The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 53: The Warsaw Letter, July 14–15,1968

Source: "Tsentral'nomu Komitetu Kommunisticheskoi Partii Chekhoslovakii," Pravda
(Moscow), July 18, 1968, p. 1; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 297–300.

The "Warsaw Letter" was approved at the meeting of the "Five" in Warsaw on July 14–15 for
transmission to Prague. The final language derived from a draft letter that Soviet leaders brought to the
meeting and was similar, both substantively and stylistically, to the letters that had been sent to the CPCz
CC Presidium in the first week of July.

In their communique, the Five charge that the CPCz has lost control of events in Czechoslovakia and
has "retreated more and more under the pressure of anti-communist forces." They express amazement at
the CPCz leadership's failure to recognize that counterrevolutionary forces have taken advantage of the
resulting vacuum to "seize one position after another from the CPCz "and to begin subverting the whole
socialist order in Czechoslovakia. The letter claims that some members of the CPCz CC Presidium are
"actively assisting hostile forces;" it warns that the situation could be rectified only if the "healthy forces "
on the Presidium were able to repulse the "anti-socialist" and "reactionary" offensive. The CPCz
leadership is urged to move immediately to reimpose censorship, restore "democratic centralism "within
the party, dismiss reform-minded officials, and prohibit all non-communist political clubs and organiza-
tions. The signatories of the letter also pledge "solidarity and comprehensive assistance" to the "healthy
forces" in Czechoslovakia to ensure that the outcome of the struggle will "block the path of reactionary
forces" and promote the "common vital interests of all socialist countries." Toward that end, the
communique asserts both a "right" and a "duty "for the Soviet Union and its allies to intervene in "defense
of socialist gains."

The Warsaw Letter amounted to a clear ultimatum. CPCz leaders tried to have the Five retract the letter
over the next month. On July 17, Dubček called Brezhnev to inform him that the Presidium had drafted a
response and to urge that the exchange of letters be kept out of the public domain. The next day the Warsaw
Letter was published with great fanfare in the Soviet Union and in the other countries that took part in the
Warsaw Meeting. On July 19, CPCz leaders had no choice but to publish the letter from the Five along
with the Presidium's point-by-point response.

(See Documents Nos. 52 and 56.)


TO THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA

Dear Comrades,

On behalf of the Central Committees of the communist and workers' parties of Bulgaria, Hungary, the GDR, Poland, and the Soviet Union, we are sending you this letter, which is motivated by sincere friendship based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, and by concern for our common aim of strengthening the positions of socialism and the security of the commonwealth of socialist states.

The course of events in your country arouses great apprehension. We are firmly convinced that the stance adopted by reactionaries against your party and the foundations of the social system in the ČSSR, a stance backed by imperialism, is threatening to divert your country from the road of socialism and, consequently, is endangering the interests of the whole socialist commonwealth.

We aired this apprehension at the meeting in Dresden and at many bilateral meetings, as well as in the letters that our parties recently addressed to the CPCz CC Presidium.

Recently we suggested that the CPCz CC Presidium hold another joint meeting on 14 July in order to exchange information and views on the situation in our countries, including the events in Czechoslovakia.

Unfortunately, the CPCz CC Presidium did not attend that meeting and thus did not take advantage of the possibility of the joint, collective, and comradely appraisal of the situation that

-234-

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