The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 122: Speech by Gustáv Husák at the Extraordinary
14th Congress of the Slovak Communist Party, August 28,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. UV KSS, CC plenary sessions; also published in Pravda
(Bratislava), August 29, 1968, p. 1.

Gustáv Husák gave this speech at the Extraordinary 14th Congress of the Communist Party of Slovakia,
held in Bratislava. His endorsement of the "great and bright period" of the Prague Spring reflected his
reputation as a strong reformer. Over the next several weeks, however, Husák shifted his position.
Following his selection as first secretary of the CPCz, Husák presided over the "normalization" of
Czechoslovakia, implementing the Soviet program of dismantling the reform movement.

Questions are today being asked whether or not we are betraying or will be betraying the road on which we set out in January, or whether we are not in some way going back to the 1950s, to certain cults and reprisals, or whether or not we are preparing to take a step backwards in the development of our party and our people. All that has happened in our country since January is, in a broader sense, a revolt against all the deformations and mistakes and against everything that met with a lack of understanding and even with opposition in the minds of the people. The aim was to renew the ideas of socialism, communism, and Marxism, to decide whether these ideas. should be implemented, to create a freer situation for the life of our people, and to win broad sections of our people over to these ideas. During those eight months we were looking for ways of realizing these ideas. Those eight months were a great and bright period in the development of our party and our peoples….

We want to retain and deepen all the positive aspects that we enjoyed during those months since the January plenum and the other sessions of the CPCz Central Committee. As for our Action Program, we want to deepen it and start to work on it once again in our society….

We have been criticized that now and again we have not been capable of maintaining control of events, and that we permit the party, communism, Marxism, our allies, and other such things to be vilified. We understood events in our own way and had our own explanations. We said: we are preparing the congress, we will form new organs, and we will create the political prerequisites for a struggle against the real anti-socialist forces. Unfortunately, on these matters we reached no understanding. In the phase of discussions at Čierna and Bratislava, and even before and after that, we did not find a common language. The armies of the five socialist states have entered our territory. It must be said that the governing organs of our party and our state did not request this entry, they did not invite these troops to our territory. There has been a tragic misunderstanding, or a tragic lack of understanding….

Through no fault of our own we have been placed in a situation where the territory of the Czechoslovak state has been occupied by the armies of five friendly states….

This congress is now faced with a fundamental decision: either to accept the concept of Cdes. Dubček, President Svoboda, and Černík—and I fully agree with Dubček and the other leading comrades, that the only way out of the present situation is to advance toward the normalization of our lives on the basis of the accord that has been concluded, or to reject this concept, that is the only alternative.

There is no third alternative! If anyone has a better proposal, or if anyone can think of another concept, let them come forward! All party members, even the entire leadership, have been racking their brains. So that is how the question stands: either to back Dubček and the others resolutely, or to express in them a vote of no confidence. There is no third way. Any leading politician who does not have the full support of the decisive core of the party and public is

-487-

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