NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
27th February, 1948 : The Communists have seized power in Czechoslovakia. While a mob, hastily bused from factories on the outskirts of Prague, demonstrated noisily this afternoon, Klement Gottwald, the Communist Prime Minister, announced that President Beneš had accepted the resignation of the 12 Centre and right-wing Ministers. In the new Government the Communists and their allies, the left-wing Social Democrats, hold almost every important post. No one knows what president Beneš thinks of these developments. He was to have addressed the nation by radio tonight, but did not do so. This was the second postponement of his broadcast, and the fear is that he has fallen under some kind of restraint by the Communists.
Certainly their tactics over the past few days have been most menacing. The use of mass rallies has been one of the features of the crisis. This morning, for example, a mass meeting of Communists and trade unionists from the factories was summoned to demonstrate confidence in the new Government, although the names of its members had not been published. A counter-demonstration was mounted by Prague students, who still retain the liberal tradition of the earlier years of the Republic. They attempted to get through to the President’s palace, the Hradčany Castle, in the old city. They were turned back by the police and members of works militia – trades union police – all fervent Communists, who wear armbands and carry guns.