The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 100: Statement by the CPCz CC Presidium
Condemning the Warsaw Pact Invasion, August 21,1968

Source: ÚSD, Archiv UV KSČ, F. 02/1; published in Práce, second edition, August 21,
1968, p. 1.

Shortly after word arrived in Prague that tens of thousands of foreign troops were entering Czechoslo-
vakia, the CPCz CC Presidium voted 7 to 4 to adopt a statement calling "on all citizens… to remain calm"
and condemning the invasion as a violation of "all principles governing relations between socialist states. "
At Dubček 's direction, Čestmír Císař and Zdeněk Mlynàř prepared a draft of the statement on the spot; it
was put to a vote with a few modest changes.

Contrary to Soviet expectations, the vote demonstrated that the "healthy forces "on the CPCz Presidium
did not have a majority in support of the invasion. Vasil Bil'ak, Drahomír Kolder, Oldřich Švestka, and
Emil Rigo voted against the resolution. But two members of the CPCz Presidium who the pro-Moscow
faction had assumed would back the invasion, Jan Piller and František Barbírek, voted to condemn it.
Both Piller and Barbírek would have supported a no-confidence motion against Dubček if one had been
offered, but they were unwilling to go on record as condoning the military occupation of their country.
The presidium's adoption of the statement marked the first in a series of crucial events that undermined
the plot devised by the "healthy forces."

The text was conveyed to the central radio station for immediate broadcast and to Rudé právo for
publication in the August 21 edition. The radio transmission was briefly interrupted when one of the
pro-Moscow collaborators, the chairman of the Central Board for Communications, Karel Hoffmann,
sought to replace it with the broadcast of a statement favoring the invasion. Publication of the resolution
in Rudé právo also was temporarily disrupted when the editor-in-chief, Švestka, ordered the staff to publish
a pro-invasion announcement instead. However, employees from the radio station and newspaper alerted
Josef Smrkovský and he promptly intervened by phone from the Central Committee building and counter-
manded Hoffmann 's and Švestka's orders, invoking his own authority as chairman of the National Assembly.
The radio employees then promptly resumed transmission of the presidium's statement. At Rudé právo,
where employees had halted publication of the newspaper's first edition for August 21 after Švestka had
given his orders, a special second edition was issued that prominently featured the Presidium's resolution.

The Presidium's declaration inspired other leading party and state organs in Czechoslovakia, including
the Council of Ministers, the National Assembly, the 14th Party Congress, dozens of regional and municipal
party committees, trade union collectives, and numerous organizations affiliated with the ČSSR Academy
of Sciences, to convene over the next two days and issue statements of their own condemning the invasion.
Amidst the surge of non-violent civilian resistance in Czechoslovakia and the successful convocation of
the Nth Party Congress, plans to set up a "Revolutionary Workers' and Peasants' Government" quickly
came unstuck, and the "healthy forces" were unable to follow through with any of their promises.

To All the People of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic

On Tuesday, 20 August 1968, at approximately 11 P.M., the armies of the USSR, Poland, the German Democratic Republic, the Hungarian People's Republic, and the Bulgarian People's Republic crossed the state borders of the ČSSR. This occurred without the knowledge of the president of the Republic, the chairman of the National Assembly, the prime minister, and the CPCz CC first secretary, and without the knowledge of these organs as a whole.

The border crossing occurred while the CPCz CC Presidium was meeting to make preparations for the 14th CPCz Congress. The CPCz CC Presidium calls on all citizens of the republic to

-414-

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