The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubček, was no stranger to politics as a child, being the son of a Communist Party member. He resisted the Nazi occupation, while his liberal policies later led Soviet authorities to invade Czechoslovakia. He eventually died in a car crash.
Czech president Edvard Beneš had come to power twice and resigned in both instances, first after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia and then after the communist coup of 1948. Born to peasants in Bohemia, he had earned a doctorate of law and taught at universities before entering politics.