Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia was created in 1918 from territory that had previously been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As well as the seven million Czechs, two million Slovaks, 700,000 Hungarians and 450,000 Ruthenians there were three and a half million German speaking people living in Czechoslovakia.

Eduard Benes became foreign minister of the new country. He worked hard for the League of Nations and attempted to obtain good relations with other nations in Europe. Benes replaced Tomas Masaryk when he retired as president in 1935.

Although Czechoslovakia had never been part of Germany, these people liked to call themselves Germans because of their language. Most of these people lived in the Sudetenland, an area on the Czechoslovakian border with Germany. The German speaking people complained that the Czech-dominated government discriminated against them. German's who had lost their jobs in the depression began to argue that they might be better off under Hitler.

Adolf Hitler wanted to march into Czechoslovakia but his generals warned him that with its strong army and good mountain defences Czechoslovakia would be a difficult country to overcome. They also added that if Britain, France or the Soviet Union joined on the side of Czechoslovakia, Germany would probably be badly defeated. One group of senior generals even made plans to overthrow Hitler if he ignored their advice and declared war on Czechoslovakia.

In September 1938, Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, met Hitler at his home in Berchtesgaden. Hitler threatened to invade Czechoslovakia unless Britain supported Germany's plans to takeover the Sudetenland. After discussing the issue with the Edouard Daladier (France) and Eduard Benes (Czechoslovakia), Chamberlain informed Hitler that his proposals were unacceptable.

Adolf Hitler was in a difficult situation but he also knew that Britain and France were unwilling to go to war. He also thought it unlikely that these two countries would be keen to join up with the Soviet Union, whose communist system the western democracies hated more that Hitler's fascist dictatorship.

Benito Mussolini suggested to Hitler that one way of solving this issue was to hold a four-power conference of Germany, Britain, France and Italy. This would exclude both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and therefore increasing the possibility of reaching an agreement and undermine the solidarity that was developing against Germany.

The meeting took place in Munich on 29th September, 1938. Desperate to avoid war, and anxious to avoid an alliance with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier agreed that Germany could have the Sudetenland. In return, Hitler promised not to make any further territorial demands in Europe. Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier and Benito Mussolini signed the Munich Agreement which transferred the Sudetenland to Germany.

When Eduard Benes, Czechoslovakia's head of state, protested at this decision, Neville Chamberlain told him that Britain would be unwilling to go to war over the issue of the Sudetenland.

The German Army marched into the Sudetenland on 1st October, 1938. As this area contained nearly all the country's mountain fortifications, she was no longer able to defend herself against further aggression.

By March 1939 the whole of Czechoslovakia was under the control of Germany. The Czech Army was disbanded and the Germans took control of the country's highly developed arms industry.

In 1941 Eduard Benes became head of a Czechoslovakia provisional government in London. Benes maintained a good relationship with Joseph Stalin and on 12th December 1943 he signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.

In March 1945 Benes flew to Moscow and after meeting Stalin agreed that in his post-war coalition he would accept several Soviet-trained Czechs. Benes and Jan Masaryk accompanied the Russian-sponsored Czechoslovak Corps that liberated the country from Nazi Germany in May 1945.

Eduard Benes became president of Czechoslovakia but in the 1946 general election the Communist Party won the largest number of parliamentary seats with 38 per cent of the votes. Klement Gottwald set up a National Front government but caused great controversy when under the orders of Joseph Stalin, he rejected Marshall Aid.

In June 1948, when it became clear that Gottwald intended to introduce a Russian-style political system, Benes resigned from office. Later that year Jan Masaryk was found dead. He had either been murdered or had committed suicide in protest at the imposition of a Stalinist political system.

Leaders of the Communist Party were also purged. Rudolf Slansky, General-Secretary of the Communist Party, refused to follow the orders of Joseph Stalin and in September, 1951, he was arrested and charged with being a follower of Josip Tito of Yugoslavia. Slansky was executed on 2nd December, 1952.

When Klement Gottwald died in 1953 Antonin Novotny replaced him as first secretary of the party. Over the next few years he introduced central planning and concentrated on the needs of heavy industry. In 1958 Novotny became president of Czechoslovakia.

