AP/ CTK, Karel Mevald, file
August 24, 2004
Ota Sik, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps who became the architect of economic liberalization during Czechoslovakia's ill-fated 1968 "Prague Spring," died in St. Gallen, Switzerland, on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004, at age 84. Czechoslovakia's communist government adopted Sik's economic ideas in 1965 to kick-start stagnant industrial growth. His "new economic model" called for limited reforms of the Soviet system, including less central planning and a freer market economy. Sik was appointed vice premier and economics minister in April 1968 as part of Premier Alexander Dubcek's reform campaign to create "socialism with a human face." Warsaw Pact troops invaded on Aug. 20, 1968, to crush the effort, but Sik was on vacation in Yugoslavia and escaped the crackdown. That October he moved to Switzerland, where his family joined him.