Alexander Dubcek was born in Slovakia, but grew up in the Soviet Union, where his father was then working. In 1939, he joined the Communist Party.
During World War II he fought in the Slovak resistance to the Germans. From 1955 to 1958, he studied political science in Moscow.
Dubcek rose in the Communist Party, becoming party secretary in 1968. He instituted a series of economic and political reforms, in what he called "socialism with a human face." His attempts at reform were crushed by a Soviet invasion.