In the early 1960s the country suffered an economic recession. Antonin Novotny, the president of Czechoslovakia, was forced to make liberal concessions and in 1965 he introduced a programme of decentralization. The main feature of the new system was that individual companies would have more freedom to decide on prices and wages.

These reforms were slow to make an impact on the Czech economy and in September 1967, Alexander Dubcek, secretary of the Slovak Communist Party, presented a long list of grievances against the government. The following month there were large demonstrations against Novotny.

In January 1968 the Czechoslovak Party Central Committee passed a vote of no confidence in Antonin Novotny and he was replaced by Alexander Dubcek as party secretary. Gustav Husak, a Dubcek supporter, became his deputy. Soon afterwards Dubcek made a speech where he stated: "We shall have to remove everything that strangles artistic and scientific creativeness."

During what became known as the Prague Spring, Dubcek announced a series of reforms. This included the abolition of censorship and the right of citizens to criticize the government. Newspapers began publishing revelations about corruption in high places. This included stories about Novotny and his son. On 22nd March 1968, Novotny resigned as president of Czechoslovakia. He was now replaced by a Dubcek supporter, Ludvik Svoboda.

In April 1968 the Communist Party Central Committee published a detailed attack on Novotny's government. This included its poor record concerning housing, living standards and transport. It also announced a complete change in the role of the party member. It criticized the traditional view of members being forced to provide unconditional obedience to party policy. Instead it declared that each member "has not only the right, but the duty to act according to his conscience."

The new reform programme included the creation of works councils in industry, increased rights for trade unions to bargain on behalf of its members and the right of farmers to form independent co-operatives.

Aware of what happened during the Hungarian Uprising Dubcek announced that Czechoslovakia had no intention of changing its foreign policy. On several occasions he made speeches where he stated that Czechoslovakia would not leave the Warsaw Pact or end its alliance with the Soviet Union.

In July 1968 the Soviet leadership announced that it had evidence that the Federal Republic of Germany was planning an invasion of the Sudetenland and asked permission to send in the Red Army to protect Czechoslovakia. Alexander Dubcek, aware that the Soviet forces could be used to bring an end to Prague Spring, declined the offer.

On 21st August, 1968, Czechoslovakia was invaded by members of the Warsaw Pact countries. In order to avoid bloodshed, the Czech government ordered its armed forces not to resist the invasion. Alexander Dubcek and Ludvik Svoboda were taken to Moscow and soon afterwards they announced that after "free comradely discussion" that Czechoslovakia would be abandoning its reform programme.

In April 1969 Dubcek was replaced as party secretary by Gustav Husak. The following year he was expelled from the party and for the next 18 years worked as a clerk in a lumber yard in Slovakia.

Over the next few years Husak purged the government of Dubcek supporters and re-established Communist Party discipline. He also introduced moderate reforms and a new federalist constitution.

In 1987 Husak opposed the Perestroika policy of Mikhail Gorbachev. When it became clear that the overwhelming majority of people in Czechoslovakia supported Gorbachev, he resigned as general secretary.

After the collapse of communism government in November 1989, Husak was expelled from the Communist Party. Alexander Dubcek was elected chairman of the Federal Assembly and was awarded the Sakharov Peace Prize.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Neville Chamberlain, letter to King George VI (13th September, 1938)

The continued state of tension in Europe which has caused such grave concern throughout the world has in no way been relieved, and in some ways been aggravated by the speech delivered at Nuremberg last night by Herr Hitler. Your Majesty's Ministers are examining the position in the light of his speech, and with the firm desire to ensure, if this is at all possible, that peace may be restored.

On the one hand, reports are daily received in great numbers, not only from official sources but from all manner of individuals who claim to have special and unchangeable sources of information. Many of these (and of such authority as to make it impossible to dismiss them as unworthy of attention) declare positively that Herr Hitler has made up his mind to attack Czechoslovakia and then to proceed further East. He is convinced that the operation can be effected so rapidly that it will be all over before France or Great Britain could move.

On the other hand, Your Majesty's representative in Berlin has steadily maintained that Herr Hitler has not yet made up his mind to violence. He means to have a solution soon - this month - and if that solution, which must be satisfactory to himself, can be obtained peacefully, well and good. If not, he is ready to march.

