MATERIALS FOR A MEETING OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL SECRETARIAT OF THE CPCZ CC, WITH ATTACHED REPORT ON PARTY ACTIVITIES IN PLZEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE EVENTS OF 1 JUNE 1953CITATION SHARE DOWNLOAD
get citationA draft of a resolution about the June 1st, 1953 demonstrations in Plzen. It identifies the mistakes of the Party organizations in Plzen and plans to resolve the demonstrations directly."Materials for a Meeting of the Organizational Secretariat of the CPCz CC, with Attached Report on Party Activities in Plzen in connection with the events of 1 June 1953," July 31, 1953, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of the CPCz Central Committee (AÚV KSC), f. 02/3, suzek 43, ar. i. 231, ll. 28-54. Obtained and translated by Oldrich Tuma. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111316
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Materials for a Meeting of the Organizational Secretariat of On Monday, 1 June 1953, a strike by some of the employees of the Lenin Works in Plzen occurred, which gradually grew into an anti-State demonstration and disturbances. A reactionary rabble, with the support of the remnants of the Plzen bourgeoisie and the vacillating elements in the Lenin Works, committed the well-known acts of provocation and hooliganism. The demonstrations and disturbances were not liquidated until late in the day, following the intervention of units of the Peoples' Militia from Prague factories and army units. The worst situation is at the Higher Social and Health School. A number of the pupils greeted the demonstrating provocateurs with enthusiasm. Pupil S_____, the daughter of a locksmith in the Lenin Works stated she was not sorry for the Peoples' Militia member beaten by the mob. Among the pupils, there are some, whose parents had been arrested and convicted of political offenses. The reasons the participants in the strike and the demonstration use most frequently to justify their actions include claims they did not know what would happen with their wages, that they lost their savings, or that they weren't sure how the advances would be paid out. The measures carried out by the commission do not concern the trade union. The trade union organization is not in charge of the operation; it does not use it to strengthen its authority. 2) The Factory Party Cells which failed to hold brief meetings to attend to the appropriate battle assignments, but instead kept meeting until eight or nine o'clock, thereby isolating themselves from the rest of the employees, were guilty of a reckless lack of vigilance, as in their absence the Reaction was able to develop its activities freely. In those meetings, Communists spent a long time mulling over details of the currency reforms and questions of Party policy, failing to realize that, in a battle, they had to fight, and that any discussion concerning the details must await the successful achievement of the battle objectives. The behavior of those comrades is rooted in their failure to comprehend the principles of democratic centralism and Party discipline. [This failure] seriously undermined the ability of Party organizations to take action. Some even voiced the opinion that the Central Committee should have informed all Party members about the impending currency reform ahead of time. This attitude challenges the role of the Central Committee as the leading organ of the Party. It would have given the Reaction a chance to find out about the action of the Central Committee well before it could be launched. The City Party Committee has failed to lead the local organization in the city properly. This has been true especially in the case of the large Lenin Works organization. The Regional Party Committee has failed to ensure that the City Party Committee should fulfill its political role correctly.
the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.
Ad: Report and proposal of the Commission to investigate the events of 1 June, in Plzen.
We submit the report of the Special Commission which investigated the events in Plzen of 1 June, as well as a preliminary draft of the resolution.
We suggest the Plzen matter should be dealt with as a separate item by the Organizational Secretariat, and that three members of the bureau of the Regional Committee and two members of the bureau of the City Committee of the CPCz should be invited to take part in the proceedings.
After the Plzen matter has been dealt with, the resolution may possibly be amended.
a) Draft resolution and the report of the Special Commission on the Events in Plzen, to be dealt with by the Political Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPCz.
b) To carry out an internal Party campaign within the Plzen district to deal with the resolution on the events of 1 June.
c) That the resolutions on the events of 1 June be dealt with by all District Party Committees within the Plzen Region.
d) That the resolution on the events in Plzen should be sent to all Regional (Party) Committees to deal with and for their information.
To be carried out by: Comrade Köhler
Submitted by: Comrade Köhler
31 July 1953
Number of pages: 28
Report of the Commission set up by the Central Committee of the CPCz to survey
Party activities in Plzen in connection with the events of 1 June 1953.
The Commission charged with examining the situation in Plzen focused its attention on the reasons which enabled reactionary elements to carry out their activities. It ascertained how the Party organs, mass organizations and the National Committees acted in the course of the monetary reform in the region, in the city [of Plzen] and in the Lenin Works, and it followed what concrete conclusions were drawn from the events.
An analysis of the overall political situation, as well as of the work of the Party organs and organizations, leads to the conclusion that the events of 1 June 1953 in Plzen were, essentially, the result of the following main causes:
1) The bewilderment and helplessness of the Regional and City Party Committees in Plzen, reflected in their opportunistic defeatism in the face of the reaction.
