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Klement Gottwald (November 23, 1896 - March 14, 1953) was a Czechoslovakian Communist politician, longtime leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC or CPCz or CPC). prime minister and president of Czechoslovakia.
His first career was as a cabinet maker. Subsequently, he was (1921) one of the founders of the KSC, 1921-1926 newspaper editor and KSC functionary in Slovakia, since 1925 member of the KSC Central Committee, 1926 - 1929 the leader of the Central Political and Propaganda Committee of the KSC Central Committee, 1929 - 1948 member of the parliament, 1929 - 1945 Secretary-General of the KSC, 1935 - 1943 a secretary of the Comintern, 1939 - 1945 one of the leaders of Communist resistance (in Moscow), 1945 - 1953 chairman of the KSC, 1945 - 1946 vicepremier, 1946 - 1948 Prime Minister of the Czechoslovak government, 1948 - 1953 President of Czechoslovakia.
In March 1945, Edvard Beneš, who had been elected President of Czechoslovakia 1935-38 and who had been head of Czechoslovakia's provisional government-in-exile in London since 1941, agreed to form a National Front government with Gottwald. Elected to the first Czech post-war government following the 1946 election, Gottwald became Premier of Czechoslovakia.
On May 9, 1948, after an effective coup d'état, parliament (the National Assembly) passed a new constitution (the Ninth-of-May Constitution). President Beneš refused to sign the new legislation and he resigned on June 7, 1948 (he died three months later). On June 14, the National Assembly elected Klement Gottwald as the new President of Czechoslovakia.
A Stalinist, he nationalized the country's industry and collectivised its farms. There was considerable resistance within the government to Russian influence on Czechoslovak politics and Gottwald instigated a series of purges, first to remove non-communists, later to remove some communists as well. Prominent Communists who became victims of these purges and were defendants in the Prague Trials included Rudolf Slánský, the party's general secretary, Vlado Clementis (the Foreign Minister) and Gustáv Husák (the leader of an administrative body responsible for Slovakia), who was dismissed from office for "bourgeois nationalism". Clementis was executed in December 1952 and hundreds of other government officials were sent to prison. Husák was rehabilitated in 1960s and became Czechoslovak president in 1975.
Gottwald died in 1953, just nine days after attending Stalin's funeral. He was succeeded by Antonín Zápotocký, the Premier of Czechoslovakia from 1948 - 1953.
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