In these circumstances I have been considering the possibility of a sudden and dramatic step which might change the whole situation. The plan is that I should inform Herr Hitler that I propose at once to go over to Germany to see him. If he assents, and it would be difficult for him to refuse, I should hope to persuade him that he had an unequalled opportunity of raising his own prestige and fulfilling what he has so often declared to be his aim, namely the establishment of an Anglo-German understanding, preceded by a settlement of the Czechoslovakian question.

Of course I should not be able to guarantee that Dr. Benes would accept this solution, but I should undertake to put all possible pressure on him to do so. The Government of France have already said that they would accept any plan approved by Your Majesty's Government or by Lord Runciman.

(2) Duff Cooper, diary entry (30th September, 1938)

The full terms of the Munich agreement are in the papers this morning. At first sight I felt that I couldn't agree to them. The principle of invasion remains. The German troops are to march in tomorrow and the Czechs arc to leave all their installations intact. This means that they will have to hand over all their fortifications guns etc. upon which they have spent millions, and that they will receive no compensation for them. The international commission will enjoy increased powers but our representative on it is to be Nevile Henderson, who in my opinion has played a sorry part in the whole business and who is violently anti-Czech and pro-German. While I was dressing this morning I decided that I must resign.

I went to see Oliver Lyttelton at the Board of Trade. Walter Elliot was there They are both of opinion that we should accept these terms. Walter said he felt that if I went he ought to go too. I said that was not my view. It would be easier for me to go alone, as I had no wish to injure the Government, which I should not do if my resignation were the only one. We talked at some length and reached no conclusion.

When I got back to the Admiralty I learnt that there was to be a Cabinet at seven. The Prime Minister arrived at about twenty past seven amid scenes of indescribable enthusiasm. He spoke to the mob from the window. I felt very lonely in the midst of so much happiness that I could not share.

The Cabinet meeting lasted little more than half an hour. The Prime Minister explained the differences between the Munich and the Godesberg terms, and they are really considerably greater than I had understood. Nevertheless after a few questions had been asked and many congratulations had been offered, I felt it my duty to offer my resignation.

I said that not only were the terms not good enough but also that I was alarmed about the future. We must all admit that we should not have gone so far to meet Germany's demands if our defences had been stronger. It had more than once been said in Cabinet that after having turned the corner we must get on more rapidly with rearmament. But how could we do so when the Prime Minister had just informed the crowd that we had peace "for our time" and that we had entered into an agreement never to go to war with Germany.

The Prime Minister smiled at me in a quite friendly way and said that it was a matter to be settled between him and me. And so it was left.

(3) Clement Attlee, As It Happened (1954)

When, with Austria in his possession. Hitler opened his campaign against Czechoslovakia in the late spring of 1938 I was much concerned. I had many friends among the Czech socialists and I also knew Dr. Benes and Jan Masaryk very well. Czechoslovakia was the only real democracy among the Succession States.

I did not believe that Hitler could be argued out of his plan to absorb this key strategic State in the German Reich. We in our Party were violently opposed to Fascism. We had seen with horror the persecution of the Jews and the socialists in Germany.

Chamberlain informed me of his intention to fly to Germany to see Hitler, which he thought was a possible way of averting war. I told him that I had little faith in the venture, but I could not oppose his action provided that he stood firm on principle. He informed the House of his intention just when we were about to debate Foreign Affairs. I said that no chance should be neglected of preserving peace without sacrifice of principle. But it was just this sacrifice which was made. On his return from Munich with a piece of paper we realised that the pass had been sold and we sat silent while the majority of the Tories stood up and cheered.

It was on the 3rd October, 1938, that Chamberlain reported to the House of Commons on his visit to Munich. I recall that before the Prime Minister made his statement. Duff Cooper (later Lord Norwich) made a personal explanation of the reasons that had led him to resign from the Government the previous day. Following immediately after Chamberlain, I spoke at some length and perhaps the line I took can be summed up in a couple of sentences early in my speech: "The events of these last few days constitute one of the greatest defeats that this country and France have ever sustained. There can be no doubt that it is a tremendous victory for Herr Hitler."

(4) Neville Chamberlain, radio broadcast (27th September, 1938)

How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing! I would not hesitate to pay even a third visit to Germany, if I thought it would do any good.

Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me; but if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force, I should feel that it must be resisted. Under such a domination, life for people who believe in liberty would not be worth living; but war is a fearful thing, and we must be very clear, before we embark on it, that it is really the great issues that are stake.

(5) Statement issued by Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler after the signing of the Munich Agreement (30th September)

We, the German Führer and Chancellor and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for the two countries and for Europe.

We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as Symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries.

(6) Vernon Bartlett was in Godesberg working for the Daily Chronicle when Neville Chamberlain met Adolf Hitler on 22nd September 1938. He wrote about it in his book And Now, Tomorrow (1960)

Very late that night we learnt that agreement had been reached. But the people whom it principally concerned - the Czechoslovaks - had not been consulted. When it was all over, and the German journalists who had shown such alarm a week earlier were standing on the tables and toasting everybody in large glasses of beer, I watched the two Czech observers enter Mr. Chamberlain's room on the first floor of the Hotel Regina at 2 a.m. in order to learn the fate of their country. "Two days ago," I wrote in my dispatch, "the British and French governments were prepared to help Czechoslovakia if she were attacked; the same governments are now pledged to hold themselves responsible for the fulfilment of the plan for German occupation." It was clear to the Czechoslovak representatives, and surely to everybody else who was there except the British Prime Minister himself, that the independence of their country had been signed away by statesmen (the word should, perhaps, be printed in inverted commas) whose fear had stifled all sense of honour.

(7) Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty, diary entry (30th September, 1938)

The full terms of the Munich agreement are in the papers this morning. At first sight I felt that I couldn't agree to them Theprinciple of invasion remains. The German troops are to march in tomorrow and the Czechs arc to leave all their installations intact. This means that they will have to hand over all their fortifications guns etc. upon which they have spent millions, and that they will receive no compensation for them. The international commission will enjoy increased powers but our representative on it is to be Nevile Henderson, who in my opinion has played a sorry part in the whole business and who is violently anti-Czech and pro-German. While I was dressing this morning I decided that I must resign.

I went to see Oliver Lyttelton at the Board of Trade. Walter Elliot was there They are both of opinion that we should accept these terms. Walter said he felt that if I went he ought to go too. I said that was not my view. It would be easier for me to go alone, as I had no wish to injure the Government, which I should not do if my resignation were the only one. We talked at some length and reached no conclusion.

When I got back to the Admiralty I learnt that there was to be a Cabinet at seven. The Prime Minister arrived at about twenty past seven amid scenes of indescribable enthusiasm. He spoke to the mob from the window. I felt very lonely in the midst of so much happiness that I could not share.

The Cabinet meeting lasted little more than half an hour. The Prime Minister explained the differences between the Munich and the Godesberg terms, and they are really considerably greater than I had understood. Nevertheless after a few questions had been asked and many congratulations had been offered, I felt it my duty to offer my resignation.

I said that not only were the terms not good enough but also that I was alarmed about the future. We must all admit that we should not have gone so far to meet Germany's demands if our defences had been stronger. It had more than once been said in Cabinet that after having turned the corner we must get on more rapidly with rearmament. But how could we do so when the Prime Minister had just informed the crowd that we had peace "for our time" and that we had entered into an agreement never to go to war with Germany.

The Prime Minister smiled at me in a quite friendly way and said that it was a matter to be settled between him and me. And so it was left.

(8) Winston Churchill, The Second World War (1948)

For the French Government to leave her faithful ally Czechoslovakia to her fate was a melancholy lapse from which flowed terrible consequences. Not only wise and fair policy, but chivalry, honour, and sympathy for a small threatened people made an overwhelming concentration. Great Britain, who would certainly have fought if bound by treaty obligations, was nevertheless now deeply involved, and it must be recorded with regret that the British Government not only acquiesced but encouraged the French Government in a fatal course.

