The Prague Spring (tschechisch Prague Spring, Slovak Pražská jar) is the name given to the efforts of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KPČ) Alexander Dubček under in the spring 1968, a liberalization- enforce and democratization program, and especially the influence and reinforce these reform efforts through the rapidly developing critical public.
The term "Prague Spring" combine two opposing processes: one hand, the attempt, "socialism with a human face" (Czech: socialism with a human face) to accomplish, on the other hand, the violent suppression of this experiment by the 21. August 1968 invading troops of the Warsaw Pact.
The term "Prague Spring" comes from western media and is a continuation of the concept Thaw, which in turn goes back to the title of the novel thaw of Ilya Ehrenburg. In Prague itself is the "Prague Spring" also since the 1946 in the capital of Czechoslovakia, the city of Prague, understood regularly conducted Prague Spring Music Festival.
Since the early 1960s, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was in a profound economic and social crisis: The centralized bureaucratic planning system had a dramatic economic stagnation - out - even in comparison to the other CMEA countries; the Communist Party was dominated by a Stalinist-dominated leadership. She let z. B. an account of the political show trials (see e.g.. B. Milada Horakova, Rudolf Slansky) in the Gottwald era of the late 1940s and early 1950s not to.
Economic reform debates
The height of the economic crisis 1963 were finally reformist voices within and outside the party louder. Under the leadership of the Central Committee Member and Director of the Institute of Economics at the Prague Academy of Sciences Ota Šik a technocratic opposition made, the fundamental economic reforms demanded. According SIKS the planned economy should favor a "socialist market economy" - abandoned - with exemption of holdings of government and the reduction of bureaucracy. Among other things, suggested Šik the approval of Autonomous Trade Unions and privately owned small businesses, Joint ventures with Western companies, the introduction of workers' self-management and the end of state control of pricing before.
Ota Šik - who is not as revolutionary, but given the precarious situation of the Czechoslovak economy understood as a reformer - did not go so far, to provide the collectivization of agriculture and the people ownership of the means of production in question.
In The Year 1960 Czechoslovakia took the socialist constitution. In this new constitution, there was a significant narrowing of the competences of the Slovak national institutions, the powers of the Slovak National Council were transferred to the ministries in Prague. In the aftermath Slovakia learned through integration into the Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, although a large modernization, paid this but with the lack of political participation. Decisions of the KSS (Communist Party of Slovakia) had to be approved prior to the adoption in Prague. Since 1963 Alexander Dubček held the post of First Secretary of the KSS held. He advocated for the rehabilitation of the convicted in the 50s Slovak Communists and created a liberal climate in Slovakia (more liberal than in Prague), which in particular used the Slovak journalists and writers.
In the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Dubček was in opposition to Novotny, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the KPČ and presidents of Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic). Dubček wanted to, inter alia, can not remember combined in one person the functions of the Secretary of the Office of the President KPČ and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and also called for increasing the powers of the Slovak institutions. Novotny called Dubček a Slovak nationalists, what Dubček still in the fifties, as then, Gustav Husak, who also came from Slovakia and after the violent end of the Prague Spring should play a leading role in the restoration of the pro-Moscow policy (see below), would also like to prison once Husak. Now planned Novotny "only" Dubček deposition; peaked addressing Novotny Dubček in December 1967. But Novotny "lost": am 5. January 1968 he put his function as the first secretary of the party available.
The Slovak national movement was a decisive factor for the beginning of the Prague Spring.
For the critical intelligentsia extended in a "climate reluctantly tolerated liberalization and relatively ineffective reprisals by the political institutions," the possibilities of public expression, who were persecuted more attentive of a broad segment of the population. By the end of the year 1967 the critical public grew more and radicalized while in their criticism increasingly.
An early sign of this change was the "rehabilitation" of the long outlawed Franz Kafka, whose literary prestige on an international writers' meeting at Castle Liblice on 27. and 28. May 1963 was mooted. This became known as Kafka conference meeting there was a political discussion on the field of literary studies, being the subject of debate essentially the central Marxist concept of alienation was. Against the opinion of the participants, especially from the GDR, who saw Kafka as a victim of a personality cult and held it, that it could no longer be postulated by Karl Marx alienation of the worker from his work in socialism, represented the Czechoslovak delegates with the Austrian Ernst Fischer considered, that this could be the case very well and that we should see things, as they lay.
