The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 124: Situation Report by the U.S. State Department,
August 29,1968

Source: National Security File, Country File, Czechoslovakia, Czech Crisis 8/68, State
Situation Reports, Box 182, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library.

This situation report was compiled by the Czech Task Force, a round-the-clock crisis monitoring unit
established in the State Department in late July. The information was gleaned through intelligence
channels or from the U.S. embassies in Prague, Moscow, and other Warsaw Pact capitals, as well as from
newswire dispatches, broadcast monitoring services, and other open sources.

SECRET

DEPARTMENT OF STATE CZECH TASK FORCE

Situation Report 1200 Hours EDT, August 29, 1968

1. Czechoslovak Leaders Encounter Mixed Reaction to Moscow Accords: Press reports from Czechoslovakia today indicate that the Prague leadership is moving ahead with a slow modification of its liberal reforms. Opposition to the Moscow accords is still voiced from some quarters, but resistance appears to be subsiding in Prague as increasing numbers of people accept implementation of the accords as inevitable. According to the West German news agency DPA, Literární listy, the organ of the Czechoslovak writers and an outspokenly liberal journal, carried an article today calling on the Czechs to reject any compromise, insisting on "all the freedoms we have achieved" and the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops whom it was "our duty to hate."

A more moderate line was taken by the head of the Czech trade union council Karel Poláček in a speech broadcast this morning. Poláček urged all union members to support Svoboda, Dubček, and other leaders and to achieve "normalization" in order to permit the earliest possible departure of foreign troops. Tanyug reports members of the old and new Czechoslovak Central Committees—the pre-invasion CC and that "elected" by the extraordinary party congress on August 22—will meet on August 29 or 30, apparently to resolve the question of the validity of the decisions made by the extraordinary congress.

2. Dubček Appears in Bandages: Embassy Prague, citing an American medical scientist residing in Prague, reports that Dubček appeared at a meeting on August 28 heavily bandaged around the head and upper body, "presumably from mistreatment by Soviets." Reuters reported that Dubček had an "ominous-looking adhesive plaster" on his forehead on August 28, which he attributed to a bathtub fall."

3. Romania Backing Czech Emphasis on Troop Withdrawals, Avoiding Polemics: The Statement of the Romanian Communist Party Executive Committee today underscored the party's "particular attention" to the August 23–26 Soviet-Czechoslovak talks in Moscow, reiterated its "unanimous anxiety and disapproval" of the "penetration" into Czechoslovakia, recalled Romania's insistence from the outset that the only way to "a reasonable solution" lay through negotiations, "appreciated" the return of the Czechoslovak leaders to Prague, and considered it of "utmost importance to carry into effect the complete withdrawal in the shortest

57 Dubček's injury was. in fact, due to a fall, not to Soviet abuse, as Smrkovský revealed several years later in a
posthumously published interview: "… As for all those rumors that spread about the scar Dubček had on his forehead,
well, it happened in the bathroom. He fainted and fell over, and as he was falling he hit his forehead on the edge of the
washbasin. And so he had a bandage, and our own doctors from the military hospital, whom Svoboda brought with him,
took care of Dubček." See "Nedokončený rozhovor: Mluví Josef Smrkovský," Listy: Časopis československé socialis-
tické opozice (Rome), Vol. 4, No. 2 (March 1975), p. 22.

-490-

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