The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 24: Cable to Moscow from Soviet Ambassador
to Warsaw Averki Aristov Regarding Władyslaw Gomułka's Views
on the Situation in Czechoslovakia, April 16,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/S—MID No. 2.

In this cable Soviet ambassador Averki Aristov reports on how internal developments in Poland are
affecting First Secretary Gomułka's assessment of events in Czechoslovakia. In the face of spreading civil
unrest—during student demonstrations protesters held up signs reading "Polska czeka na swego Dub-
czeka "("Poland is awaiting its own Dubček")—and internal challenges to his power, the Polish leader's
position is that "counterrevolutionary plans" were being hatched in Czechoslovakia and that the reform
movement is having "an ever greater negative effect on Poland." Gomułka, according to the cable, favors
"immediate intervention "by the other Warsaw Pact countries to halt and undo the Prague Spring reforms.

During his meeting with Gomułka, Aristov reports, the Polish leader placed a call to the Kremlin on
the "Hot Line "and "was very pleased with what he heard from Cde. Brezhnev "about Czechoslovakia.


TOP SECRET

I visited Cde. Gomułka today and informed him about the CPSU Central Committee plenary session. Cde. Gomułka thanked me for the information. Cde. Gomułka was personally pleased with the assessment of events in Poland given by Cde. Brezhnev in his report to the plenary session.

I acquainted Cde. Gomułka with the full text of the part of the speech that dealt with events in Poland. Cde. Gomułka said he fully agrees with what Cde. Brezhnev stated in the report. It was clear that he is very pleased with this assessment.

During the conversation Cde. Gomułka returned to the events in Czechoslovakia. It was evident that he is very disturbed by what is going on in Czechoslovakia. In his view, the process whereby socialist Czechoslovakia will be transformed into a bourgeois republic has already begun. He pointed to several places in the resolution of the recently concluded CPCz plenum and to separate articles and remarks about the liquidation of democratic centralism, about the leeway for bourgeois expression, about trade unions without communists, about national committees without communists, and so forth. The many reports he used during this conversation were underlined in places and, on the opposite side of the page, there also were his notes and remarks. Cde. Gomułka once again expressed the need for us to intervene immediately, arguing that one cannot be an indifferent observer when counterrevolutionary plans are beginning to be implemented in Czechoslovakia. At that very moment Cde. Gomułka called Cde. Brezhnev on the "Hot Line." From what I could gather, their conversation focused on Czechoslovakia, too. It was obvious that Cde. Gomułka was very pleased with what he heard from Cde. Brezhnev.5

As for the internal situation in Poland, Cde. Gomułka noted that not everything has yet been done to cleanse the party of its Zionist elements. While speaking about this Cde. Gomułka said that there are many people in his country who want to repeat what is happening in Czechoslovakia and one cannot help seeing the events developing there as having an increasingly negative effect on Poland. This influence is also affecting the other people's democracies.

There have now appeared in our newspapers and journals, said Cde. Gomułka, several articles of a harmful nature; and we intend to take necessary measures against the editors of these papers

5 What exactly Brezhnev said that met with Gomułka's approval is unclear, but it seems likely that the Soviet leader
mentioned a key decision which the CPSU Central Committee had adopted at the April 9–10 plenum only a few days
earlier. Newly released materials record that the plenum resolved to "lend assistance to the healthy forces "in
Czechoslovakia" and above all to the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and not to permit the loss of the ČSSR and
its withdrawal from the socialist community."

-103-

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