2) The total failure of leadership, failure to coordinate the actions against the rioters, the flight of the bureau of the City Party Committee, as well as of some of the leading cadres of the Regional Party Committee, State Secret Police and Peoples' Militia from their duties and responsibilities.
3) The political carelessness and feelings of complacency, brought on by some economic successes achieved by the Lenin Works; tendencies to overestimate such achievements, and, at the same time, to underestimate the activities of class enemies; as well as ignorance of the political situation in the factories.
4) A lack of trust in the Party membership, and in the strength of the Party organization, on the part of some of the leading cadres.
5) Shortcomings in the ideological, mass political and organizational work in the Plzen area.
What did the Regional Party Committee in Plzen do to safeguard
the currency reform, and how did it act on 1 June 1953?
In the session of the Regional Party Committee on 30 May 1953, Comrade Hlína presented the battle task given to the Regional Organization by the Central Committee of the CPCz correctly and vigorously. The guidelines for its implementation were outlined and approved. Nonetheless, the events which took place on 1 June represent the total opposite of a correct implementation of those guidelines.
The positive acceptance of the measures by the meetings of the village organizations, further embellished in the reports of the District Committees, lulled the Regional Committee, whose leading cadres assumed that the measures would meet with approval in the factories as well.
Comrade H_____ and other leading Party officials claimed they could not even dream of the possibility of any provocations, least of all in the Lenin Works. The Regional Party Committee failed to draw any conclusions from the fact that the City Party Conference in Plzen had taken place in the absence of 168 chairmen of the Local Party Organizations, including 34 from the Lenin Works.
The Sunday meetings of the Street (Party) Organizations, which should have been attended by members of the Factory Organizations living in the area, were minimally attended. In a number of areas only about 2-5 per cent of the members showed up. The City Party Committee failed to mobilize the membership to take part in those meetings. It assigned the task to the committees of the Street Organizations which include, predominantly, comrades who are housewives, and the latter failed to safeguard the fulfillment of the task.
Many Party members who work in factories, especially in the Lenin Works, refused to take part in the meetings, even though they had been invited, using a variety of excuses. The Regional Party Committee failed to take these signals into account. The Regional Party Committee also failed to notice a breach of state discipline in the factories where the employees did not receive the payment of their advances on time, of the fact that the exchange of money in the Lenin Works was not supposed to start until 12:00 noon, and that Comrade Br[abec] delivered an unprepared speech over the [Lenin Works] public address system. He had consulted the chairman of the Lenin Works Party Committee about the speech, but its contents had not been approved by anyone. The speech interfered with Party meetings, and it gave rise to discussions and the forming of clusters in the workplace. It only dealt with secondary issues, and it failed to explain the political significance of the currency reform, or to address the issue of wages, or of the advances for May, or other issues which were not clear to the employees.
On Sunday,  May, on the initiative of the head secretary of the Regional Party Committee, Comrade H[lina], a command staff was established, consisting of the commander of the Regional Administration of the State Secret Police (KS STB), Comrade Bá_____, the commander of Public Security (VB), Comrade Vintr, and the commander of the Peoples' Militia, Comrade D_____. The council was to guard the centers where the money would be changed, and to direct, if need be, the deployment of army and police units, as well as the Peoples' Militia. Overall command was entrusted to Comrade Bá_____. This command staff failed to live up to Comrade Hlína's expectations. On 1 June, as the provocations occurred, only Comrade V_____ was at his post, and he had only 49 older policemen, including a number of women, at his disposal. The commander, Comrade B_____, was driving around town since morning; he had gone to the Lenin Works, then to the square, where the demonstrators arrested him in the building of the City National Council. Comrade D_____, the commander of the Peoples' Militia, toured the centers where money was being exchanged since morning, and did not return to the Regional Party Committee until about ten a.m., but even then he did not make any serious attempt to concentrate the Peoples' Militia forces at his disposal, so that they might be deployed against the rioters. The deputy commander of the Regional Administration of the State Secret Police forbade any action against the demonstrators unless one of the centers of money exchange, the security for which he was responsible, was attacked. Comrade V_____, the Police Commander, falsely informed Comrade Hlína to the effect that the square was being cleared. He was ignorant of the true state of affairs, and did not know that, in the square, policemen, headed by the District Commander, Comrade H_____, stood idly by, as party officials, members of the People's Militia and Young Pioneers were being attacked and beaten.
Comrade H_____ failed to draw the proper conclusions, and continued to view the demonstrating anti-State elements simply as workers, and kept sending Regional and City Party Committee cadres, and other active Communists who put themselves at the disposal of the Regional Party Committee (e.g., students of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering), to the square to debate with the demonstrators.
