The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 87: General Semyon Zolotov's Account of the Final
Military Preparations for the Invasion

Source: "Shli na pomoshch' druz'yam," Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, No. 4 (April 1994),
pp. 17–19.

This excerpt from the memoirs of Lt. Gen. Semyon Mitrofanovich Zolotov, a top-ranking officer in the
Main Political Directorate of the Soviet armed forces, covers the last two weeks of military preparations
for "Operation Danube" and the first hours of the invasion.

Zolotov's account reveals how eager and impatient many of the Soviet commanders were as they readied
their troops for the invasion. Most of the officers, as Zolotov recalls, were "genuinely alarmed" by what
was going in Czechoslovakia, and wanted to resolve the crisis as soon as possible. This sense of urgency
was shared by Soviet Defense Minister Marshal Andrei Grechko, who had long been warning of the dangers
that would arise if events in Czechoslovakia were to continue unchecked. Zolotov claims that when Grechko
conducted his inspection tours of Soviet military units in the second week of August before the Politburo
had made its final decision, the defense minister informed the commanding officers that they should "expect
to send their forces into Czechoslovakia in the very near future."

Zolotov also reports that Grechko expressed concerns about the prospect of NATO intervention on
Czechoslovakia's behalf. When asked during one of his inspection visits what Soviet troops should do if
they encountered violent resistance, Grechko responded that it was highly unlikely they would meet any
resistance from the Czechoslovak army, but that the Soviet Union "could not exclude the possibility of an
incursion, from the west by NATO." Intelligence and diplomatic reports to the Kremlin demonstrated,
however, that Western Europe and the United Stated did not intend to intervene to save the Prague Spring.

It became known at around this time "in early August" that Army-General S. M. Shtemenko had been appointed the new chief of staff of the Joint Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact member states.65 He was highly respected in military circles for his outstanding organizational capabilities and for the vast experience he acquired during the Great Patriotic War and in the postwar period. In addition, the new appointment of Sergei Matveevich, who had headed the Operations Directorate of the General Staff during the Great Patriotic War and had thus been involved in planning all the most important wartime operations, made the possibility of conducting largescale operations within the framework of the Warsaw Pact more likely.

Before long I received orders to return to the army command post. A good deal of work awaited me in acquainting myself with the new units and formations and with the way their combat and political preparations, troop service, and party-political work were organized. In accordance with the orders they had received, the troops remained in their field camps, concentrated in the Transcarpathian region. In addition to the standard formations of the army, there were already divisions from other regions redeployed here. Along with the commander, I ventured out to these formations and spoke to people. Although the officers did not refer directly to a possible thrust into Czechoslovakia, they understood very well why such a large buildup of troops was under way in the Transcarpathian region.66 Many comrades expressed genuine alarm at the way events were developing in the ČSSR, and they were psychologically ready, it seemed, to take decisive action.

On 12 August the USSR Minister of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko, the chief of the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy, Army-General

65 The announcement that Shtemenko would be replacing General Mikhail Kazakov as chief of staff of the Warsaw
Pact came on 5 August.

66 Although this segment, like the rest of Zolotov's memoirs, focuses primarily on the experiences of Soviet troops
based in the Transcarpathian region, many of the events and impressions described here apply equally to other units
involved in the invasion.

-373-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 596

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.