The discussion of the Kafka conference was taken up and continued by the Literary Gazette Literární noviny. This magazine was in the period following a major arena of conflict between the ideologues and the idealists. The magazine reached a remarkable for a country like Czechoslovakia edition of 140.000 Copies. She had to increasingly deal with sanctions of the Central Committee of the KPČ. The editor was replaced, but his successor could do little. At a congress of the Writers' Union in June 1967 practiced by Literární noviny sent delegates (three editors of the journal Ivan Klima, Antonín Jaroslav Liehm und Ludvik Vaculik) first direct criticism of the party leadership.
State- and party leader Antonín Novotný responded with a public statement, after which the congress a controlled from abroad campaign against the upcoming celebrations for 50. Is the anniversary of the October Revolution. The KPČ ordered the transformation of the editors of the magazine and banned a number of conference participants, darunter Pavel Kohout und Václav Havel, to stand in the elections of the Writers' Union. The above three editors were expelled from the party, other participants - such as Kohout - received warnings. The magazine was the Minister of Culture Karel Hoffmann assumed and immediately lost its function as a dissident member. All this, however, was seen as a sign, that Novotný had difficulty, like once brought down on the spot. So the sanctions instead resulted in a wide protest by journalists, Artists and writers, and a "legally unregulated, but disciplined Press anarchy ", in March 1968 should eventually culminate in the abolition of censorship, started, to develop.
All change in KPČ
Am 31. October 1967 Students protest against the conditions in their dorms. State- and party leader Antonín Novotný let dissolve the protests by force, However, a fact that prompted harsh criticism of the Central Committee. The Soviet Union, to which Novotný turned on, gave him to understand, that he could not count on help from Moscow, should be done even with its problems rather. At the beginning 1968 the years of tension between the left dogmatic and the reformist wing of the KPČ be unloaded. On the so-called January meeting of the Central Committee of the KPČ 4. January 1968 Novotný was as 1. Secretary of KPČ from 1. Secretary of the Communist Party of Slovakia, Alexander Dubček detached and retained only the power politics of little significance as President of the Republic for some time.
The change of leadership marked - after a few weeks of confusion about the new direction - the prelude to the reforms of the Czechoslovak government party, led in conjunction with the pressure of the public has become critical to the phenomenon of "Prague Spring". Dubček tried first, to slow the reformers in their zeal something, so as not to attract the suspicion of the other Eastern Bloc countries to be. This started already, to criticize the course of Czechoslovakia. Ota Šik was therefore not required as a member of the presidium, Moreover, not even the leadership of the Economic Committee, he was appointed. Rather, Dubček was directed at from a reform of the federal Constitution, what should the Slovaks grant greater autonomy rights.
As a programmatic basis for the reforms that served the 5. April 1968 presented action program KPČ, the particular economic reforms, Opinion- and freedom of information, aimed a reappraisal of the Stalinist past and a general realignment of the role of the Communist Party in society. This partisan political reforms but had not been recently anticipated due to the abolition of censorship in many ways already in the public debate on the reconstruction of society. The main points of the Programme of Action adopted by the government explanation of the first government Oldrich Cernik, which on 8. April 1968 Jozef Lenárt government replaced.
The objectives of the "Prague Spring" and the program of KPČ
Even if it is the "movement" of the Prague Spring not as such and thus impossible to define its goals "in itself", an attempt is made here, to give an overview of it.
The mood of the population was predominantly "consent to socialism, but only to a reformed, democratic " (not 'abolition of socialism'). In a survey conducted in July 1968 argued 89 % the Czechoslovak population favor of keeping the socialism. In the same survey, expressed only 7 % of the population dissatisfied with the government Dubček, the "socialism with a human face" advocated in its program. The basic goal was, to think of a new socialism, "Without self-appointed leaders [...], without gray workplaces and without callous bureaucracy ". In turn, the "human value above all values," and the system should be adapted to the circumstances of Czechoslovakia, rather than blindly copying of Moscow. The leading role is always still retains the KPČ, especially when the pressure began to grow from the outside.
In the field of political structure liberalization of all areas of life was planned, as well as the construction of the self KPČ. Centralism should be reduced, Concentrations of power, just to individuals, should be prevented, inner-party democracy and a return to a parliamentary model with bourgeois parties should be established.
The legal system of pluralism and freedom of expression should be further developed and used in practice application. In this context, is also often required rehabilitation of the victims of the processes of "fifties".
Leading architect of economic reforms was Ota Šik, who had designed a model of "human economic democracy". Thus, the central planning of the economy should be reduced to a minimum, the focus, however, competing against each other establishments should be, which - at least formally - were in the possession of their workers. The scientific and technical revolution should be promoted. In the companies themselves, there was a strong tendency for structures, in which employees and external stakeholders, as representative of the region, have decision-making powers and work closely.