After 9:00 a.m., at a point when the crowds in the square consisted of about 500-700 people, out of whom about 200 were active provocateurs, about 300 propagandists were sent there, either singly, or in teams of two--who often did not know each other--to try and talk the demonstrators into abandoning their action. These futile attempts were continued, even as the crowd was being reinforced by members of Plzen bourgeoisie, and turned into a major force.
Especially serious was the deployment, or, rather, misemployment of unarmed members of the Peoples' Militia to reason with the rioters.
The defenseless members of the Peoples' Militia were exposed to the crudest forms of abuse, such as being spat upon and beaten. The incompetence, and the lack of resolution, shown by those in charge of the Party organs in Plzen in their actions against the demonstrators made many Peoples' Militia members lose their trust in the Regional and City Party Committees.
The leadership of the Regional Party Committee failed to unite in the decisive moments. The entire action was directed by Comrade H_____, but he failed to assess the situation properly. He was indecisive and issued confusing directives, and he lost control over the situation altogether.
Even though Comrade _____ did issue an order at 11:00 a.m., mobilizing all Party members in the city, it specified, once again, that groups should go to the square to talk to the demonstrators. This order was not implemented and it had no practical results. Some City Party Committee cadres phoned a number of factories and established contact with them, but the directors and the local Party officials, as well as the representatives of the City and Regional Party Committee who were there at the time, refused to send in their communists, fearing they would otherwise be unable to keep their own factories “quiet.” The ineffective manner in which the mobilization was carried out, and the view--espoused by some of the leading cadres, especially by Comrade K_____, that communists could not be trusted, and that it was better not to call them up since they might join the demonstrators--allowed the demonstrators to riot with impunity.
The Regional Party Committee was unaware of the real situation in the factories. It did not know that in a majority of the factories the measures had been accepted with approval. The employees of the gasworks, for example, chased out the provocateurs from ET Doudlevce without mercy and awaited Party orders, ready to deal resolutely with the reactionary scum. And even in some sections of the Lenin Works, such as in the foundry, the provocateurs were chased out, and the construction workers of the Lenin Works held themselves in readiness, and asked to be deployed against the demonstrators.
Even though the Regional Party Committee was told that the demonstrators, who had dispersed to some extent during the noon hour, were planning another demonstration in the afternoon (attended, according to some comrades, by 12,000 people), it failed to take measures to stop it, and allowed the gradual assembling of a huge number of people in the square. The leading comrades resigned themselves to think the Plzen Party Organization with its 28,000 members could not be trusted, and came to regard the arrival of the People's Militia and other units from Prague as the only solution.
What did the City Party Committee do on 1 June?
The City Committee had totally underestimated the significance of the currency measures, and it failed to even consider the possibility that the measures could be used by the class enemy. All participants at a special meeting of the leadership of the City Party Committee which took place on 23 June agreed on this assessment. The leadership of the City Party Committee did not meet at all in the course of 1 June. The head secretary of the City Party Committee, Comrade _____, attended to a variety of minor tasks. He went to the Lenin Works, where he spoke over the factory public address system, and he made inquiries about the situation in the square, but he failed to direct anything. Members of the leadership of the City Party Committee, who had been sent to deliver reports to Party meetings in the various factories, stayed there even after these meetings had concluded, because they were concerned that disturbances could occur. The mayor, Comrade M_____, played a peculiar role. On Comrade _____'s instructions, he wanted to address the demonstrators from his car in front of the City Hall. Since the demonstrators shouted him down, he entered the building in order to speak using the city public address system. Even though he realized he was dealing with a reactionary provocation, he agreed to let the leaders of the demonstration enter City Hall and allowed them to take over the public address system. They used it to shout: “We Want Free Elections!,” “Long live Free Europe!,” “Long live Eisenhower!,” “Death to Communists!,” and the like. Comrade M_____ has tried to justify his actions by claiming that he could not close the doors of the City Hall to the demonstrators, or mobilize the employees (there were at least 100 of them, and they included armed members of the Civil Defense Command) because we always speak of how capitalists fired into workers and that he was unable to allow anything of that sort to happen.
The City Party Committee, the leading Party organ in Plzen, failed to do its duty, and it exhibited the worst kind of opportunism and defeatism. Even after four weeks, none of its leading members realize the implications of these events. They refuse to accept any blame for the poor performance of the City Party Committee. These officials take umbrage at the Regional Party Committee demands for a more detailed and deeper analysis of the events. They are offended and threaten to resign their posts (Comrade N_____); they blame the Central Committee of the Party for having mobilized the Party too late, and for having called Party meetings, instead of meetings of all employees (Comrade K_____); etc.
The party organization and the events of 1 June in the Lenin Works.
