The History of Trade Unions in the Czech Lands in 1918-1948

This project doesn't include Faculty of Arts. It includes Faculty of Education. Official project website can be found on

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Project Identification
Project Period
1/2006 - 12/2008
Investor / Pogramme / Project type
Czech Science Foundation
MU Faculty or unit
Faculty of Education
Trade unions, trade union structure, social policy, strikes, unemployment

The selected 1918-1948 thirty-year historical period represents the most significant time in the history of Czech trade unions; it allows us to contrast the position of trade unions in three distinctive social and political periods of time in the Czech national history: 1919-1938 - Democratic ´First Republic´ period, 1939-1945 - Nazi totalitarian ´The Protectorate of Czech and Moravian Lands´, 1945-1948 short-term limited democracy during the post-war period. Although the history of trade unions covering the mentioned periods has already been described, the publications, issued mostly before 1989, have been neglected due to their one-sided ideological bias. Those publications evaluated trade union activities from strictly Marxist views, closely connecting trade unions with the communist party, and justifying the ´rightfullness´ of the leading role of the Czech communist party in Czech society in order to show trade unions as a ´gear lever between the working class and communist party´. After 1989 the interest in trade union studies decreased. Therefore, it seems necessary to describe the trade union history from a new better-structured point of view, not biased by ideological prejudice, in a new synthesized publication which would bring about a new and deeper insight and more precise evaluation. The project research will result in a synthesized monograph.


Trade Unions in the Czech Lands 1918-1948. This monograph traces the growth of the trade union movement in the Czech lands from 1918-1948, a period in which it experienced a diversification in its development. Historical research up to the present has been entirely unsatisfactory and clearly edeologically tained. The opening three chapters describe the 20-year period of the First and Second Czechoslovak Republics, which was characterised by a significant fragmentation and disunity of the trade unions. At that time, trade union congresses were not only dividede according to the views and political convictions of the members, but also by nationality. Almost every political party established its own trade union congress. Trade unions also played a significant role in the social politics of the time. This study looks closely at the activities of the individual congresses and their specific aims. The Protectorate years (1939-1945) united the unions administratively into two congresses. However, they were used by the occupying powers as a means of controlling the workforce to further repressive German interests. The final chapter looks at the postwar development of trade unions in the Czech lands, covering the short time period of 1945-1948. The unions, presented as the unified Revolutionary Trade Union Movement, acquired much greater decision-making power in the sphere of economics and became the "gear lever" between the Communist Party and the workers. With the aid of the unions, the Communists could exert "revolutionary pressure" from below, which they would then make use of in government, parliament and in the National Front. The Communist takeover in February 1948 had been facilitated by the practical help of the trade unions. The unions were then taken under the wing of the Communist Party and became part of its government monopoly. The monograph contains 18 appendices (documents) and several pictures.


Total number of publications: 17

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