in 1956.



Microsoft didn't like that Prague's 14th century Charles Bridge is boring, occupied by the walking people such as Mark Zuckerberg only, so they rebuilt it (and the Old Town Square and other places) as a circuit for McLaren F1 and P1. Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox. ;-) Impressions.

It is my belief that the traditional conservative spirit of Pilsen did help. In the 15th century, for example, Pilsen was the most important pro-Catholic city in the Czech lands that was opposing – and successfully resisting – the early protestant Hussite warriors. And of course, the liberation of the city by the U.S. army in 1945 – the only major Czechoslovak city not taken by the Red Army – did help, too.



Bonus: some amazing motion sculptures...

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snail feedback (8) :


reader Shannon said...

Don't mess with the Pilseners ;-)

In my days at University in Brittany we had those spotty spluttering bullies unionized communists, narcissic w...kers. Best was to avoid any eye contacts with them. A good lynching is what they deserved.


reader Lord Nelson said...

Send various Aaronsons and other leftist garbage back to the fifties to see what kind of regime they stand for, please!


reader Luke Lea said...

It is my belief that the traditional conservative spirit of Pilsen did help. In the 15th century, for example, Pilsen was the most important pro-Catholic city in the Czech lands that was opposing – and successfully resisting – the early protestant Hussite warriors.

But weren't the protestants more like the anti-communist rebels in some ways?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussite_Wars

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taborites


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Luke, not sure why you think so. Some more details? ;-)

My picture is exactly the opposite. Taborites in particular were the ultimate commies. If you decided to live in Tabor, you walked through the gates of the city and you had to give all your assets to caskets and share it with all your comrades!



As a Czech, I am also sort of proud about these guys but I do think that the Hussites were commies and terrorists combined, not to mention that they were creative warriors and OK musicians.


reader BMWA1 said...

Creative warriors and OK muscians, they do sound like the Russians!


reader Smoking Frog said...

You should have lived in Eastern Massachusetts. ;-) My family and extended family had had cars since the middle 1930s, and later on I actually met Herbert A. Philbrick and in Connecticut I worked for a while for a Hungarian couple who had come over in 1956. I asked them how they had done so well in only a few years, and they said, "Because it's legal here." :-) There's more, too, but I'll skip it for something else:



I recall watching "The Lone Ranger" on TV as a small child - all the neighbor kids would come over - and not being able to follow the story. Maybe I was sufficiently hearing-impaired even then, or maybe it's something about my brain. I once gave up on Dostoyevski (not permanently) when I found that every Russian seems to have at least three nicknames. :-)


reader Casper said...

"wouldn't care because they're just working-class losers who have nothing to lose, except for their chains, the typical kind of angry jealous
scum that the left-wing ideologies are building upon."

As a working class person and proud of it until the day I suffer terminal organic failure or get rich, whichever comes first, I hope this is intended to mean that this was the opinion of the communist party and not your own.

Actually these days there are not a lot of working class persons actually left any more since they are all unemployed and on the dole if it is available.



Sigh, what a heavenly place it would be to work in the Skoda factory in the 50s. Will those halcyon days ever come again? Although admittedly the production machinery was probably imported from Russia and would be pretty bad, but you take what you can get.

I'm not sure about "the typical kind of angry jealous scum that the left-wing ideologies are building upon" comment either. Do these people exist any more? I though the left-wing ideologies were all built around the poofter greenie university educated middle-class these days.


Admittedly however it may be as you say in some parts of the Euro hegemony.


reader Brian G Valentine said...

Where are these people when we need them to stand up to EU communist thugs who take people's money to buy themselves tropical retreats and to buy solar panels from their friends and relatives to feed starving people