The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 111: Occupation Order from the Soviet Commander
in Trenčín, August 21,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, A—Gift from I. Šimovček of the Slovak branch of the Commission.

Colonel Nikolai Shmatko, commander of the local Soviet military garrison, formulated this occupation
decree. The order was carefully translated into Slovak, and posted at conspicuous sites all over the western
Slovak town of Trenčín within hours of the invasion.

Shmatko's decree ordered severe restrictions on movement, public gatherings, and freedom of expres-
sion. Failure to adhere to the directive, which included a demand to turn in all typewriters, would be
regarded as "anti-socialist subversion," presumably punishable by death. Similarly harsh decrees were
issued in numerous other areas in Slovakia and in several areas of the Czech Lands, reflecting Soviet
knowledge of the degree of widespread opposition to the occupation.


ORDER

No. 1 FROM THE GARRISON COMMANDER

Trenčín, 21 August 19689
Counterrevolutionary forces in Czechoslovakia, with the active support of special services in the USA and the FRG, have been disrupting order in the state.Exploiting the current situation in the state, NATO armies are threatening to occupy the ČSSR, overthrow the people's regime, and create a regime to their own liking.Out of loyalty to internationalist principles and to the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries—the Bulgarian People's Republic, the Hungarian People's Republic, the German Democratic Republic, and the Polish People's Republic—have dispatched their armies to help the Czechoslovak people and their institutions of people's power suppress the forces of counterrevolution and save their country from the threat looming over them.To ensure strict order and an organized situation in the interest of the working people of the town, I issue the following directives:
1. As of 21 August 1968,I forbid anyone to leave their homes and go onto the streets between 8 P.M. and 5 A.M. Central European Time. Every citizen must unconditionally observe the regulations of conduct, issued by the Soviet military commander of the garrison.
2. Any attempts to disobey or resist the terms of this order will be punished immediately under military law.
3. Soviet military forces are to guard all important military offices, radio and television stations, teleprinter installations, and institutions of the press.
4. All citizens of the town are forbidden to carry Firearms or any weapons that can be used for stabbing. Those who possess such arms must hand them over to the garrison administrator no later than noon.
5. Any movements of troops of the Czechoslovak People's Army from garrison to garrison are to be carried out only at the orders of the Soviet army command.

9 Trenčín and the surrounding area were a stronghold of popular support for the Prague Spring, because of Dubček's
ties to the region. Dubček was born in nearby Uhrovec and lived in Trenčín intermittently beginning in 1938, when his
family returned from a prolonged stay in Soviet Kirghiziya. His political career began in Trenčín in June 1949, when he
went to work for the district party apparatus. In the early 1950s Dubček served as the Trenčín district party secretary,
his first major post. In that capacity he got to know an up-and-coming army officer, Martin Dzúr, who was stationed in
Trenčín as deputy commander for logistics of the local military district. During the reform movement in 1968, Dzúr was
appointed (ČSSR minister of national defense.

-450-

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