The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 21: Letter from Leonid Brezhnev to Alexander Dubček
Expressing Concern about Events in Czechoslovakia, April 11,1968

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 07/15, Zahr. kor.; Vondrová & Navráil, vol. 1, pp. 132–135.

This is the second of Leonid Brezhnev's six letters to Alexander Dubček. Brezhnev wrote it just after
the adjournment of a CPSU Central Committee plenum which had considered the situation in Czechoslo-
vakia and about a week after the close of the CPCz CC 's own April plenum. Like his initial letter in March,
this correspondence is generally warm in tone; unlike his earlier one, this letter contains personal
reflections and digressions. Although the letter reveals Brezhnev's concern about the developments in
Czechoslovakia and the opportunities that were being opened up for "world imperialism," his language
does not suggest that, at this date, the Soviet leader holds Dubček personally responsible for those dangers.

Brezhnev's letter was given to Dubček by the Soviet ambassador in Prague, Stepan Chervonenko, on
April 14. That same day, Brezhnev telephoned Dubček to gauge his reaction to the letter and to request
that the two sides hold negotiations. Two days later, Dubček informed the CPCz CC Presidium about the
letter and about Brezhnev's phone call and proposal. It was on the basis of this proposal that Soviet and
Czechoslovak party leaders held bilateral talks in Moscow on May 4th and 5th.

(See also Document No. 28.)

11 April 1968

Dear Alexander Stepanovich!

It's already late at night, but I'm not yet asleep. Obviously I won't be able to fall asleep for a long time yet. My mind is filled with impressions from the CPSU CC plenum that has just ended and from the conversations I had with secretaries of the republic-level CCs and regional party committees. The plenary session went well. In brief, we talked about the current intensification of the class struggle between the two world systems, and about the place and historical role in this struggle of the communist parties, the working class, the socialist camp, and the bulwarks of world communism.

And, as always, in such cases one thinks not only about one's own affairs, but also about one's friends and brothers who are fighting side by side in a single line along our common, wide, and complicated front.

I would like to have a conversation with you and ask your advice, but it's too late now even to call by phone. I want to put my thoughts down on paper, not bothering too much about how I express them.

I want to tell you frankly that in my speech as well as in the speeches of my comrades, we paid special attention, naturally, to the events in Czechoslovakia and expressed friendly concern in that regard. Alexander Stepanovich, you know very well what enormous respect our party and the Soviet people have for the Czechoslovak Communist Party and for your people. This is well known both to our friends and to our enemies.

The fraternal ties between our countries and peoples were consummated in the brutal clashes with the class enemy, and were sealed by the blood we jointly lost.

And we, you and I, Alexander Stepanovich, were not merely disinterested bystanders during those harsh and heroic days when the intense battles with the enemy solidified our countries' friendship, which will remain forever sacred.

In the twenty years of our friendship, there has been, as you well know, no cloud that has overshadowed our friendship, even though both you and we have encountered many difficulties and disappointments.

-98-

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