The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 7: János Kádár's Report to the HSWP Politburo
on His Meetings with Alexander Dubcek, January 20,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: Sb. KV, Z/M 3; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 35–39.

This document records a secret meeting between the leader of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party,
János Kádár, and Alexander Dubcek two weeks after his election as first secretary of the CPCz. Kádár
reports back to the Hungarian Politburo that "Cde. Dubček is a communist on every major issue without
exception, and he maintains high principles." He nevertheless warned Dubcek about the need to take
account of the effect developments in Czechoslovakia could have on other Warsaw Pact countries,
especially the Soviet Union.

Kádár's report also provides details on Dubček's election as first secretary, the apprehension he felt
about being the first Slovak to head the CPCz, and Dubček's clashes with Novotný.

About six to eight days ago, a message arrived from Cde. Dubček. This was followed by a meeting that was actually held in two places….7

The atmosphere was very pleasant, and our discussions were very frank. One of things that Cde. Dubček mentioned is that there was not another person in the world with whom he would have been able to discuss the same subjects in the same manner, for obvious reasons…

… It must be pointed out that Cde. Dubček, whom I know well by the way, made a very good impression on me insofar as he showed no sign of smugness or arrogance. On the contrary, one could say just the opposite: He is even a bit annoyed that they decided to elect him, of all people; he has misgivings, feels the burden of his responsibility, and is deeply concerned.

In my considered judgment, Cde. Dubček is a communist on every major issue without exception, and he maintains high principles. This is noticeable even in subjective matters, for example in his assessment of Cde. Novotný. There is no sign of hatred or anything of the kind.

On the basis of all this, even though our talk was almost exclusively a kind of interference in Czech affairs—after all, we spoke of nothing else—it must be said that our talk was correct and comradely….

The first subject of our conversation, though other political issues were covered as well, centered for some two hours on my recent and current invitations.8 From the discussion I learned that at the time—and this is connected with the attitude to the present meeting—Cde. Novotný had not mentioned a single word to the Presidium or the Secretariat about his invitation to Cde. Brezhnev and me…. This, in part, explains why Cde. Brezhnev's visit was received with such unease even by the leadership. In short, they found out that he was coming only after he had already arrived.

Besides, during our entire talks I had the distinct impression that Cde. Dubček felt he had to come up with an explanation. It appears that he is worried about how he is perceived internationally in the context of certain matters. He spoke about that at great length so that he could display his working methods on a trivial issue, but then he spoke a great deal about the political circumstances preceding the entire affair and explained at which point he first clashed with Cde. Novotný.

I told him that our Politburo took a positive view of their decision, its features and nature, and the communique, and that we believed, given the situation, it was the best that could have been done. I made it quite clear how pleased I was that the communique spoke in favorable terms about Cde. Novotný since this was of great political importance. It was politically significant

7 The first hunting lodge near Nové Zámky did not have adequate accommodations, so the meeting was moved to a
lodge near Topolčanky.

8 The "recent" invitation to which Kádár alludes here is the one Novotný extended to him and then canceled in
December 1967. See Document No. 5 above.

-37-

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