and teachers out of work, their positions being easily filled by obsequious and obeisant comrades who were to guide the process of education in accordance with the Communist imagination. One of the first to get their marching orders was the current rector, important national economist, Prof. Karel Engliš. The Communist Board of Students marked off thousands of students for expulsion. A common curriculum was introduced once again, including the basics of Marx–Leninist ideology, the only officially approved philosophy. This ensured a sufficient supervision over the entire system of education and universities. Thousands of young people were denied access to regular studies. Dogmatism and rigid censure influenced people’s thoughts in a very negative way as well as prevented the free development of education and co–operation with the western world. The cornerstone of social progress was political loyalty, while morality or specialization received a severe cutback in time.
The Higher Education Act of 1950 legally provided for socialist changes in this field, ridding the universities off all their academic liberties. As central planning and management of economy was introduced, a new Academy of Sciences structured in accordance with the Soviet model substituted the old Czech Academy of Science and Arts. ‘Aspiratures’ and science ranks of Doctor and Candidate of Sciences came in force. An extensive network of nomenclature and political ‘cadres’ checked upon the desired development.
In 1953 the original Faculty of Medicine underwent a transformation into three new faculties: the Faculty of General Medicine, the Faculty of Pediatrics, and the Faculty o Hygiene. The first deans of these faculties were respectively: František Blažek, Josef Houštěk, and František Bláha.
In spite of the fact that the official publishing, lecturing, scientific and research activities were grossly restricted, plenty of individuals as well as teams achieved remarkable results. Reluctance to realize the results of their work, disregarding the facts, distorting and intentionally misinterpreting new findings as well as detachment from the international scientific milieu, nevertheless led to a gradual hampering in the process of development not only in the sphere of science but also in the area of education and overall cultural, economic and social life which were soon to lag far behind the western world.
In Vinohrady Hospital and at the Faculty of Hygiene there worked several prominent personalities at this time: the above
mentioned Prof. František Burian, an outstanding surgeon Prof. Emerich Polák (Vice–Dean of the Faculty in 1957–1959), from among the internists we should not omit a great cardiologist and endocrinologist Prof. Vratislav Jonáš, and the founder of Czech diabetology and proponent of its good name abroad Prof. Jiří Syllaba. The State Institute of Health employed Prof. Karel Raška, who left no stone unturned to seal the doom of small–pox all round the world.
The events that took place in 1968, now inscribed to history as ‘the Prague Spring’, when the students also came in for their share, caused the invasion of Warsaw Pact armies into our country, with subsequent expurgations, repressions, and strengthening of the communist dictate. Students’ demonstrations took place in the winter of 1968. Today we are left with the painful symbol of human desire for freedom – a student of the Faculty of Arts at Charles University, Jan Palach, burned himself as a protest against the invasion of Warsaw Pact armies into our country, as well as to object against all demagogy, violence, and totalitarian suppression of freedom all over the world. However, the ‘period of normalization’ managed to hold in disgrace not only Palach, but any attempts to put forward the principles of democracy and freedom in the country. A similar destiny was doomed for Charter 77, a remarkable act of independent citizens. A series of charges and trials, hand in hand with further expurgations and spying, followed. The years on the turn of the 1970s and 1980s were amongst the darkest times of the communist era since August 1968.
In spite of all attempts on the part of the communist government, the ties that bind Czech nation with the best moral and cultural canon from T. G. Masaryk to Jan Patočka were preserved.
Great damage was inflicted on the Charles University, for the best specialists of outstanding moral and expert qualities were either forced to retire with no possibility to go on in their work or driven to exile right away.
Autumn 1989: the unbelievable did happen in the end. Independent organized movements from abroad and the bold courage of the students at home helped to bring about major changes and set our country on the road to democracy in a very short time. Prof. Radim Palouš, PhD was elected Rector of the Charles University at this time (free elections of deans and other members of the academic administration along with competitions for