Primary Sources

Czechoslovak Secret Police Memorandum, "Information Regarding the Situation in the CSSR"

Description

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 Warsaw Pact invasion. The neo-Stalinist Czechoslovak government had based its legitimacy on this invasion—which officials called "international assistance"—and had banned any public observance that undermined its interpretation of the event. The high stakes are reflected in the StB's uncompromising attitude towards all non-official demonstrations. The report demonstrates the Secret Police's intimate knowledge of the main opposition community, including its internal divisions over protest strategies. It also shows the proliferation of activity beyond the established opposition to include initiatives outside of Prague and trans-national cooperation with groups in Poland and Hungary, among others. In the end, the August 21 demonstrations were effectively muffled through preemptive arrests by the Secret Police and self-restraint on the part of the main opposition groups. But these measures would become less effective at controlling the expanding circle of public activism in the months to follow.

Source

Czechoslovak Secret Police(StB), memorandum, "Information Regarding the Situation in the CSSR up to 20 August 1989," 20 August 1989, trans. Vance Whitby, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

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Internally, "Charter-77" has been somewhat divided over questions of policy and tactics in preparation for a confrontational rally. The older "[C]harter-77" signatories are determined to stop any activities on 21 August while the more radically oriented youth groups are contemplating an open clash with state authority, even at the cost of provocation. They have declared they are even willing to allow themselves to be shot for their cause. Within the internal enemy groups, a strong moderate center exists which has been pushing for a peaceful demonstration in the form of a procession around the pedestrian zone.

...

Further, information has been confirmed regarding preparations for the anti-socialist rally on 21 August, organized by activists of the so-called Independent Initiatives in certain cities in the western Bohemian, southern Bohemian, southern Moravian, northern Moravian, central Slovakian, and eastern Slovakian regions.... The effort of the enemy will be to draw the attention of security services away from Prague to other regions....

Appreciable activity in support of the so-called Czechoslovak Independent Initiatives is being generated by Polish and Hungarian opposition groups....

...

Within the last two days on state territory there have been more than 150 leaflets discovered, which have made a particular call for participation in the protest rally on 21 August and the denouncement of the international assistance provided in 1968.... This involves only those cases discovered by NSC [National Security Committee] organs and informers; the actual number is likely much higher. During the same period, 15 opprobrious signs were discovered at public locations and promptly removed. In Brno, an unknown perpetrator made a telephone call threatening the destruction of the MC CPCz building (Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia).

...

How to Cite this Source

Czechoslovak Secret Police, "Czechoslovak Secret Police Memorandum, "Information Regarding the Situation in the CSSR"," Making the History of 1989, Item #407, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/407 (accessed November 26 2014, 11:11 am).

Associated Files