The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 98: Invasion Warning from Czechoslovak
Ambassador to Hungary Jozef Púčik, August 20,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, K—Archiv MZV, Received Dispatches, No. 7723/1968.

The existence of this very brief though important document was first disclosed in 1972 by Ladislav
Bittman, a former high-ranking State Security (StB) officer, in his book The Deception Game: Czecho-
slovak Intelligence in Soviet Political Warfare. The document itself was released from the ČSSR Foreign
Ministry archives in 1990.

The cable reveals that a top-ranking Hungarian civilian or military officialonly a few knew in advance
of the exact scheduletipped off the Czechoslovak Embassy in Budapest about the forthcoming invasion
several hours before Dubček and his aides had any inkling of what was going on.

Ambassador Jozef Púčik's cable regarding this information arrived in Prague on the evening of the 20th.
According to Bittman, the message was relayed to Dubček and Černík in the Central Committee building
by 8:30 P. M. However, because the source was anonymous and no attempt at confirmation had beenfeasible,
Dubček put the cable aside. Not until two hours later, when additional ominous reports of troop movements
began flowing in, did Černík seek to verify the information. By then, however, it was too late to do anything.

(See Documents Nos. 100, 101.)

Today, 20 August, at 5:00 P.M. an anonymous caller telephoned the ČTK correspondent in Budapest and told him in an agitated voice that the occupation of the ČSSR would commence at midnight tonight. He asked that the military attaché at the embassy be informed immediately.

Púčik 159

-410-

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