The implementation of this reform plans would be a shift to an economy like Yugoslavia or even more closely with market mechanisms equaled. After the turn Ota Šik gave in an interview to, they have never actually had a reform of socialism but rather its abolition in mind.
The freedom of press, Science, Information and Tourism was an important step on the way to the intended cultural pluralism. This cultural pluralism was particularly the various nationalities in the CSSR. Minorities should cultural self-determination and development be granted and Slovakia, a constitutional equality in the form of a federalization of Czechoslovakia. On the Slovak half of the CSSR here was also the main focus.
In foreign policy, the primary objective was security in Europe. It is precisely the solution of the problem to the two against each other German states was standing here essential, just like the good relations of Czechoslovakia to Europe. The reformers were pretending, that the CSSR would still clearly oriented to the states of the Warsaw Pact, only the relations within the Alliance should walk away from the Soviet hegemony towards an equal partnership. At the same time, the idea of the "Prague Spring" should be taken to other countries in East and West continues. However, it is unclear, whether this rather tactical reasons concessions to the socialist camp were made, in order to forestall an intervention Moscow.
Arrested were these "goals" in the action program KPČ from 5. April 1968, from the at the plenary session of the Central Committee 29. March to 5. April was decided. However, these objectives could specify only a rough direction, labeled them but only the direction of a running process, should always be developed through constant discussions throughout society, and only by political measures are specifically.
Emancipation of the public
In February 1968 Dubček had lifted censorship of the press. In the media of the country then found a "true information explosion" instead. Accordingly, the action program in public was not amused, rather taken for granted but, opinion leadership had since moved out of the party for the people.
A testimony to this emancipation to the public was the declaration signed by intellectuals of various stripes Manifesto 2000 Ludvik Vaculik words of the writer in June 1968 as well as the resulting associations in the spring K 231 or KAN.
The Star reported in its issue no. 36 from 8. September 1968, on the activities of the "Send Battalion 701" Psychological Warfare of the Armed Forces, which during the Prague Spring with secret transmitters, such as "Radio Free Czechoslovakia" "Radio Free North Bohemia" and "Radio number seven" broadcast on frequencies switched Czechoslovakia stations. In this u.a. Given by misreporting, z.B. the Dubček was murdered or a children's hospital would be shot down in Prague. The star has denied the report later, but there have been charged on the basis of Article against the magazine allegations of treason.
Reaction of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union, who had the power of change Novotný to Dubček initially approved, but then quickly took an extremely skeptical position to the Czechoslovak development, deemed the "Manifesto of the 2000 Words "as a platform of counter-revolution. In this she was encouraged by the Deputy Prime Minister, Gustav Husak, spoke of an "atmosphere of terror".
Antonín Novotný (he was 5. January 1968 to resign as party leader and the 22. March was also forced to resign as president and was discharged in June from the Central Committee of the Communist Party) reported in two visits to the Soviet government, The Communist Party under Dubček am about, give up the power monopoly of the Communist Party.
In March 1968 were in Dresden (respectively. am 21. March 1968 in the New house hunters in barbecue bei Dresden) Government representatives of Czechoslovakia with those of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and the GDR - later known as the "Warsaw Five" designated States, which ultimately resulted in the intervention - come together, to discuss the situation in Czechoslovakia. Further meetings of the "Warsaw Five" found on the topic, this time without Czechoslovak participation, in May and June instead. Here, the Soviet pressure mounted on the government in Prague, significantly reduce the reforms. A military intervention soon became one of the threats, which exercised the Warsaw Pact pressure on his reformist member.
A few days after bilateral talks between the Czechoslovak and Soviet government was on 3. August inBratislava the last official meeting between Czechoslovakia and the "Warsaw Five" instead. The final communiqué adopted in Bratislava was seen in the CSSR as a sign of relaxation, because the various parties a national sovereignty should be given on their way to socialism. In fact, after the meeting the current Soviet preparations were stepped up to the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
New research, that Leonid Brezhnev (assumed unlike common) to prevent a military intervention tried and believed in the possibility of a political solution to the end. In disregard of the actual situation in Czechoslovakia, he shall have his intimate friend Dubček begged literally on the phone, to take the necessary steps to restore the supremacy of KPČ. In contrast, demanded the State- and party leaders of the German Democratic Republic and Bulgaria, Walter Ulbricht and Todor Zhivkov, as well as representatives of the military as Marshal Grechko decided the immediate military suppression of the reform movement. This derived from an analysis of the internal discussions of the Soviet party leadership lessons can later pronouncements of the Soviet leadership, one was willing to negotiate until the last moment, appear credible.