Both the City as well as the Factory Party Committee failed to pay attention to signals which emerged in the factory-wide consultation of the chairmen and instructors of the Party cells on Sunday [31 May]. In the course of the discussion, a whole range of Social Democratic views was expressed. A number of contributors expressed a lack of confidence in the higher Party organs. The situation failed to mobilize the Factory Party Committee cadres to a higher state of readiness for the upcoming action. The Party meetings started at a time when lively discussions were already in full swing on the shop floor, as groups of workers discussed Comrade Brabec's speech.
The committee and membership meetings were too long, and they failed to mobilize Communists to struggle for the implementation of the decisions. Instead, a lot of time was spent on details which had been fully clarified in the daily newspapers and on the radio. So, for example, in the Machine Building Works No.3 [v oddelení strojírny 3] (TSH) the meeting of the Party members and foremen lasted until 8:00 a.m. In the meantime, a large number of the remaining employees, influenced by reactionary elements, made plans to leave the workplace. The supervisor, Comrade J_____, informed the chairman of the Party organization, and a Regional Party Committee official, Comrade C_____, but they decided not to interrupt the meeting, and failed to use the available communists to prevent the others from leaving the workplace. Even after the meetings had ended, the communists failed to take measures to make the employees leave the factory yard and go back to their shops.
Organizers of the demonstration used a variety of pretexts (for example, that the director, Comrade B_____, would give a speech by the main factory gate, that everyone is supposed to go to the square because a (cabinet) minister would speak there) to lure a number of politically immature workers, who then left their places of work, and, in some cases, went out in the streets.
A situation similar to that in the Machine Building Works No. 3 arose in the Locomotive Works, and in the Machine Building Works No. 1. In the Locomotive Works, communists debated details of the adopted measures for a long time behind closed doors. Numerous non-Party employees demanded explanations of some issues; they banged on the doors and shouted that at least some of the (Party) officials should meet with them. The communists would not be disturbed, and they continued in fruitless discussions and haggling over details.
It was similar at ET Doudlevce, where a considerable segment of the employees left their workplaces. They were led by the organizers of the 1951 strike, whose seditious activities in the factory were known, but they were given a free rein.
A large proportion of communists in the Lenin Works remained opportunistically passive, i.e., they failed to back the measures adopted by the Party and government with sufficient vigor, they failed to give support to Party officials and to active and honest Party members who defended the measures and tried to forestall the provocations. Even though a majority of communists eventually resumed normal work activities, and did not take part in the demonstrations, they nonetheless exhibited a passive attitude, in that they stood idly by as the Reaction ran rampant.
The struggle for Gate No.4, which took place during the noon hour, represents the most disgraceful aspect of these events for the entire collective of the Lenin Works and all 11,000 Party cells. Several hundred demonstrators, who had taken part in the rioting in the city, were returning to the factory (to pick up their things, and go off the shift as if they had worked, in order to allay suspicions that they had taken part in the demonstration). The comrades inside the factory saw through their design, and defended the entrances, especially Gate No.4, where the pressure was greatest. Several courageous comrades, headed by the Chief Engineer, Comrade K_____, defended the factory against several hundred enraged provocateurs, armed with cobblestones, iron rods and even firearms, who seriously injured a number of the defenders. Communists inside the factory, who knew exactly what was at stake, watched this unequal struggle indifferently, as if it were a theater performance. Following a long mobilization carried out by the comrades of the Factory Party Committee, about 150 comrades assembled at the gate. Even the detachment of the Peoples' Militia, sent to defend the gate, reached the gate with only about half of its members, as some comrades had made themselves scarce along the way.
The activities of the trade unions in connection with the implementation
of the currency reform and the events of 1 June.
Following the expanded session of the Regional Party Committee, the individual associations of the trade unions did not prepare any significant measures to safeguard the currency reform. They underestimated its significance, and assumed that it would proceed quietly. In the plant, a general conference of the factory council, in which 500 elected delegates participated, took place on 31 May. It was addressed by a member of the bureau of the Regional Party Committee, Comrade R_____. He spoke, among other things, about the political significance of the currency reform, but neither he, nor any of the other leading comrades, outlined to the delegates any concrete measures needed to safeguard it. Nothing was said about what would need to be done in the workplaces on Monday. Comrade N_____, a member of the leadership of the City Party Committee (BMV), who was supposed to address this issue, did not say anything. Thus, a chance to use the mighty assembly of 500 of the best workers of the entire Lenin Works was wasted, and their militant drive to realize the implementation of the measures was not safeguarded.
On Monday, 1 June, the trade union organization remained inactive, and even the officials of the workshop councils failed to call together their section trustees, on their own initiative, to assign specific tasks to them. The worst kind of passivity was exhibited by the organization in ET Doudlevce, which, apart from some members of the Factory Council, was completely absorbed by the dissatisfied employees.
The situation in the Czechoslovak Youth Association group in the Lenin Works.
