Primary Sources

Announcement of a Protest in Bratislava

Description

In the summer of 1989, Slovak dissidents decided to commemorate the anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion by publicly laying flowers at various locations in Slovakia where citizens had been killed in 1968. They announced their plans in a letter to the Slovak government dated August 4, 1989. Copies of the letter were produced in samizdat (clandestine press) and secretly distributed throughout Slovakia. In Bratislava, the authorities arrested the five dissidents who had signed the letter. Though crowds gathered at the sites on the August 20 anniversary, the police prevented anyone from presenting flowers. In the Slovak press, the authors became known collectively as the 'Bratislava Five.' The public outcry that followed their arrest strengthened the ties between the different opposition groups in Slovakia, which united that fall to form Public Against Violence. This broad organization helped negotiate the peaceful transfer of power from the Communist authorities.

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Source

Miroslav KusĂ˝, et al., "Announcement to the Government Office of the Slovak Socialist Republic," August 4, 1989, trans. Zuzana Holcova, private collection of David Doellinger.

Primary Source—Excerpt

To the Government Office of Slovak Socialistic Republic in Bratislava.

In 1968, on the night of August 20th, armies of five states of the Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union entered Czechoslovakia. They violated international law and interrupted the democratic process that was practiced since the admission of Alexander Dubcek as the leader of the Communist party. Those who did not have the trust of the people were appointed into power.

The entry of the invading armies caused a spontaneous resistance of all people. Some of whom were shot to death.

Following were years of screenings, discharges from jobs, taking back of initial statements and of denials. We feel the consequences of this to this day.

When we remember the days past, we mostly recall our fellow citizens, who were shot in 1968. They died clean of all that followed after their deaths. That may be why they were supposed to be erased from our memories, and why all the commemorative plaques were removed from the places of their death.

This is to inform you that on August 20th at 7:00 PM, in Bratislava, Kosice and possibly in other Slovak towns, we will honor the memory of those killed.

In memory of all those killed in Bratislava we will place flowers first at the place of death of Danka Kosanova, in front of the building of Comenius University on Safarik's square at 7:00 PM. Later we will put flowers at the place of death of Petr Legner in front of the building of the main Post Office in Bratislava on the square of the Slovak National Uprising.

Our friends in Kosice will recall the memory of their dead in the same way in Lenin's square No. 7, in front of the building of today's Tuzex, on which a commemorative plaque with names of the dead was originally placed. We assume that those killed in August 1968 will also be remembered in a similar way in other towns in Slovakia.

Honoring the deceased ones in the places of their death is not subject to any duty to inform the authorities. Despite that we are informing you about our intentions, to avoid any misunderstandings.

Honor to the dead from August 1968.

Signatures:

Kusy, Ponicka, Selecky, Manak, Strycek (on behalf of Carnogursky)

To the knowledge of:
Czechoslovak Press Office
Literary Weekly Bratislava

How to Cite this Source

The Bratislava Five, "Announcement of a Protest in Bratislava," Making the History of 1989, Item #124, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/124 (accessed August 01 2014, 1:48 am).

Associated Files