The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 12: Observations by Czechoslovak Escort-Guides
on the Views of Foreign Delegations Attending the Celebrations
of the 'February Revolution," February 1968

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 07/15; Vondrová & Navráil, vol. 1, pp. 54–62.

This report contains brief observations by the staffers who were assigned as escorts to the high-level
"fraternal" delegations that attended the February 1968 festivities in Prague. It was prepared by the
International Department of the CPCz Central Committee. The guides convey the views held by East
German and Polish leaders, who argued that developments in Czechoslovakia were "endangering
socialism" and "providing grist for the mill of Bonn's global strategists." The document suggests that
even at this early stage, Ulbricht had come to believe that it was "useless to try to do anything "with the
CPCz authorities. Comments by some of the Soviet officials who were present also revealed deep anxiety
about the Czechoslovak reforms.

The report also transmits the highly favorable assessments expressed by Yugoslav leaders, who argued
that the processes under way in Czechoslovakia were in keeping with the ČSSR 's reputation as "the most
advanced socialist state" and its "deeply-rooted democratic traditions." The guide accompanying the
Romanian delegation relates how disappointed Ceausescu was that the new Czechoslovak leaders were
not seeking a more independent foreign policy, and the guide escorting the Hungarian participants was
able to detect, from a brief conversation with Kádár, that the Hungarian leader's position was far more
moderate than the views of his East German and Polish counterparts. The guide escorting Polish leader
Wtadyslaw Gomufka describes a lengthy and agitated conversation that Gomutka had with several of his
Warsaw Pact counterparts, including Brezhnev, Ulbricht, and Kádár, about an unknown topic. Although
Gomulka was "extremely upset" during much of the conversation, according to the report, he appeared
satisfied by the end that he had "managed to convince "his Soviet interlocutors.


The Communist Party of the Soviet Union

During their visit to our country, members of the CPSU delegation—including members of the political entourage as well as officials from the Soviet Embassy—expressed their total confidence in our party's Central Committee and in Cde. Dubček. They did so both during their toasts and in discussions with us. They said they were convinced that things in our country would settle down, that relations between our parties and peoples would in no way be jeopardized, and that the CPCz, which enjoys great authority in the international communist movement, would continue to enjoy this authority provided it advances on an internationalist Marxist road. However, they also pointed to certain developments in our public and political life that provoked their astonishment, fears, and concern. Some of these were directly connected with the situation after the January plenum; others dated further back.

For example, they were astonished by the well-known appearance of Prof. Goldstücker on television and by the manner in which the publication of Literární listy was launched; they wondered why it was possible that the so-called preliminary issue of the magazine was circulated along with Rudé právo. In general, they argued that Rudé právo was too liberal, and that it gave space to a variety of views that were often directly contrary to the views of the party. They made adverse comments about articles by some of our leading comrades that dealt with the results of the January session, claiming that each of them interpreted the results in their own way, and so forth.

The delegation received Cde. Gomulka to its residence, and several of our leading comrades also had discussions with its members. Since none of the staff of the International Department was ever present at these talks, we are unable to report on them.

-58-

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