Many young people, including members of the CSM took part in the provocations and the strike in the Lenin Works. The present condition of the youth organization in the plant is very serious. Its leaders do not even know how many members the organization has in the plant. The group has a lack of cadres. Work with the cadres is not being given sufficient attention. Among the huge masses of young people in the Lenin Works, neither the able workers, nor the prospective leaders of the youth association are being identified. A number of the members of the Factory Committee of the CSM elected at this year's conference became inactive soon after the election. Despite the presence of several communists on the committee, the quality of its work has deteriorated significantly in recent times.
The attitude of the youth on 1 June 1953 represents the culmination of these long-term defects.
According to a decision made by the District Committee of the Czechoslovak Youth Association, youth meetings were supposed to take place on Monday. They did not.
The chairman of the Factory Committee of the CSM, Comrade K_____, did call a meeting of the Factory Committee, but he himself did not take part in it. He left the factory and spent the entire period in question at home.
The secretary of the CSM was helping the Factory Party Committee in the course of the events. He acted as liaison.
The use of the trade unions and of the Youth Association reflects a profound lack of understanding of the leading role of the Party, and of the utilization of the transmission levers the Party has in the mass organizations. Both in routine work as well as during special actions, tasks are assigned, primarily, to the cadres of the mass organizations who are being used to ensure the operative implementation of various small tasks. They are not, however, used to mobilize the broad membership mass of these organizations.
Other mass organizations did not develop any activity during the critical period, and they were not being mobilized to any activity by the Party.
The activity of the Regional National Committee on 1 June 1953.
The Party organization in the Regional National Committee represents a typical example of opportunistic passivity in a Party organization.
On 1 June 1953, 120 employees of the Regional National Council took part in stock-taking in stores, and changing money in centers. Other employees were in their usual workplaces. Communists, who number 300 in the Regional National Committee, were meeting until 10 o'clock. They asked to be persuaded of the correctness of the currency reform, and then they were putting together a resolution. To make sure they would not be disturbed, they placed a Peoples' Militia guard at the entrance into the building--to keep it under strict control. The Committee clerks were on their posts--in their offices. Communists in the Regional National Committee did not react to the morning events in Plzen in any way.
According to a number of the cadres, had the Communists of the Regional and City National Committees gone en masse to help the Regional and City Party Committee officials, the whole demonstration could have been dispersed just as it was getting started. But no one organized that, and the communists of the Regional National Council failed to show any initiative.
The performance of the City Hall (JNV) is characterized by the actions of Comrade Mainzer.
* * *
The majority of the leading officials in Plzen, officials of the Party cells, as well as the Party rank and file, are convinced that the demonstration could have been dispersed and liquidated in time. The proper time for it would have been between nine and ten a.m., at which point all of the Plzen factories, including the Lenin Works, were operating normally, and the demonstrators in the square numbered about a thousand. Instead of dispatching a large group of communists, possibly together with Peoples' Militia, the leadership of the Regional and City Party Councils displayed total indecision, and allowed the Reaction to rage all over the city for several hours, and to mobilize an even greater demonstration in the afternoon.
Comrades confirm that the organized arrival of the Prague People's Militia units made a great impression. The mere word of the arrival of a number of cars with Peoples' Militia on the outskirts of Plzen was like a cold shower for the assembled demonstrators. They began to leave the square - and fast.
The incompetence shown by the leadership of the Regional Party Committee and the City Party Committee during the morning hours was reflected also in the mobilization for the afternoon counter-demonstration. It was not until 5:00 p.m. that a group of about 800 communists assembled next to the exhibition grounds. In the streets of the city they were gradually joined by a little more than 3,000 people. The plenum of the Regional Party Committee qualified this fact as an expression of the passivity of the Party organizations in Pilzn, as well as of the incapacity of the Party leadership, who were unable to mobilize a larger demonstration than the anti-state demonstration organized by a handful of provocateurs. The counter-demonstration did not take place until after the Peoples' Militia and the army had cleared the square and reestablished order.
The indecisive conduct of the security organs during the morning hours has been the subject of sharp criticism among the workers, and especially in the Party cells. In the evaluations of the events, there was a general tendency to blame the start of the demonstrations on the security organs, as they failed to intervene vigorously at the very beginning.
The hopeless conduct of the security organs is illustrated by the following incidents:
After the morning demonstration, a secret police (STB) official forbade the taking down of a picture of Benes from the City Hall--to avoid “antagonizing” the demonstrators unnecessarily.
Other secret policemen twice brought provocateurs, caught trying to flee the square, to Comrade H_____, and tried to hand them over to him.
In the confusion which reigned at the regional level, the comrades forgot to inform the District Party Committee about the events in Plzen and have them adopt countermeasures. On Tuesday, 2 June, the districts were not mobilized, and measures to ensure normal operation of factories had not been adopted. Under the influence of alarmist and provocative news, spread throughout the district by Lenin Works employees, there were strikes, various provocations and unlawful assemblies in a number of districts, factories and localities of the Plzen region.
