- What are your personal memories of 1989?
- How do you help students make sense of 1989?
- Which explanation for events in 1989 is most compelling?
- Why was there a communist/socialist return to power in Czechoslovakia?
- What is communism?
- What sources do you use to teach 1989?
- What else is significant about the Declaration of the Creation of Charter 77?
- How did the regime respond to Charter 77?
- Why is the 28th of January remarkable?
- How do you put the anti-Charter into context for students?
- How do you use the Charter Declaration and the anti-Charter together with students?
How did the regime respond to Charter 77?
My second source is one of the regime’s responses to Charter 77. After the Charter was published in the west, the regime responded initially with an article in Rude Pravo, the Communist Party daily newspaper.
It didn’t single out Charter 77, didn’t mention the document. It talked about people who were odpadliks, people who had fallen away from society. It talks about bankrupt politicians, obviously referring to people from 1968, talks about counter-revolutionaries. So the attentive reader could figure out that something was going on, but not exactly what was going on.
This got much worse on the 12th of January when an article that I translate as “wreckers” or “ruiners and usurpers” comes out. And it mentions the Charter explicitly and calls it the work of "international reaction which is trying to create the appearance of some kind of international front. And that the signatories were a group of people from the ranks of the bankrupt Czechoslovak bourgeoisie and also from the ranks of the bankrupt organizers of the counter-revolution of 1968." So now we’re getting a little bit closer to what’s going on.
They called the document an anti-state, anti-socialist, and anti-people against the people, __________ is the word that they use in Czech. And "demagogic libel which flagrantly and falsely slanders the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and the revolutionary achievements of the people. Its authors blame our society because life in it is not arranged in accordance with their bourgeoisie and elitist preconceptions." So you have the mention of the document and you have some language against the writers. They call Vaclav Havel the committed, anti-socialist and they list some of the major figures and attach epithets to them.
How to Cite
Bradley Abrams, interview, "How did the regime respond to Charter 77?" Making the History of 1989, Item #625, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/625 (accessed February 11 2016, 5:47 am).