In addition, the conservative Czechoslovak opposition had used the meeting in Bratislava to, Official Soviet secret "invitation" come let, with which she asked for an intervention to prevent counter-revolution in Czechoslovakia.
- Warsaw Letter to the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
The Warsaw letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) from 15. July 1968 is also seen as Brezhnev Doctrine and carried 37 Days before the invasion of troops into Czechoslovakia. From the contents:
"It was and still is not our intention, interfere in such matters, the pronounced internal affairs of your party and your state are. It was and still is not our intention, violating the principles of respect for autonomy and equality in the relationship between the communist parties and the socialist countries ... "
"We can not agree, that enemy forces push your country from the path of socialism and would risk secession of Czechoslovakia from the socialist community. These are not just your affairs. These are the common affairs of all communist and workers' parties and all through Confederation, through collaboration and friendship united states. These are the common affairs of our states, who have united in the Warsaw Treaty, their independence, to ensure peace and security in Europe, an insurmountable barrier against the imperialist forces of aggression and revenge erect. "
Invasion of the troops of the Warsaw Pact countries
On the night of 21. August 1968 marched about half a million soldiers of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria in Czechoslovakia and occupied within a few hours, all strategically important positions in the country. It was this to be the largest military operation in Europe since 1945.
During the invasion died 98 Czechs and Slovaks. About 50 Soldiers of the intervention troops were killed. The National People's Army of the GDR did not take part in the occupation, However, there were two of its divisions on the border ready. Only about 30 NVA soldiers of a message unit stayed because of the military action in the command staff of the invading forces on the military training area Milovice.
The KPČ decided, to afford a military resistance. The NATO stood still; they could see from their radar stations on the summit of the Great Arber in the Bavarian Forest from the continuous landing of Soviet military aircraft at the Prague airport.
The President of Czechoslovakia, Ludvik Svoboda, called Czechs and Slovaks in a radio address on this, To remain calm. Dubček and other senior members of the government were arrested and taken to Moscow. There you can put them under pressure and they gradually ousted in favor of the Party line, Gustav Husak. In Czechoslovakia worked the actual plan of the USSR, to present a new government, due to the non-violent, closed protest not the population of the occupied country. The assertion, the KPČ have requested the invasion, was denied concluded by Czechoslovak page: For the actual "conspirators" the climate of opinion in the CSSR was unfavorable, to announce an open palace revolution. In the confusion of the first days of the occupation succeeded the Communist Party even, convene an extraordinary congress of the National Assembly, on which the invasion was explicitly condemned and the Dubček government confirmed in office.
Dubček renounced any military resistance, because it was considered a priori as hopeless. However, there were clashes between the civilian population and the invaders. On the first day of the invasion died 23 People. Up to 1. September cost of the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops 71 Czechoslovaks life. Of the Czech and Slovak population was attempted, to slow through civil disobedience and various actions the occupation. To name signs and street signs were twisted, painted over, smash or removed, so that those unfamiliar with the occupying forces were sent in the wrong direction. Thousands, mostly drawn yourself or even printed posters, which mocked the occupiers and calling for passive resistance, were, mainly in Prague and Bratislava, but also in other cities, distributed and stuck to the walls of houses and shop windows. The then Czechoslovak Radio played a major role. Thus, a mobile transmitting station was set up under the then head of Jiří Pelikán, to inform the population. Also, the ORF has played a major role, by informing the Czechoslovaks via shortwave transmitters in Austria. In their own country they were not or about the events. informed partly wrong. In addition, pirate radio played an important role, which were also not completely turned off by the Soviet occupation forces.