The deeper causes of the events in Plzen are rooted in the bad work of the Regional Party Committee, which prefers one-sided solutions of economic matters and fails to integrate them with Party-organizational and Party-political work.
In the 14 months between 1 April 1952, and the end of May 1953, the bureau of the Regional Party Committee did not deal with the questions of Party work in the Lenin Works once.
The bureau of the Regional Party Committee only dealt with the situation in these factories on the initiative of the Lenin Works management. Matters, submitted by the management of the Lenin Works to the bureau of the Regional Party Committee for their consideration, included economic issues, problems connected with cooperation with other enterprises, problems with government ministries, etc.
Almost in every one of its sessions, the bureau of the Regional Party Committee dealt with, at great length, matters within the competence of factory management, organs of state administration and the like. In contrast, an important aspect of Party work, such as improving the social composition of the Party in Plzen, was not dealt with even once during the entire period.
The fact had been noted by the Regional Party Committee as early as 30 October 1952, as it dealt with the document on the methods of work employed by the regional Party organization in Hradec Králové. The adopted decision stated that the decision of the Central Committee on Hradec Králové should be considered by all departments of the Regional Party Committee and the District Party Committee. The Regional Party Committee did not deal with this matter any further. On 24 March, and on 3 May 1952, the work of the leadership of the Regional Party Committee and of the Regional Party Committee itself was evaluated. In both cases, the comrades admitted self-critically that the Regional Party Committee devoted itself exclusively to economic matters and failed to approach problems from the perspective of Party work. Even though these shortcomings and their causes had been thoroughly analyzed and revealed, and ways of remedying them pointed out, the situation has shown no improvement.
The City Party Committee in Plzen has worked very much like the Regional Party Committee. It did not try to gain insight into the problems of Party work in the Lenin Works. It failed to assume any responsibility for the activities of the Party organization in the factory, it seemed to be satisfied with some of the economic successes achieved by the factory, and with the fact that the overall plan was being fulfilled. The contact with the Lenin Works was gradually monopolized by the former secretary of the City Party Committee, Comrade M_____, who was interested in economic matters to the exclusion of everything else, and who primarily dealt with the factory management.
Following the abolition of the Lenin Works Party district, the responsibility for Party work there was transferred to the City Party Committee, which, however, has so far failed to realize this responsibility, and has devoted little attention to the Lenin Works. Following the transfer of Comrade M_____ to an economic position, the City Party Committee lost contact with the factory.
Thus, the largest Party organization of the Plzen region lacked the firm guidance of a higher Party organ. This resulted in a deterioration of Party work, a decrease in the organization's activities, an intensification of the activities of class enemies, and a proliferation of various opportunistic and reactionary views.
The Party organizations in the factory are hardly concerned with internal Party issues, mass political work and the activities of communists in the trade unions or in the Youth Association. Even though some meetings are prepared with a correct agenda, in discussions, as a rule, economic problems, criticism of the subcontracting factories and of ministries and their administrations etc., predominate.
Mass political work
The most significant defect of mass political work is the weak personal agitation. Even though the City Party Organization has about 1,300 agitators on its list, only about 350 attended a seminar, and other than the May Day campaign, they were not utilized at all.
The City Party Committee failed to implement the decision of the Political Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPCz with regard to the point which assigns the tasks needed to develop mass political work. Following the abolition of local organizations in the city, propaganda work among the inhabitants almost came to an end. The events of 1 June are proof that our agitation has been formalistic and passive. On 1 June, agitators and officials in charge of propaganda were unable to even give rough summaries of newspaper accounts, to point out the great economic and political significance of the currency reform, or to show people how much they would be paid, and what they would be able to buy. Apart from a small segment which fought for the implementation of the Party and government decision with all their hearts, unselfishly and with great vigor, communists failed to address the workers boldly and openly.
The situation in schools
The situation in the schools in Plzen has been quite unsatisfactory. The teaching staff, in particular, will have to be thoroughly screened. Already on 1 June, professor K_____, an instructor of the courses preparing workers for university studies, was arrested and charged with anti-state activities. At Secondary School No.4, a teacher, P_____, denounced four Young Pioneers, who had correctly defended the decision of the Party and government, as spies and informers. A case, in the fourth grade of a secondary school, where pictures of Comrade Gottwald were being torn out of books, is under investigation. So far, one pupil, H_____, who tore out those photographs from a number of his classmates books, has been identified. In this connection, the activities of the teacher D_____ are being investigated.
Reactionary elements were found also among the Young Pioneers. An investigation revealed that the chairperson of the Young Pioneer Organization of class 4B of a secondary school had behaved in a most reactionary manner. Other members of the organization's council had acted in a similar manner. They claimed our government had fled the country, that it is cowardly, that Comrade Zapotocký was not elected by the people, and that the police (SNB) are brutal.
