|Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia|
5 April 1945 – 2 June 1946
|Preceded by||Jan Šrámek|
|Succeeded by||Klement Gottwald|
11 June 1891|
(now Czech Republic)
|Died||2 May 1976
(now Czech Republic)
|Political party||ČSSD (1924-1948)
Zdeněk Fierlinger (11 July 1891, Olomouc – 2 May 1976, Prague) was a Czech diplomat and politician. He served as the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1944 to 1946, first in the London-based exiled government and later in liberated Czechoslovakia. His name is often associated with the merger of his Social Democratic Party with the Czechoslovak Communist Party after the communist coup in 1948. He was the uncle of Paul Fierlinger, the famous animator for numerous PBS cartoons.
Zdeněk Fierlinger came from an upper-class family. His ancestors came from German ethnics who had married the local people and assimilated as Czech people for centuries. He graduated from business school in 1910 and then worked as a sales representative in Russia. During World War I he joined the Czechoslovak Legion. For his bravery on battlefield Fierlinger was four times awarded by Order of St. George. Among other fights, he participated in the Battle of Zborov.
After the war, Fierlinger returned to Czechoslovakia and joined the diplomatic service. He was successively ambassador to the Netherlands, Romania, the United States, Switzerland and Austria. During this period he was a close friend and collaborator of Edvard Beneš. In 1924 he joined the Czech Social Democratic Party.
In the Soviet Union
Between 1937 and 1945 Fierlinger held the post of envoy (and later ambassador) to the USSR. During his period in Moscow Fierlinger was very close to the leadership of the Czechoslovak Communist Party led by Klement Gottwald. This is evident, for example, when in 1943 when the Communists in conjunction with Fierlinger facilitated the signing of the Soviet-Czech peace treaty in Moscow on 12 December 1943 by Joseph Stalin and Edvard Beneš.
The end of war and arrival of the communists
Just before the end of World War II in April 1945 Fierlinger became the exile chairman of the Czechoslovak government and remained such until the 1946 elections. He became a leading figure in the "left-wing" social democracy movement which sought the closest possible ties with the Czechoslovak Communist Party.
Between 1946 and 1948 Fierlinger was chairman of the Czech Social Democratic Party. After the communist coup in February 1948, Fierlinger acted as the chief proponent of the "unification" of the Social Democrats and the Communists. Through the unification of the party, he became a member of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1948. According to American journalist John Gunther, Fierlinger was subsequently nicknamed "Dr. Quislinger."
Zdeněk Fierlinger subsequently served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1948 to 1953, Minister of the State Office for religious affairs from 1951 to 1953, Chairman of the National Assembly from 15 October 1953 to 23 June 1964 and Minister in charge of the State. He remained a member of the Central Committee until 1966. In 1968, among other things, one of his last public acts was to lead a delegation in protest outside the Soviet Embassy.