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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 53: Reports on the "Šumava"
Exercise, July 1968

These three documents relate to the "Šumava" maneuvers, which became the military cover for the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. The first item is a memo by Gen. Tadeusz Tuczapski, one of Poland's more outspoken military officers. Tuczapski does not try to hide the difficulties or problems that emerged during the exercise, which was intended to intimidate the Dubček leadership, although it did not entirely succeed. The maneuvers resulted in near chaos when Polish movements interfered with an ongoing Czechoslovak reconnaissance exercise. Soviet Marshal Ivan Iakubovskii's intervention created a "very unpleasant atmosphere" and delays ensued. Other problems arose, part- ly because the Soviets shrouded their plan of action in secrecy. The exercise showed that the forces on which the Soviets intended to rely did not in fact function very well.

The second document is a report by two Hungarian generals and is also quite can- did. It makes clear that the exercise was organized for political reasons, to impress the Czechoslovak with the combined strength of Warsaw Pact forces. However, the plan backfired, according to the Hungarians, creating a "tense, nervous, and antagonistic atmosphere." Iakubovskii contributed to the difficulties by parading his mistrust of the Czechoslovaks representatives, who in turn tried at length to convince the Soviets of their reliability. The Hungarians' conclusion was that the maneuvers mainly highlighted the "shortcomings, irregularities, and inadequate provisions in the Warsaw Pact." If not cor- rected, they warned, these problems would drain Soviet credibility and weaken the alliance.

Finally, the East German view presented here is by Gen. Fritz Streletz,25in the form of an information report on a conversation with Soviet Gen. M.I. Kazakov on July 5. Kazakov described the exercise to Streletz (who obviously had not attended) in order to be sure the East Germans were aware of their role in case of an invasion. One of Kazakov's comments was that the combat readiness of the Czechoslovak army had so declined that its ability to operate with other Warsaw Pact armies was in doubt.

a) Memorandum by Gen. Tadeusz Tuczapski, July 4, 1968

"…"

I report that on June 18–July 2 a command post exercise (cryptonym "Šumava") was carried on the territory of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

The exercise was led by the Supreme Commander of the Unified Armed Forces— Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Iakubovskii. "…"

25 Gen. Streletz later became deputy defense minister and chief of the general ("main") staff in 1979. After the collapse of the GDR, in the early 1990s, he was sentenced to prison for his role in the shoot-to-kill practice against citizens attempting to escape across the East German border.

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