Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview

were jeopardizing the common cause of socialism and that the alliance would not stand by to see anticommunism triumph there.

In response, the entire Presidium of the Communist party of Czechoslovakia met members of the Soviet Politburo in July 1968 at the town of Cerna/Tisou. Dubcek agreed to tone down the parts of the reform program with which the Soviet leaders disagreed the most. However, Dubcek stood firm on Czechoslovakia's right to follow its own road to socialism. The compromise that was reached was confirmed at the meeting of the six Warsaw Pact members in Bratislava. It seemed that the matter was settled without violence.

However, Leonid Brezhnev and his fellow Soviet leaders could not accept the Czechoslovak reform program without endangering their control over the entire Soviet Bloc. Not only that; the hard-line states, especially East Germany, feared the impact of the Czechoslovak reforms on their own monopoly of power. A divided Soviet Politburo voted seven to four on August 14 to invade Czechoslovakia and restore the hard-liners to power. The decision was conveyed to the other Warsaw Pact members--except Czechoslovakia--on August 18. On the evening of August 20, troops of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and East Germany entered the Czechoslovak state. Soviet paratroopers landed at the major airports in Prague and other cities and, led by Czechoslovak secret policemen, they rounded up the leaders of the reform movement The Soviet leader declared at first that the invaders had been invited by Czechoslovak patriots who were worried about the restoration of capitalism in their country. However, when only lower level officials showed any willingness to cooperate with the invaders, the so-called Brezhnev doctrine was introduced. According to the doctrine, the Soviet Union-led bloc was duty-bound to intervene in any socialist country where one-party rule was being endangered. This doctrine was, in effect, the rejection of the sovereignty of the Soviet Union's socialist allies.

After the invasion, the Soviet Union installed a completely subservient dictatorship under the control of the Slovak communist, Gustav Husak (see Husak, Gustav). This rigid, dogmatic system set back reforms by two decades and created a sullen, cynical population. The system of Husak which was called "normalization" (see "Normalization" in Czechoslovakia) was eventually destroyed in the revolution of 1989.


Bibliography

Czerwinski Eduard J., and Piekalkiewicz Jaroslaw, eds. The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia: Its Effects on Eastern Europe ( New York, 1972); Oxley Andrew, Alex Pravda, and Andrew Ritchie , eds. Czechoslovakia: The Party and the People ( London, 1973); Skilling Gordon H , Czechoslovakia's Interrupted Revolution ( Princeton, NJ., 1976); Svitak Ivan, The Czech Experiment, 1968-1969 ( New York, 1971).

Jakes, Milos (1922- ). Jakes was a minor communist functionary, an apparatchik in the communist youth organization, the Czechoslovak equivalent of the Soviet KOMSOMOL. Between 1955 and 1958, he was sent to Moscow to study at the Lenin

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