The situation in the Faculty of Medicine is also bad. Even before 1 June 1953, the Personnel Department had proposed the expulsion of 23 students. The reasons for the expulsions: Western orientation, ridiculing the friendship with the USSR, wrecking activities in the Czechoslovak Youth Association, anti-state activities of the parents. A proposal to expel additional 18 students is being prepared. […]
Conclusions drawn from the events of 1 June 1953, in the Lenin Works
Following the events of 1 June 1953, in Plzen, in which 1,400 people from the Lenin Works had taken part, commissions were set up in the individual departments with the task of identifying the individual participants in the demonstration and the strike, as well as the reasons why these had taken part in the events.
However, the very composition of these commissions fails to guarantee that they will accomplish that task.
They are, essentially, representative organs, consisting of the chairman of the shop council, the chairman of the Party cell, a representative of the department, or, if relevant, a member of the Youth Association committee, and a representative of the factory Cadre Department. Members of the commission were not selected according to how they had proven themselves in the course of the events and how they had defended the policy of the Party and government.
The activities of those commissions are not firmly controlled by anyone, and, as a result, serious shortcomings are evident in their work. Individual cases are investigated superficially. The work and moral profiles, or the class origins of the individual participants etc., are not being exposed.
The Party organizations in the factory were unable to create an atmosphere in which honest workers would actively expose the individual provocateurs and saboteurs. There are feelings of false solidarity among the workers. Some facts are being concealed, many people claim to know nothing and remember nothing.
The inadequate control of the commissions is reflected in their uneven approach which, in some cases, resulted in serious mistakes. Such cases will have to be reopened.
Others listed curiosity as their main motive, while four cited hunger as their reason.
The commissions impose penalties mechanically, without examining the cases more deeply. In most cases, the punishment involves the loss of a portion of one's vacation, or the requirement of a certain number of hours of volunteer work. Some commissions have even allowed the demonstrators themselves to determine the extent of their own punishment, i.e., how many days of their vacation time they would give up. In most cases, no distinction is being made between demonstrators and those who had been misguided. For example, in the Machine Building Works No.1, which was one of the focal points of the demonstration, the commission proposed that four employees be expelled from the trade union and that the vacation time of all the other participants be cut by between one and ten days.
Individual cases the commission dealt with:
The workers Frantisek S_____, the father of two, and Václav P_____, the father of six, took part in the demonstration because they had nothing to eat at home. The worker P_____ did not go to work because he was too weak from hunger. Two reactionary draftsmen of the Construction Division, S_____ and P_____, were constantly spreading Americanism in their department, and were fawning on Western technology. They kept bringing American magazines, and related to their co-workers the details of programs broadcast by Radio Free Europe. P_____ is a right-wing Social Democrat who regards Sweden, and its transition to socialism, as his ideal of socialism. S_____, an engineer, hates the people's democratic regime. He was one of the instigators of the action. Another engineer, S_____, the son of a former District Administrator enticed his co-workers into the strike, but returned to his workplace himself.
Even though it is well known that the focal points of the provocations were the TS Hall and ET Doudlevce, where the concentration of reactionary elements is the greatest, the Party organs in Plzen have failed to make sure that the true faces of the organizers of the demonstrations and disturbances would be exposed to the broad masses of the working people.
As far as the commissions are concerned, it must be said that they have not been put together correctly, and that they haven't been given a proper sanction by anyone. Their work has not been either evaluated or supervised by anyone. Most commissions have been very moderate in their approach. There is a tendency to reduce the punishments and apologize for the participation in the demonstrations.
The proposed penalties have not yet been approved by the trade union membership.
The activities of the commission have not been surveyed, and neither the Lenin Works Party Council, nor any other Party or trade union organ has yet evaluated those activities.
The proposals of the individual commissions indicate that radically different punishments are being imposed for identical infractions.
The emergence of conciliatory and overly moderate moods is tied to the plenary Party meetings which took place on 4 June. At those meetings, resolutions had been adopted approving the decisions of the Party and government, demanding punishment for the culprits, and promising loyalty to the Party and government. Since then, however, nothing more has happened, the unions have not come up with proposals how individual cases should be solved.
The nature of the punishment offers no guarantee that it would assist in the moral education of the individual delinquents, and be a lesson to the other workers.
Resolution concerning the events of 1 June 1953 in Plzen
In connection with the implementation of the currency reform, a significant incident, organized by the Reaction, occurred in the City of Plzen on 1 June, of this year. The Reaction, which realized very well, indeed, to a far greater extent than some members of the Plzen Party organization, that the currency reform represented yet another heavy blow against the capitalist elements, and, at the same time, a major step in the construction of socialism in our country, used the unpreparedness of our Party in Plzen to organize demonstrations, [and] stage provocations and acts of violence.
