A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 52: Czechoslovak Central Committee
Study of Security Policy, June 24, 1968

At the same time that elements of the Czechoslovak army were pressing a nationally oriented reform agenda with respect to the Warsaw Pact, upper layers of the Com- munist Party put forward an even more controversial critique of the alliance. Prepared by the Eighth "Defense and Security Policy" Department of the Central Committee, this study of Czechoslovak security policy was sent by the head of the CC State Admin- istration Department, Gen. Václav Prchlík, to Dubček for discussion by the Presidium. However, before that debate could take place, Defense Minister Martin Dzúr object- ed that the study was "politically incorrect"21and should not be submitted to the lead- ership. The study makes a number of points that are worth noting. It argues that 20 years of building up the army at great cost, even during periods of détente, had showed that the Warsaw Pact's commitment to peaceful coexistence was only verbal. It also points out that the practice of invoking the threat of German militarism was nothing but a rationalization for tightening controls within the alliance and requiring higher defense expenditures. Going further, the study declares that the drive to expand mili- tary ties among socialist countries was needed only because not enough basis existed for greater cooperation in other fields. Among several other points, the document states that any kind of nuclear war in Europe would be senseless and only bring about the physical destruction of Czechoslovakia. Consequently, it asserts that the nation's pri- mary military purpose must be to sustain Czechoslovakia's existence and sovereignty.

Although the study never reached the Presidium, the Soviet Embassy in Prague obtained a copy and later forwarded it to Moscow with a note that it had been pre- pared by the "infamous Gen. Prchlík."22

"…"

The Czechoslovak Army has been built up for almost twenty years through the exertion of a maximum of both human and material effort, often at the highest pace and to the detriment of other vital social needs. This proceeded even when the relax ation of international tensions was being proclaimed and the political line of peace-

21 Dzúr to Dubček, August 2, 1968, in Vojenské otázky československé reformy, 1967–1970: Vojenská varianta řešení čs. krize (1967–1968) "Military Issues in the Czechoslovak Reform, 1967–1970: The Military Option in the Solution of the Czechoslovak Crisis", ed. Antonín Benčík, Jaromír Navrátil, and Jan Paulík (Brno: Doplněk, 1996), p. 249.

22 Comment by Ambassador Stepan Chervonenko, November 11, 1968, ZIS-195, Institute for Contemporary History, Prague. Over the course of a lengthy army career, Gen. Prchlík served as chief of the Main Political Directorate from 1958 to February 1968, when the Prague Spring was already underway. He was also a long-time member of the Central Committee, heading the CC State Administration Department from February to July 1968. His notoriety, from the Soviet standpoint, reached its pinnacle as a result of a meeting with journalists in Prague on July 15, 1968, during which he expounded even more critically on the same themes laid out in this internal CC study.

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