Teleprint from CC CPCz to First Secretary CC CPS and Secretaries of Regional and District Committees
The Velvet Revolution was named for the remarkably non-violent end to communism in Czechoslovakia. Yet as Milos Jakes and his conservative government scrambled to respond to the aftermath of November 17, they were considering all options. In this November 19 directive to local party committee leaders, Jakes demonstrated his belief that the communists could maintain power with force if necessary. Attributing the protest to a few hysterical groups, Jakes nevertheless recognized the danger it could spread to the public. Because official media suppressed news about the unrest in Prague, students were organizing "missions" to spread word about November 17 and the general strike to isolated factories and villages. The directive demands that all necessary measures be taken to prevent the activists from accessing the workers, whose support was crucial to the government's survival. Note the instructions to prepare the People's Militia, the units of armed workers created to defend factories against anti-communist forces. These units were supposed to play a key role in the state's strategy to keep power. As it turned out, local Militia proved unwilling to mobilize against the students (often the same age as their own children). And as ordinary people took to the streets, the possibility of a violent resolution to the crisis soon became unrealistic.
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Central Committee, "Teleprint from CC CPCz to First Secretary CC CPCz and Secretaries of Regional and District Committees," 19 November 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).
As you are already informed, at the end of the commemorative procession on the participants 50th anniversary of the 17 November in Prague there occurred an anti-government demonstration by several participators. In view of the character of the event, necessary measures were undertaken by the disciplinary forces. As a result of the dissemination of incorrect information about the death of one of the participants—the student Martin Smid—a hostile psychosis arose, especially among the students and actors from the theaters in Prague and in some counties which announced a week-long strike and want to misuse the theater buildings in order to sway the residents with their opinions, which are in conflict with the interests of the majority of the citizens and the state.1
Their aim is to launch a general strike on 27 November in the CSSR. It is necessary to assume that they will try to influence the cultural workplace and schools in the entire republic. They even want infiltrate the factories and the JZD 2 [Standard Farming Cooperative] in order to gain support for their destabilizing plans from all strata of society.
Anti-socialist groups headed by the Charter [-77] are evidently behind this activity. The plan of action is coordinated by the Western media.
The Presidium calls on the regional and provincial committees to do everything necessary to reject the enemy’s efforts in the counties, districts, in the factories, in the cooperatives, in the schools and in other workplaces, and to ensure that uninterrupted work, peace and order be secured.
Within the framework of the adopted measures it is necessary to secure the readiness of the People’s Militia to protect the workplaces from the efforts of the enemy forces to penetrate into the workers’ collectives.
The Presidium has called on responsible workers to step up the offensive in their ideological work in this connection, especially in the media, with the aim of politically isolating the forces seeking an overthrow....