Klement Gottwald, the illegitimate son of a peasant, was born Decice on 23rd November, 1896. He fought with the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War but in 1918 deserted to join the Red Army.
After the war he helped establish the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia. In 1927 Gottwald became Secretary-General of the party. An opponent of the Munich Agreement, Gottwald fled to the Soviet Union in 1938 and remained there throughout the Second World War.
Gottwald returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 and became vice-premier in the provisional government. Appointed prime minister in 1946, he led the communist coup when it looked like the party would be defeated in the 1948 elections.