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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 54: Transcript of the Meeting of Five
Warsaw Pact States in Warsaw, July 14–15, 1968

The July 14–15 Warsaw meeting involving the leaders of the USSR, Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria was the venue at which the so-called "Warsaw Five" came to a consensus on the likely need for military intervention in Czechoslovakia. This excerpt from the minutes of the session26shows that the Soviets at the time believed they could not rely on the Czechoslovaks (for obvious reasons), the Romanians or the Albanians when the time came to act. Polish leader Gomułka was the most vocal in his criticism of Czechoslovakia at the meeting. He feared that the spillover effect of the reform move- ment would cause serious control problems in his own country, weaken the Soviet bloc, and possibly change the entire correlation of forces in Europe. Among other lengthy speeches by each leader, Bulgaria's Todor Zhivkov noted that the only solution was the use of external force. Brezhnev, who had shown some reluctance toward the idea of an invasion up till now, expressed support for Gomułka's evaluation of the situation.

"…"

Cde. Gomułka: There is obviously a danger that our bloc would be weakened. All political questions are being decided today on a world-wide scale. I would not consider it possible that socialism would give an unambiguous reply to capitalism, or capitalism to socialism, in the form of some kind of neo-capitalism. Problems are not being solved on the scale of a single country, they are being solved on a world-wide scale. Well, this is quite obvious, and the development of power, of our communist movement, depends on that. We are living through an unfortunate period now. Many tendencies exist within our movement, many anarchistic concepts, many eccentric concepts. This is the big weakness of our movement. We have all sorts of things— anarchism, revisionism etc., anything you want, comrades—may be found within our international movement. We, the Warsaw Treaty countries, have up to now represented the decisive force of internationalism and socialism. We are the force that represents socialism in the world. Neither China, nor Cuba, nor even Korea represent the true picture of socialism. The Warsaw Treaty states are the showcase of socialism. Socialism is what we represent. Such is the case with our level of force, too. It exists in direct proportion to our internal unity. The GDR, Hungary or Bulgaria do not represent our power. These countries do not represent the decisive power factor, it is our Soviet brother who represents this force! The Soviet Union and the power of its nuclear weapons keep the imperialist world in check.

Comrades, "our" problems are not of the sort where everything can be decided by means of power. If everything could be decided by power, military power would be

26 For other excerpts of this important session that relate more specifically to the Czechoslovak crisis, see Járomír Navrátil et al, The Prague Spring 1968 (Budapest: CEU Press, 1994), pp. 212–233.

-294-

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