Czechoslovakia had existed as a sovereign state in Central Europe since October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From 1939 to 1945, it was forcefully divided and partially incorporated into Nazi Germany. After the war, pre-war Czechoslovakia was re-established, with the exception of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was annexed by the Soviet Union. In February 1948 the Communists seized power.
A growing dissident movement coupled with upheaval in the Soviet Union eventually culminated in this day in history, when twenty-four leaders of the Politburo and Secretariat in Czechoslovakia resigned after admitting to underestimating the force of the pro-democracy movement.
Two days later, the legislature formally deleted the sections of the Constitution giving the Communists a monopoly of power. On December 10, President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Slovak reformer Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989.
In June 1990, Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946.
Over the next two years the Slovak separatist movement successfully campaigned for autonomy from the Czech lands. The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia, which took effect on 1 January 1993, officially recognized two separate states in its stead: The Czech Republic and Slovakia.