Primary Sources

Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior Memorandum, The Security Situation in the CSSR in the Period Before 28 October

Description

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 Interior describes independent groups' preparations for a public commemoration and state security forces' counter-measures to stop them. In large part the actions of both sides followed a pattern that had been developing throughout the year. Despite growing popular unrest, security measures (especially the arrest of key organizers) effectively prevented October 28 from turning into a massive anti-government protest. For their part, independent groups endeavored to maintain the legality of their activity and not provoke a reaction from police. October 28 signaled some important changes as well, including ever-increasing levels of organization in the opposition, numbers of demonstrators and aggressiveness of participants, especially younger ones. On the other hand, police were more restrained than before. This would be the last major demonstration before November 17, when police brutality provoked the wide-scale public mobilization against the regime that would become the Velvet Revolution.

Source

Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior, "The Security Situation in the CSSR in the Period Before 28 October," 25 October 1989, trans. Caroline Kovtun, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...

Characteristic of the developments of the security situation in the CSSR are the increasing tendencies of the internal enemy to bring out anti-socialist moods in the public by means of anonymous letters and flyers, particularly in Bohemia, in connection with the 71st anniversary of the CSR. The organizers wish to ensure the widest participation of citizens (most of all youth) in prepared provocative gatherings during which the celebration of 28 October will be used to glorify T. G. Masaryk and the bourgeois state.

The evidence for this lies in the continuing distribution of anonymous letters in high schools in which authors summon the people to the "dignified celebration of 28 October" and give prominence to the work of T. G. Masaryk.... In northern, western, southern and eastern Bohemia and Prague flyers of the coordinating board of the so-called Movement for Civic Freedom (HOS) and the Czechoslovak Democratic Initiatives (CSDI) are being circulated. They call for participation in the "celebrations" on 28 October ... The organizers of the acts sent letters to the National Committees in Susice, Nachod and Chomutov with a request for permission for a "ceremonial gathering," referring to article 28 of the constitution of the CSSR. The "Declaration of the Charter 77 on 28 October", signed by its speakers and Havel, is being distributed at the same time ...

...

The leadership of the Hungarian Federation of Young Citizens (FIDESZ) is pushing its members to "help" the Czechoslovak independent initiatives on 28 October during the organization of a gathering of citizens in Prague and other cities.... Analogous activity should be anticipated from anti-socialist forces in Poland.

...

Through effected security measures, a meeting of the delegates of the so-called independent initiatives (Renewal, Movement for Civic Freedom, Czechoslovak Democratic Initiatives and NMS) on 12 October was successfully impeded. The meeting was supposed to prepare a common declaration of illegal organizations on the 28 October anniversary....

Furthermore, in order to prevent the enemy's ability to plan acts before the 71st anniversary of the CSR, security measures were carried out . . .

In the effected security measures, in total 43 exponents of illegal organizations were detained and brought in, several of them repeatedly....

In cooperation with the prosecutor's office warnings will also be given to other main organizers of enemy acts and activists of illegal organizations ... these individuals will be under the control of the organs of the SNB with the aim of preventing their participation and contribution in the organization and coordination of confrontational acts.

For the prevention of wider distribution of flyers and the recurrence of anti-socialist signs, an operational investigation will be organized and the output of disciplinary services will be strengthened.

In the future any meetings of the so-called independent initiatives will be stopped to prevent their unification. In order to prevent the transmission of tendentious reports by telephone, technical measures will be carried out against the known informers of the editorial board of RFE and VA....

...

In cooperation with Czechoslovak media, particularly those operating nationwide, evidence of their resolute offensive propagandist influence is prepared with intent to discourage adherents and those sympathizing with illegal organizations from engaging in anti-socialist acts.

In the event of a so-called "silent march" papers will be checked and actively participating individuals will be brought in to SNB departments. If it should come to petitions, verbal attacks or spontaneous demonstrations of opposition to the party and state leadership and politics of the CPCz, disciplinary units will be called in to drive the crowd out of the area and disperse it.

If despite the effected measures it should come to a mass anti-social gathering, disciplinary forces will be called in to carry out necessary decisive intervention and to restore order through technical means.

How to Cite this Source

Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior, "Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior Memorandum, The Security Situation in the CSSR in the Period Before 28 October," Making the History of 1989, Item #432, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/432 (accessed April 19 2014, 11:22 pm).

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