Milouš Jakeš
Miloš Jakeš was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, in Czech and in Slovak: Komunistická strana Československa was a Communist and Marxist-Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992....

 from 1987 until 1989. He resigned from his position in late November 1989, during the so-called "Velvet Revolution
Velvet Revolution
The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that took place from November 17 – December 29, 1989...


Early life

Jakeš grew up in a poor village family in the Šumava
Bohemian Forest
The Bohemian Forest, also known in Czech as Šumava , is a low mountain range in Central Europe. Geographically, the mountains extend from South Bohemia in the Czech Republic to Austria and Bavaria in Germany...

 borderlands before working in Bata Shoes
Bata Shoes
Bata Shoes is a large, family owned shoe company based in Bermuda but currently headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, operating 3 business units worldwide – Bata Metro Markets, Bata Emerging Markets and Bata Branded Business. It has a retail presence in over 50 countries and production...

 factory in Zlín
Zlín , from 1949 to 1989 Gottwaldov , is a city in the Zlín Region, southeastern Moravia, Czech Republic, on the Dřevnice River. The development of the modern city is closely connected to the Bata Shoes company...

 between 1937 and 1950. He joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia soon after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, triggering his steady rise within the party ranks. In 1955 he began his studies at Moscow's Party's Higher College and, after obtaining his degree in 1958, his career continued without interruption, undisturbed even during the 1968 Prague Spring
Prague Spring
The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II...

 period. After the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 invasion, Jakeš became one of the main initiators of the political purge
In history, religion, and political science, a purge is the removal of people who are considered undesirable by those in power from a government, from another organization, or from society as a whole. Purges can be peaceful or violent; many will end with the imprisonment or exile of those purged,...

s carried out in the name of "normalization
Normalization (Czechoslovakia)
In the history of Czechoslovakia, normalization is a name commonly given to the period 1969 to about 1987. It was characterized by initial restoration of the conditions prevailing before the reform period led by Alexander Dubček , first of all, the firm rule of the Communist Party of...


Party leader

Following the ouster of Gustáv Husák
Gustáv Husák
Gustáv Husák was a Slovak politician, president of Czechoslovakia and a long-term Communist leader of Czechoslovakia and of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia...

 at a dramatic party meeting in December 1987, Jakeš was nominated for the position of General Secretary by the various competing factions within the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Following his rise to power, Jakeš began to promote himself as a reformer by verbally advocating the concept of "perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

." Yet, despite the Communist Party's attempt to appease the public's demand for reform, Jakeš remained staunchly opposed to any dialogue with the growing opposition movement in the country. However, he would eventually resign along with other members of the Politburo in November, 1989, when the Communist Party was ousted from government during the "Velvet Revolution."

As General Secretary Jakeš used the firstname Miloš. During the trial it was revealed that his actual name is Milouš. It is not known why he chose to use a different name. Some speculate that the reason was Zdeněk Jirotka
Zdenek Jirotka
Zdeněk Jirotka was a Czech writer of radio-broadcast plays and author of humorous novels, short stories, and feuilletons. He was born in Ostrava , sat for the leaving examination at the secondary industrial school in Hradec Králové in 1933 and then joined the Army where he served until 1940...

's well known humoristic novel Saturnin where the biggest buffoon is called Milouš.

Target of jokes

Jakeš was a target of many jokes and much humiliation due to his clumsy verbal style. He gained unwanted fame through his famous speech addressed to local party workers in Červený Hrádek close to Plzeň. When speaking about the necessity of Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

-inspired "perestroika", he presented himself and the party as a lonely fence-post being allegedly left alone to overcome the hardships. On the same occasion he mistook the word broiler (type of chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

) for boiler and spoke in an embarrassingly familiar way about some official Czech pop music singers when pointing to their allegedly super-high incomes (Nobody of us earns so much!). His speech had been recorded by a journalist from the Czech television who managed to secretly make a copy of the tape. The record was frequently transmitted among the people in the summer of 1989 and afterwards. It was also remix
A remix is an alternative version of a recorded song, made from an original version. This term is also used for any alterations of media other than song ....

ed and released as a dance-song.

The widespread feeling of moral and intellectual decay among Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

's ruling elite was confirmed by this speech. It is not surprising that the slogan Jakeše do koše (hey Jakeš! to the trash!) became one of the rallying cries of the "Velvet Revolution."

Later life

In 2003 Jakeš and two other party notables stood trial for their role in the events of August 1968. Allegedly, it was at that time that Jakeš took part in a failed attempt to establish a pro-Soviet "workers-peasants' government" serving the interests of the occupiers. Facing a possible lengthy prison sentence, Jakeš was nevertheless acquitted of the charge of treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. He lives in Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 as an ordinary pensioner and used to be a frequent guest at the present-day Communists' rallies. He wrote a book Dva roky generálním tajemníkem (Two years as the General Secretary) where he compared the forty-year-long Communist rule of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 to the famous Hussite
The Hussites were a Christian movement following the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus , who became one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation...

in the nation's history.

External links

— Contains parts of rare interview with Milouš Jakeš from 2003.
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