The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 118: Minutes of the First Post-Invasion Meeting
of the "Warsaw Five" in Moscow, August 24,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/M 21.

This stenographic summary of the first post-invasion meeting of the "Warsaw Five" records the
positions of the Eastern European nations which participated in "Operation Danube." The summary is
based on notes taken by an assistant to Hungarian leader János Kádár.

The document captures the hard-line position taken by the Polish, Bulgarian and East German leaders,
all of whom explicitly called for the "imposition of a military dictatorship in Czechoslovakia "as Zhivkov
suggested. Brezhnev and Kosygin argue that a viable political solution necessitated the return of Dubček
and his high aides to Prague. Their position is forcefully opposed by Gomułka, Ulbricht and Zhivkov, who
denounce any "compromise" with "the counterrevolution." Notwithstanding these consultations, the
Soviets stay with their decision to involve Dubček in a less drastic political solution to the crisis.

The first meeting took place on 24 August between 10 A.M. and 11:50 A.M. Moscow time. The Soviet side was represented by Cdes. Brezhnev, Kosygin, and Podgorny; the Bulgarian side by Zhivkov and Velchev; the Hungarian side by János Kádár, Jenö Fock, and Zoltán Komócsin; the GDR side by Ulbricht, Stoph, and Honecker; and the Polish side by Gomučka, Cyrankiewicz, and Kliszko.

Cde. Brezhnev started by saying there was no need to explain why the meeting of officials from the five fraternal parties had become necessary; he added a short brief on the Czechoslovak situation and on the Soviet-Czechoslovak talks.

Our troops have accomplished their tasks in Czechoslovakia. The action started two hours early. They occupied the whole of Czechoslovakia, essentially without casualties, but political work has still not begun. By contrast, the counterrevolutionary and right-wing forces were exceedingly well prepared, and several illegal radio transmitters were operating on the territory of the state. A day after the occupation they were able to convene an extraordinary party congress, which they organized without the participation of members of the presidium. Everything indicates that the rightists are solidly organized. Secret weapons caches have been discovered.

Our expectations that the right-wing forces would be scared off after the entry of the troops proved unfounded. They have continued their activities. To make matters worse, the healthy forces did not succeed in launching their own activities and, in a certain sense, have acted in a cowardly manner. The rightists have the ideological centers (television, radio, and part of the press) firmly in their grip and will not surrender them….

On the night of the 22nd, President Svoboda asked to come to Moscow at the head of a delegation. After thinking the matter over, the Soviet leadership agreed. Svoboda said a solution must be found that would be acceptable under current circumstances. A situation must be created that would enable the allied troops to leave Czechoslovakia and be seen off with flowers. The Czechoslovak delegation consisted of Svoboda, Bil'ak, Piller, Indra, Husák, Dzúr, and Kučera. Svoboda asked to be received officially, with the full honors normally accorded to a president.

Cde. Brezhnev said that they had held two meetings with the delegation so far. On the first occasion, he had a special meeting with Svoboda. Brezhnev asked that party matters be discussed with the delegation. Svoboda requested that the legal representatives of the Czechoslovak government be allowed to return to Czechoslovakia, and he said he wanted to meet them. To that end, he wanted to return to Prague that very evening.

The Soviet leaders declared they were ready to do whatever was required to normalize the situation. But they needed to have Czechoslovak leaders who would carry out the agreements reached at Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava. Svoboda understood this….

-474-

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