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...