Browse Items: Charter 77
Vaclav Havel wrote this work in 1979. The essay begins the intellectual attacks that Havel, the future President of a democratic Czechoslovakia, made against the Communist regime controlling his country. Rather than rely solely on political arguments, Havel argues here that, in fact, cultivating an individual "sphere of truth" will ultimately destroy the totalitarian communist government. ….
In 1976, the Czech psychedelic rock band, the Plastic People of the Universe, were arrested and tried by the Czech Communist government. The government convicted the band for disturbing the peace, with the band members serving 8 to 18 month sentences. In response to the arrest of the band, a group of Czech artists, writers, and musicians, including Vaclav Havel, circulated a petition for their….
Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior Memorandum, "Information Regarding the Development of the Security Situation During the Period of the 17 November Anniversary"
Despite the growing pressure for change in the autumn of 1989, Czechoslovak officials did not automatically view the November 17 commemoration as a major security risk. Unlike the other politically-charged anniversaries that had increasingly become beacons for protest, this date did not ideologically threaten communism. In fact, it had been officially recognized since World War II and in 1989,….
For many years, opposition in Czechoslovakia was represented mainly by Charter 77, a group advocating human rights and peaceful, evolutionary change. By autumn 1989, the opposition community had grown and diversified so much that discussions were underway to unite the different groups into a common organization. This finally happened two days after the fateful November 17 demonstration, when….
Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior Memorandum, The Security Situation in the CSSR in the Period Before 28 October
October 28 holds a special place on the Czechoslovak political calendar because on that day the First Czechoslovak Republic was established in 1918. This liberal bourgeois state, symbolized by its founding father and President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, was a powerful counter-example to socialist Czechoslovakia and a magnet for anti-communist protest. This 1989 report from the Ministry of the….
In October 1989, the situation was growing dire for the Czechoslovak communists. Increasing unrest and change in other Eastern Bloc countries was quickly isolating conservatives and emboldening the domestic opposition. In the analysis presented here, Federal Minister of the Interior Frantisek Kincl details a number of domestic security threats. The first was the opposition's increased level of….
As a result of the intensifying public demonstrations in the first half of 1989, the Czechoslovak Communist Party increased its surveillance and suppression of independent and opposition groups, particularly in anticipation of politically-charged anniversaries. This Secret Police (StB) memorandum details preparations by various groups to commemorate the August 21st anniversary of the 1968….
International relations specialist and key Gorbachev advisor Vadim Zagladin made this report to the Soviet Politburo in early April 1989. In it, Zagladin recounts his conversation with Jan Pudlak, a high-ranking Czechoslovak official, about the situation in Pudlak's country. Zagladin's main impressions from the discussion include the inflexibility of the ruling elite, their inability to….
On September 18, 1990, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher addressed the Czechoslovak Parliament in Prague. In her speech, Thatcher raised three main points that reflect the major tenants of her European policies in the wake of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. First, she highlighted the long history of cooperation and cultural ties that existed on a bilateral level between….
On March 21, 1990 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hosted a delegation from Czechoslovakia, including the newly elected president Vaclav Havel. One of Prime Minister Thatcher's major initiatives following the collapse of communism was the creation of the "Know How Fund," a fund created to assist economic, political, and cultural development in Eastern Europe. Relative to what other….
In 1976, the government of Czechoslovakia arrested the Czech psychedelic rock band, the Plastic People of the Universe, for disturbing the peace. In the subsequent trials, the band members were convicted and sentenced to 8 to 18 months in prison. In response to the arrest of the band, a group of Czech artists, writers, and musicians, including Vaclav Havel, circulated a petition for their….