The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 45: Briefing on the Šumava Exercises
for Alexander Dubček and Oldřich Černík by Commanders
of the Czechoslovak People's Army, July 1,1968, with Follow-up Talks
between Dubček and Marshal Yakubovskii

Source: VHA, F. MNO, OS/GS, Sv. "Šumava."

These meeting "notes" are of a briefing on the Šumava military exercises given by three top
Czechoslovak Defense Ministry officials to Dubček and Černík on July 1. The military officials report on
"certain irregularities" during the maneuvers, informing Dubček that Soviet Marshal Yakubovskii "has
sought to prolong the exercises "which were scheduled to end on June 30.

The stenographic account includes transcriptions of two phone conversations between Dubček and
Marshal Yakubovskii, as Dubček attempts to ascertain why the exercises have been extended and when
they will finish. Yakubovskii provides no satisfactory explanation, and flatly rejects Dubček's request that
the maneuvers be ended on July I. Only reluctantly does Yakubovskii agree to try to finish Šumava by the
2nd or 3rd of Julydates that he subsequently ignores. The transcript reflects the Soviets' dominant
position over Czechoslovakia, where Dubček is forced to plead in much the same way that the leader of
an occupied country would have to negotiate with military commanders of the occupying powers.

NOTES on Meetings between the Minister of National Defense Col. Gen. Dzúr, the Deputy Minister Lt. Gen. A. Mucha, and the Chief of the General Staff of the CzPA Lt. Gen. K. Rusov, with the CPCz CC First Secretary A. Dubček, and ČSSR Prime Minister OČerník about the End of the Šumava Exercises.4On 1 July 1968, between 10:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M., the minister of national defense, the chief of the general staff, and the deputy minister of national defense briefed the CPCz CC first secretary and the prime minister on the Šumava exercises. They informed them:
1. that the exercises had taken place successfully on 20–30 June 1968;
2. that certain irregularities had arisen in connection with the exercises, including:
the plan for directing the exercises was not worked out in detail and was not made available to the armies' adjudicative service;
the exercises were arranged on an hour-by-hour basis, from one day to the next, on the basis of decisions by Marshal Yakubovskii;
officials from the CzPA exercise directorate were not invited to consultations or to the start of the exercises and were not kept sufficiently informed about the intended procedures;
3. that when the Hungarian Minister of Defense Col. Gen. Czinege arrived, there was some irregularity in welcoming him on the part of Marshal Yakubovskii. The Hungarian minister of defense was welcomed only by the chief of staff of the Joint Armed Forces, Army General Kazakov. Marshal Yakubovskii's decision not to receive him and instead to designate Army General Kazakov drew comments in the staff of the Hungarian People's Army;
4. that there were irregularities in the agreement to carry out an analysis of the exercises. It turned out that for unknown reasons Marshal Yakubovskii has sought to prolong the exercises.

The state of the Šumava exercises as of 1 July 1968 was discussed and the main questions at issue were the reasons for (1) postponing the analysis of the exercises from the originally

4 The Czech typescript contains some minor typographical errors, including the spelling of proper names, which have
been corrected in the translation.

-191-

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