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Christiane Brennerová The Road to February 1948

The article is concerned with the theoretical and methodological background of research into the history of Czechoslovakia 1945–1948. The author confronts the general common interpretative frame of this research, i.e. the picture of the struggle between democracy and the rise of totalitarianism, and shows systematically why such an interpretative model is imprecise and leads to distorted conclusions. She goes on to suggests that future scholarship should avoid the methodological fault of excessive personification of the theme. In contrast, she directs attention to the profound political, economic, social and value changes that took place in post-war Czechoslovakia, seeing them not just as a pure result of the war or "Munich" trauma but as part of a broad and complex process of transformation. This process had symptoms that were already visible during the 1st Czechoslovak Republic, developed fully in the short period of the 2nd Republic, were still evident in the war years and continued after 1945 and 1948. What we are dealing with, then, are trends that continued despite the succession of entirely externally dissimilar political regimes. From this point of view the democracy-totalitarianism dichotomy loses significance for the period 1945–1948 and it becomes correspondingly more important to understand changes in the understanding of democracy and political power, demands for the introduction of a new order, concepts of socialism, the character of politics and questions of continuity with the pre-war republic.