Freedom's Voices: Czech and Slovak Immigration to Canada during the Cold War
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During the Cold War, approximately 36,000 persons claimed Czechoslovakia as their country of citizenship upon entering Canada. A defining characteristic of this postwar migration of predominantly ethnic Czechs and Slovaks was the prevalence of anti-communist and democratic values. This dissertation follows Czech and Slovak refugees through the German invasion of the Czech lands and Slovakia’s independence in 1939, the Second World War, the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, and the Warsaw Pact Invasion of 1968. Diplomats, industrialists, workers, democratic politicians, professionals, and students fled to the West in search of freedom, security, and economic opportunity. Many of these individuals sought to return home after Czechoslovakia was liberated from communism. This dissertation examines the interwar, wartime, and postwar immigration experiences of Czech and Slovak refugees through the lens of Canadian Czechoslovak institutions. In Canada, Czechs and Slovaks who professed a belief in a Czechoslovak identity formed their own organizations. In the Cold War era, the two most prominent Canadian Czechoslovak institutions were the Czechoslovak National Alliance and the Masaryk Hall. Both were later incorporated and renamed as the Czechoslovak National Association of Canada and the Masaryk Memorial Institute. Czechoslovak institutions in Canada faced opposition from nationalist Slovaks who opposed a common Czechoslovak identity. By focusing on political and institutional history, this study contributes to our understanding of Cold War immigration, and its influence on ethnic organizations and Canadian society. Although the admission, settlement, and integration of Cold War refugees was heavily influenced by federal and provincial authorities, Czech and Slovak newcomers joined Czechoslovak organizations and continued in their attempts to affect developments in Communist Czechoslovakia and Canadian foreign policy towards their homeland. During the Cold War, Canadian authorities further legitimized the Czech and Slovak refugees’ anti-communist agenda and increased their influence in Czechoslovak institutions. Similarly, Canadian Czechoslovak organizations supported Canada’s Cold War agenda of securing the state from Communist infiltration. Ultimately, an adherence to anti-communism, the promotion of Canadian citizenship, and the preservation of a Czechoslovak ethnocultural heritage accelerated Czech and Slovak refugees’ socioeconomic and political integration in Cold War Canada. As a result, Canadian Czechoslovak organizations were instrumental in helping to shape a democratic culture in Cold War Canada.