Martin Dzúr

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Martin Dzúr
Martin Dzúr.jpg
Dzúr in 1969
Minister of Defense
In office
April 1968 – 11 January 1985
President Ludvík Svoboda
Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal
Preceded by Bohumír Lomský
Succeeded by Milán Václavík
Personal details
Born (1919-07-12)12 July 1919
Plostin, Liptovský Mikuláš District
Died 15 January 1985(1985-01-15) (aged 65)
Nationality Slovak
Political party Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Alma mater General Staff Academy
Military service
Allegiance Czechoslovakia
Years of service 1940s-1980s
Rank Army General
Battles/wars World War II

Martin Dzúr (12 July 1919 – 15 January 1985) was a Slovak military officer and a communist politician, who served as defense minister from 1968 to 1985.

Early life and education[edit]

Dzúr was born in Plostin, Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia, on 12 July 1919.[1] His parents were peasants.[2] From 1937 to 1939 he studied woodworking.[1] In the late 1940s he graduated from a military school, a higher academic course and the General Staff Academy, Kliment Voroshilov, in Moscow.[1]

Career and activities[edit]

Dzúr joined the Slovak army for military draft service in 1941.[1] However, he left the Slovak army and defected to the Soviet Union in January 1943.[1] He joined both Soviet forces and the then-illegal Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1943.[2] Then he began to serve in the 119th brigade of the Red Army.[1] Following World War II he became a captain in the Soviet-assisted Czechoslovak independent brigade in 1946.[3][4]

In 1959, he was made deputy defense minister.[4] He was appointed defense minister under President Ludvík Svoboda in April 1968, replacing Bohumír Lomský in the post.[2][5][6] Four months after Dzúr's appointment the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968.[7]

In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, Dzúr was arrested in his office by two Soviet military officers.[8] Ivan Yershov, Soviet chief of staff during the invasion, stated in 1989 that Dzúr initially refused to take orders from the Soviets, arguing that only Alexander Dubček, leader of the Czechoslovak communist party, could give orders to him.[7] However, Andrei Grechko, the former commander of the Warsaw Pact, told Dzúr on telephone that "if a single Czechoslovak soldier fired so much as one shot, he would personally hang Dzur from the first tree."[7] Dzúr was allowed only to call Dubček to inform the invasion.[8] On 28 September 1968 Dzúr increased the number of Czech military areas accessible to Soviet troops.[9]

Dzúr was elected to the communist party's central committee in 1971.[3] His term as defense minister ended on 11 January 1985 when he retired from office due to ill health.[10] Milán Václavík replaced him in the post.[3]


Dzúr was close to Alexander Dubček.[5] The 1970 CIA report describes Dzúr as a moderate like Dubček.[11]

Honours and awards[edit]

Dzúr was awarded the highest Soviet prize, the Order of Lenin, in 1983.[12]


Only four days after his removal from office Dzúr died of "a long and serious illness" in Prague on 15 January 1985.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Martin Dzur". Munzinger. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Martin Dzur, Czechoslovak Military Chief". Los Angeles Times. 17 January 1985. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Gen. Martin Dzur, 65; Czechs' Defense Chief". The New York Times. Vienna. Reuters. 17 January 1985. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Martin Dzúr". The Evening Independent. Prague. AP. 16 January 1985. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Carole Fink; Philipp Gassert; Detlef Junker (28 October 1998). 1968: The World Transformed. Cambridge University Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-521-64637-6. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Former presidents". Prague Castle. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Lars Erik Nelson (15 December 1989). "Moscow: It was 'A Mistake' Crushing of Czech Revolt Recalled". Philly. Washington. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Matthew J. Ouimet (2003). The Rise and Fall of the Brezhnev Doctrine in Soviet Foreign Policy. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 40. Retrieved 7 September 2013.   – via Questia (subscription required)
  9. ^ Jaromir Navratil (1998). The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader. Budapest: Central European University Press. Retrieved 18 October 2013.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  10. ^ "Czech Defense Chief Retires". The New York Times. Vienna. Reuters. 11 January 1985. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Czechoslovakia: The Problem of Soviet Control" (Intelligence Memorandum). CIA. 16 January 1970. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Jaruzelski gets highest Soviet prize". Reading Eagle. Moscow. AP. 5 July 1983. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 

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