The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 121: Testimony by the Chief of the CzPA General
Staff and the Head of the CzPA's Main Political Directorate at a Meeting
of the Presidium of the National Assembly, August 26,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, O—Archiv NS, File for Meetings of National Assembly Presidium.

This document is a transcript of remarks made to the Czechoslovak parliament by two of the
highest-ranking officers in the Czechoslovak People's Armythe chief of the CzPA General Staff, General
Karel Rusov, and the head of the CzPA's Main Political Directorate, General František Bedřichexplain-
ing what the army had done during and after the invasion on August 20. Both stressed that the army had
acted in strict conformity with orders transmitted by the ČSSR president and by all other political leaders
in Czechoslovakia. They acknowledged that their decisions had "created a good deal of tension within
the army," but they emphasized that the invading troops had been prepared, if necessary, to annihilate
the entire CzPA and dismember Czechoslovakia itself

The transcript also records Bedřich's warning that Soviet commanders were trying to exploit the
situation to achieve their long-standing aim of a permanent Soviet troop presence on Czechoslovak
territory. This was the motive, according to Bedřich, for Soviet assertions that the poor morale among
Czechoslovak troops "proved that "the CzPA" is incapable of defending "Czechoslovak" borders."
Although Bedřich said "we are doing everything possible… to demonstrate that the "continued" presence
of foreign troops in our country is unnecessary," he acknowledged it would be difficult to prevent the
Soviet Union from establishing a Central Group of Soviet Forces on Czechoslovak territory.

General Rusov: … First of all I would like to assure you that from the very first moment of the occupation of our republic, the army command has fulfilled to the letter all orders issued by the country's commander-in-chief. President Svoboda. After consultations with Cdes. Černík and Dubček and the president, the army decided not to allow bloodshed in our country. Although these were difficult times, the army obeyed and there was not a single clash with the occupation troops in our republic. The result was that we were able to avoid the awful tragedy that would have occurred had we decided to put up any resistance. Had we done so, the result would have been the annihilation of the entire republic, the routing of the army, the elimination of our sovereignty, and a terrible bloodbath. They had all been prepared for this, especially the troops not directly controlled from the Soviet Union, who sought to disarm our soldiers immediately.53 This step was prevented, and the army is functioning, its commanders are at their posts, and it is deployed with border guards on the state borders in advance positions of several divisions, while the rest of the troops are in their barracks or wherever they were caught by the situation. Although we are restricted in our actions—we are unable to train, patrol our air space, or be in a state of combat readiness—we will nonetheless fulfill our duties.

To give you an idea of what it would have meant if we had resisted—as certain madmen urged—I would like to point out that a huge force of our neighbors and the Soviet Union occupied our republic in just a matter of days.

Today some 27 full combat divisions with several army and front command staffs are deployed on our country's territory. Of these, there are twelve armored divisions, thirteen motorized infantry divisions, and two paratrooper divisions. In addition, there are 550 combat aircraft and 250 transport planes, or a total of 800 aircraft. We estimate that there are more than 6,300 tanks, some 2,000 artillery guns, and a strong air force with all types of equipment, including missiles. Most of the troops on the territory of the republic are from the Soviet Union, but there are also units from the GDR in western Bohemia and at some airfields in the ČSSR. Troops from Bulgaria

53 Rusov is referring here, in particular, to Bulgarian, Hungarian, and East German troops.

-484-

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