(9) Henry (Chips) Channon, diary entry (15th March, 1938)

Hitler has entered Prague, apparently, and Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist. No balder, bolder departure from the written bond has ever been committed in history. The manner of it surpassed comprehension and his callous desertion of the Prime Minister is stupefying. I can never forgive him. It is a great day for the Socialists and for the Edenites. The PM must be discouraged and horrified. He acceded to the demand of the Opposition for a debate and the business of the House was altered. Then he rose, and calmly, but I am sure with a broken heart made a frank statement of the facts as he knew them. The reports were largely unconfirmed and based on press reports; consequently the PM was obliged to be cool and so was accused of being unmoved by events. I thought he looked miserable. His whole policy of appeasement is in ruins. Munich is a torn-up episode. Yet never has he been proved more abundantly right for he gave us six months of peace in which we re-armed, and he was right to try appeasement. I was relieved at how little personal criticism there was of the Apostle of Peace, and Grenfell who opened for the Opposition, was more impressive than Attlee he was saner, more manly, more eloquent and he held the attention and regard of the House.

(10) The Manchester Guardian (16th March, 1939)

As a human tragedy, the extinction of the Czechoslovak Republic transcends imagination. It is the first time that Hitler has invaded and conquered a country that is not "German" in a "racial" sense. He has again and again professed that he wants only Germans in Germany and a "racially" homogeneous Reich. In his speech on September 26, he said, "I do not want any Czechs." He has now incorporated the entire Czech population in the Reich.

Was it necessary for him to occupy Prague? It was not, for the Czechs capitulated even before the supreme humiliation was inflicted. The reasons for the occupation lie in Hitler's own nature. He is a German romantic, and to him Prague is a city of romance, of ancient legend, and associated with Germany's distant past. He also hates the Czechs intensely, and has been impelled by the wish - very evident in his speeches for nearly a year - to humiliate them and crush them.

(11) The Manchester Guardian (17th March, 1939)

Prague, a sorrowing Prague, yesterday had its first day of German rule - a day in which the Czechs learned of the details of their subjection to Germany, and in which the Germans began their measures against the Jews and against those people who have "opened their mouths too wide." Prague's streets were jammed with silent pedestrians wandering about, looking out of the corners of their eyes at German soldiers carrying guns, at armoured cars, and at other military precautions. Some Czechs were seen turning up their noses at the Germans. Germans were everywhere. Bridges were occupied by troops and each bridge-head had a heavy machine-gun mounted on a tripod and pointing to the sky. Every twenty yards along the pavement two machine-guns were mounted facing each other.

Suicides have begun. The fears of the Jews grow. The funds of the Jewish community have been seized, stopping Jewish relief work. The Prague Bar Council has ordered all its "non-Aryan" members to stop practicing at once. The organization for Jewish emigration has been closed. Hundreds of people stood outside the British Consulate shouting: "We want to get away!" This is only the beginning. According to an official spokesman of the German Foreign Office in Berlin last night, the Gestapo (secret police) will have rounded up hundreds of "harmful characters" within the next few days. So far about fifty to a hundred men have been put in local gaols. "There are certain centres of resistance which need to be cleaned up," said the spokesman. "Also some people open their mouths too wide. Some of them neglected to get out in time. They may total several thousand before we are through. Remember that Prague was a breeding-place for opposition to National Socialism." The head of the Gestapo in Prague is reported to have been more definite: "We have 10,000 arrests to carry out." Already, say Reuter's correspondent, everyone seems to have an acquaintance who has disappeared.

(12) Alexander Dubcek, Hope Dies Last (1992)

The new Czechoslovakia was a democratic republic with legislative powers vested in a two-chamber parliament. Tomas Masaryk, a democrat with socialist leanings, was the president and a great moral authority in the whole country. In the first parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia, in 1920, the Social Democratic Party, which still united all socialists, won over 25 percent of the general vote, becoming the strongest political force in the country. One might add, of course, that even before the war the socialists were by far the strongest parties in Bohemia and Moravia, getting as much as 40 percent of the vote in the elections of 1907 and 1911. Their strength in Slovakia before the war cannot be reliably estimated.

At least some policies of the new state were consequently enlightened and positive. The land reform of 1919, for example, was certainly a step toward a more equitable system of landholding. It decreed the maximum area of privately owned land to be 250 hectares (370 acres), of which 150 hectares could be cultivated. It is interesting that the Czechoslovak Land Law of 1991 returned to similar criteria. Another example of the new states social policies was the August 1921 law on enterprise councils, a step toward industrial democracy. And, for Slovakia, it was of great importance that a law of November 11, 1919, established the first national university in Bratislava, the Slovak capital city.

