The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 66: Dispatches from Czechoslovak Ambassadors
in Berlin, Warsaw, and Budapest on the Deployment of Forces
along ČSSR Borders, July 29-August 1,1968

Source:? SD, Sb. KV, K. Archiv MZV, Received Dispatches, Nos. 7103, 7187, 7259,
7269/1968; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 2, pp. 35–36.

These four dispatches from Czechoslovak ambassadors in the East European countries surrounding
Czechoslovakia (Vaclav Kolár in the GDR, Antonín Gregorin Poland, and Jozef Púčik in Hungary) report
on the steady military build-up under way in the Eastern bloc. The Soviet army's "Nemen" logistic
exercises in the Transcarpathian, Baltic, and Belorussian Military Districtsthe largest such exercises
ever conducted by the USSRinvolved simulated nuclear strikes and large-scale offensive operations by
armored and motorized infantry units. Begun on July 23, these maneuvers soon extended to the territory
of Poland and East Germany, where Soviet and allied troops congregated along the Czechoslovak border.
Also in late July, the Soviet Union and its allies embarked on a series of large-scale "Sky Shield" air
defense exercises, just miles from Czechoslovak territory. By the time the Čierna nad Tisou negotiations
opened on July 29, some 20 combat-ready Warsaw Pact divisions were already poised on Czechoslovakia's
borders, waiting for orders to move ahead with "Operation Danube."

East Berlin:

At 11:00 A.M. today, 29 July, West Berlin radio confirmed our report (No. 249) concerning the southward movement of GDR motorized infantry units. In addition to GDR units, units of the USSR are heading toward the south in the Thuringian Forest area. A Czechoslovak citizen called on the telephone at 9 o'clock this morning and informed us of the movement of troops toward the Czechoslovak border in the Freiberg area. At 10:00 A.M. an unknown major in the East German army reported the concentration of troops toward our borders.135 He expressed his sympathy with the ČSSR and immediately left.

Kolár250

Warsaw:

It has been confirmed from other sources, including Poles who were present, that party meetings were held where the letter from the PUWP Central Committee was read aloud. The letter contains a highly critical description of events in the ČSSR, along with the Polish position on these events, and it criticizes Prchlílc's statement and intimates that Brandt secretly visited the ČSSR.136 The letter concludes that events in the ČSSR directly threaten the Polish People's Republic and that the Poles will defend their western borders with all possible means. The letter states that Soviet units are crossing Poland, but because our source was reporting to us on Monday, it is possible that at the time of the meetings units had already crossed the Czechoslovak border.137 The source stated his opinion that in the event of disturbances in Warsaw, Soviet units deployed in the vicinity of Warsaw were to intervene.

Gregor 211

135 In keeping with the standard Warsaw Pact lexicon, the cable referred to the East German army as simply the
"German" army. The qualifier "East" has been added here for clarity's sake.

136 Reports were rife at the time that the Czechoslovak government was holding secret negotiations with Willy Brandt
and other top West German officials. In addition to the allegations of a trip by Brandt to Czechoslovakia, other sources
contended that Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiff Hájek met Brandt secretly in Vienna.

137 The "Monday" in question was the 29th of July, and the meetings were held on the following day.

-298-

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