Primary Sources

Czechoslovak Secret Police Memorandum, "Information on the Security Situation . . "

Description

This Secret Police (StB) memorandum from 21 August details the plans of independent and opposition groups to commemorate the politically-sensitive anniversary of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion, and the police's "extraordinary security measures" to prevent the commemorations from taking place. The memorandum presents a striking picture of the scale and diversity of the repressive measures carried out for this event, which represented the culmination of the StB's experience since the first major public demonstrations in August 1988. Their preemptive strikes ranged from arresting known activists to counter-propaganda to the possible use on crowds of "technical equipment" (i.e., armored carriers and water cannons). The report also provides a window onto the state's logic in suppressing the demonstrations. Demonstrators were aware of the repressive apparatus that was ready to strike, and therefore on August 21 they organized silent walks through the pedestrian zones of major cities rather than holding rallies. Note how the memorandum presents this strategy as an act of willful provocation designed to stir up anti-government sentiment.

Source

Czechoslovak Secret Police(StB), memorandum, "Information on the Security Situation and Further Tasks in the Struggle Against the Internal Enemy," 21 August 1989, trans. Caroline Kovtun, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...

The fundamental issue in the activity of the opponent is the preparation for public appearances on 20-21 August, 1989. As the result of security measures carried out ... the opponents' opinions about the character of these acts significantly differ and are divided. From the marginal (demonstrations on Wenceslas Square with a clash with police ... ) through the "re-strained" to the opinion not to hold any public events ...

At the present time, the "silent march" variation of demonstrating in the pedestrian zone in Prague on 20- 21 August 1989, dominates in the enemy camp....

... We are dealing with the tactics of an opponent who does not call directly for open enemy manifestations, but tries to create the appearance of a peaceful gathering of citizens. The opponent is counting on the creation of a tense situation during a greater gathering of people, which will then easily lead to a demonstration of spontaneous protest against the politics of the CPCz.

...

A set of complex measures in preventive and repressive areas is being carried out to frustrate the plans and goals of the opponent.

Technical measures were carried out to prevent the communication of news abroad by telephone by known informers of the editorial staff of Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. All meetings of the so-called initiatives are being stopped with the aim of not allowing them to unite.

...

In the area of counter-propaganda, materials are being distributed which document the enemy activity of the main organizers, in order to discredit them to the public-at-large.

The chief exponents of the so-called independent initiatives and known individuals from the enemy environment will be under the control of the organs of the SNB [National Security Force] so that they will not be able to participate in enemy activities.

...

In the event that the so-called "silent march" takes place, documents will be checked and individuals actively participating in the organization of the SNB [National Security Force] will be summoned. If petitions, verbal attacks or spontaneous declarations of opposition against the party and state leadership and the police of the CSSR should come to pass, security units will be called in to force out and disperse the crowd from the area.

...

It has been proven that the internal and external enemy considers the anniversary of 21 August as an opportunity to confront the state powers and to discredit the present leadership of the party and the state.

...

The existence and activity of illegal organizations and the prolonged and increasing influence of the western media ... impacts in a negative way on a segment of our population.

With regard to these realities it is impossible to rule out the possibility that during the so-called silent demonstration on the 20-21 August 1989, an atmosphere will be created among the participants that could grow into an open display of enmity toward the state and the party as a start of a series of further acts planned during the course of this year and the beginning of the next, aimed at destabilizing the society.

This is the reason for the preparation of necessary security measures for the frustration of their confrontational plans.

How to Cite this Source

Czechoslovak Secret Police, "Czechoslovak Secret Police Memorandum, "Information on the Security Situation . . "," Making the History of 1989, Item #408, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/408 (accessed April 18 2014, 9:52 am).

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