Statement of the Soviet news agency TASS
Am 21. August 1968 Spread the Soviet news agency TASS an official statement on the invasion of troops into Czechoslovakia: "TASS is authorized to declare, that figures in the party and the state of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic have to the Soviet Union and the other allied states approached with the request, the Czechoslovak People's brother urgent help, including assistance by armed forces, grant. This appeal has been triggered, as laid down in the Constitution socialist political system has been compromised by counter-revolutionary forces, have entered into a conspiracy with the external forces hostile to socialism. The events in and around Czechoslovakia were repeatedly subject of exchange of views of the leading figures of the fraternal socialist countries, including Czechoslovakia. These countries are unanimous in, that the support, the consolidation and protection of the socialist achievements of the people is the common international duty of all socialist countries. This their common position was formally proclaimed in the Bratislava Declaration. "
"The further escalation of the situation in Czechoslovakia affect the vital interests of the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, the interests of the security of the countries of the socialist community. The danger to the socialist system in Czechoslovakia is also a threat to the foundations of European peace. "
Non-participation of the GDR
The Deputy Minister of National Defense of the GDR Siegfried Weiss visited units and elements of the NVA, "Participating in the joint actions of the fraternal armies to protect the socialist achievements in Czechoslovakia"
Back in May 1968 is the combat readiness of the border troops was increased. The 7. Tank- and the 11. Motorized Rifle Division of the National People's Army of the GDR (NVA) were under from the 29. July 1968 the Soviet High Command. On the morning of 21. August, the civilian border traffic was stopped in the CSSR. Furthermore, close to the border villages were isolated and allowed to be accessed only by residents. Also on this day took the propaganda station Radio Vltavaits operation on. This station has been operated by the GDR and broadcast by Wilsdruff near Dresden towards Czechoslovakia on medium wave. The aim was to, to influence the population within the meaning of the Warsaw Pact countries. The transmitter presented in spring 1969 after massive protests Czechoslovakia to operate a.
In the invasion itself troops of the NVA did not participate. The decision about it was only a few hours before the beginning of the invasion and the NPA leadership from the supreme commander of the Warsaw Pact Marshal Jakubowski was informed. Presumably, the Czechs were in 30. Are not additionally exacerbated year after the Munich Agreement by the sight of invaders in German Uniform. In the mass media Pact countries still official comments were widely, that reported on the participation and the NVA.
The East German government evaluated the reduction of the role of the NVA to only supportive measures as a reset. In the GDR by the SED was a planned misleading the population instead, Reports were circulated by the use of NVA troops in Czechoslovakia. Which reflected in reports by Western journalists, which had fallen for deliberate misinformation from the NVA occurrence in the CSSR.
Am 23. August, the 11. Motorized Rifle Division moved closer to the Czechoslovak border in the room Adorf Auerbach Oelsnitz. Am 16. October 1968 the troops were again placed under the supreme command of the German Democratic Republic and moved back a day later to barracks.
As part of protests in the GDR were according to the Ministry of the Interior of 21. August to 4. September 1968 468 Arrested demonstrators and overall the identity of 1075 People found.
The Prague Spring
Am 23. August, two days after the start of the intervention, Ludvik Svoboda President was officially launched negotiations to Moscow, where its call back - was also attended by the members of the government in custody by Alexander Dubček - initially only unofficially.
The Moscow Protocol, which was adopted three days later, contained an abolition of almost all reform projects. With this result, a de facto surrender in luggage Dubček returned, which was initially still left in his offices, back to Prague, where he was first again received enthusiastic. After a few weeks, however, the population of Czechoslovakia could no longer doubt, that the "Prague Spring" with the 23. August had come to an end.
As a result of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops left tens of thousands of people, primarily skilled workers and intellectuals, the country. But after some fled Austria 96.000 People, other 66.000 Tourists came not from Austria back to Czechoslovakia. In the course of immediately set to work by Husak purges within the Communist Party almost half a million party members, the party membership was revoked.
In protest against the suppression of the Prague Spring, the student Jan Palach burned at 16. January 1969 themselves on Wenceslas Square in Prague. He died on 19. January, his injuries. His act was repeated a month later by Jan Zajíc at the same place.
Movies about the Prague Spring
- Renata Schmidtkunz: End of Spring - Prague 1968. AT, ORF, 45 Min., 2006 (Contents: Witnesses as the then-general manager ORF Gerd Bacher, Hugo Portisch, Helmut Zilk, Barbara Coudenhove-Calergi (AZ Vienna) and two spokesmen of the "Prague Spring", Pavel Kohout und George Gruša, now president of the International PEN International, remember and comment on rare archival footage. The predictability of the invasion is mentioned repeatedly.)
- Lutz pensioners & Frank Otto Sperlich: The Prague Spring and the GDR. DT, MDRFS, 45 Min., 2013, Original Air 20. August 2013 (Documentation with archival footage. Contents: Young people in the GDR dream, that the GDR is infected by the Prague Spring. Among other report Toni Krahl, Florian Havemann, and Friedrich Schorlemmer of their hopes and Losses, which they associated with the Prague Spring.)