Not everything, however, was roses. The new constitution was based on a unitary idea of the state. It spoke of only one Czechoslovak nation. The Language Law also spoke of only one, Czechoslovak language. That was a Czech political exigency aimed at minimizing the significance of large non-Slavic minorities both in the Czech lands and in Slovakia, but it was also an awkward fiction, insensitive toward the Slovaks' striving for recognition of their national and cultural identity. In the long run, it did no good, as the events of 1938, 1939, and even 1992 were to show. Various Slovak factions immediately opposed the whole idea, including the unitary constitutional setup, and demanded autonomy instead.

(13) Alexander Dubcek, Hope Dies Last (1992)

My Russian friends learned about Khrushchev's secret speech about two weeks after it happened. A representative of the Central Committee came to the school and read excerpts at their Party meeting. No text circulated. It was a strictly confidential intra-Party announcement, and we foreign students were told nothing, then or later. I, however, learned very quickly about the speech and about many additional details which confirmed rumors that had been circulating for months. Still, it was the official truth that had the greatest impact.

To tell the truth, I was not quite ready to hear much of what they were saying, and I was shocked when they stated bluntly that Stalin had been a murderer. There were many more shocks waiting to be sure, but this one was too sudden and too momentous - the man had for so many years portrayed himself as the embodiment of everything I wanted to believe in. Now I could no longer separate Stalin from the bad side of things, could no longer assume he did not know. Now it seemed he was the very cause of all the woe.

A major source of these revelations were the prisoners who were then starting to return from the camps of the Gulag. Their stories quickly spread. It was more and more obvious that all of them were innocent, which meant that the other millions, those who could not return, those whose graves were scattered across the country, had also been innocent. This included the best-known victims of the great purges of the 1930S, a time I remembered so vividly It was a terrifying thing to learn.

Apparently most other foreign students, including those from Czechoslovakia, were insulated from this ferment until well after the Twentieth Congress. I have to admit that I hesitated to tell them what I was hearing from my Russian friends. Since my very young years, I have been inclined to think things through before making a move or a judgment, and this was no exception. It took me time to digest this flood of depressing news and to separate men from ideas and the good from the bad.

Among my Russian friends, Khrushchev was the hero of the day. The story circulated that he had dared to make the speech before the delegates against the will of the majority of the leadership, who had been involved in the mass repressions. In 1957 they conspired against Khrushchev and tried to overthrow him, but he was smarter and won the struggle against Molotov Kaganovich, and the rest.

(14) Alexander Dubcek, Hope Dies Last (1992)

At the end of July, the Supreme Court posthumously annulled two shameful death penalties of the post-1948 era. One of these victims was Dr Milada Horakova, a National Assembly deputy for the Socialist Party who had been falsely accused of high treason. She was the only woman ever executed for political reasons in Czechoslovakia. The other was Zavis Kalandra, a leftist writer and literary critic. Also, members of the national ice hockey team who were falsely accused of treason in 1950 and jailed for several years were all fully rehabilitated in June 1968. More rehabilitations followed along Party lines in July, and just before the Soviet invasion, on August 19, Josef Pavel, as minister of the interior, created the administrative framework for a general judicial rehabilitation of all innocent victims of Stalinist repression.

(15) Statement issued by Alexander Dubcek's government on 21st August, 1968.

Yesterday, August 20, 1968, around 11:00 p.m., the armies of the Soviet Union, of the Polish People's Republic, of the German Democratic Republic, the Hungarian Peoples Republic, and the Bulgarian Peoples Republic crossed the borders of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. It happened without the knowledge of the President of the Republic, of the Chairman of the National Assembly, of the Prime Minister and of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of CPCz, and of all these organs.

The Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPCz was meeting in these hours and was discussing the preparations for the Fourteenth Party Congress. The Presidium appeals to all citizens of our Republic to keep calm and not to resist the armed forces moving in. Therefore neither our army, security forces or the People's Militias have been ordered to defend the country.

The Presidium believes that this act contradicts not only all principles of relations between socialist countries but also the basic norms of international law.

All leading officials of the state, of the CPCz and of the National Front remain in their functions, to which they were elected as representatives of the people and of the members of their organizations, according to the laws and other statutes valid in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Constitutional officials convene for immediate session the National Assembly and the government of the Republic, and the Presidium of the CPCz convenes a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the CPCz to deal with the situation.