At that, the reactionary incident could have been avoided, had the higher Party organs, the Regional and City Committees in Plzen, been sufficiently prepared, both politically and with regard to their organization, and had all Party organizations and the Party members in Plzen fulfilled their Party obligations. The Reaction was only able to resort to demonstrations and rioting because the Regional and City Party Committees had been confused, behaved in a defeatist manner in the face of the Reaction, and because some of the Party organizations displayed strongly opportunistic passivity.
The Regional Party Committee itself, including the head secretary Comrade Hlína, had failed to pay sufficient heed to the correct instructions given to them at the expanded session of the Regional Party Committee, according to which they were to be in a state of full battle readiness in order to assure the implementation of the decision of the Party and government, and, since the Reaction is bound to be heavily affected by the currency reform, to break its hands off at the first inkling of an attempt to interfere with the measures adopted by the Party and government.
The comrades in Plzen acted in a manner which was exactly opposite to those instructions.
1) The Regional and City Party Committees failed to draw any conclusions from the fact that a City Party Conference had taken place in the absence of 168 chairmen of Party cells, out of whom 34 were from the Lenin Works. A conference of 500 of the best union officials of the Lenin Works was not utilized to ensure the implementation of the decision of the Party and government. The City Party Committee was itself insufficiently mobilized, it failed to ensure the proper instruction of the reporters to the Monday morning membership meetings of the organizations which had not been represented at the Party Conference, and, in the course of the events, it failed completely, together with the Regional Party Committee. This lack of preparedness and carelessness derived from an entirely reckless underestimation of reactionary activities in Plzen factories. Statements, made by some of the leading comrades, according to which, even in their wildest dreams, they could not conceive of the possibility of reactionary provocations in the Lenin Works, are a testimony to that.
The situation in the Lenin Works was exacerbated even further as a result of the fact that, apart from having breached state discipline in the matter of the payment of the wage advances, the director, Comrade Brabec, acted contrary to the decision concerning the measures to be adopted by the Party to ensure the successful implementation of the action. He did so by giving an unprepared speech over the factory public address system at 6:00 a.m., i.e., before the Party organizations could prepare for their political and propagandistic activities in their membership meetings. This politically ill-prepared and ill-timed action of the director disoriented, for the most part, not just the non-Party employees, but a portion of the Party members as well.
3) The bewilderment and defeatism of the Regional and City Party Committees in the face of the Reaction were manifested in their inability to put an end to their savagery by means of a decisive intervention of the organs of state power, the forces of the Party and of the revolutionary working class--if not at the very outset, then at least at a time which was suitable for it (between 9.00-10.00 a.m.). The more bewildered was the Party leadership, the more brazen did the Reaction become in misusing the people.
The leading comrades who directed the Party activities in implementing the currency reform failed to distinguish in time the class enemy from the mass of the people, and, for a long time, incorrectly regarded the reactionary moves as expressions of popular discontent. Their attitude thus disoriented not just the organs of state and public security, but also the Party's Peoples' Militia, the Party organizations and the revolutionary working class. The Party leadership allowed our forces to dissipate, it sent small groups of unarmed militiamen, Party officials and other Party members to agitate among the rioters instead of concentrating our forces and deploying them to crush and detain the provocateurs and hooligans. The failure to concentrate more compact forces in the struggle against the hooligans in time also derived from the lack of confidence in our strength and in our Party membership. Our Party organization in Plzen has considerable shortcomings, and some organizations behaved disgracefully on 1 June--such as the one in the Regional National Committee, where the comrades simply kept working, instead of coming to the aid of the City Hall which was being attacked by the storm troops of the Reaction, or in the Lenin Works, where some communists stood idly by as courageous comrades defended Gate Number Four against reactionary onslaughts. Nonetheless, it must be said that the overall Party organization in Plzen would have been able to nip the reactionary activities in the bud--had it been properly led. The major shortcomings of the local organizations must not be overlooked, but, by the same token, the mistakes of the Regional and City Party Committees must not be excused either.
4) The underlying causes of the failure of the Party in Plzen on 1 June are rooted in the general condition of the leading organs and organizations in Plzen. The Party organs and organizations are largely concerned with economic problems and they fail to pay due attention to mass political, organizational and internal Party activities. They fail to address the broad masses of the working people in order to explain and clarify the burning political issues of the day. The higher Party organs fail to clarify to the local Party organizations such basic Party concepts as democratic centralism, Party discipline, the correct implementation of the leading role of the Party etc., in order to forge the membership into a battle formation of like-minded people. The Statutes of our Party require that these concepts should be enforced systematically and effectively. The Party educational activities are largely oriented toward bookish methods, and are consequently of little use when it comes to pushing fundamental ideological problems through to the membership at large. Criticism and self-criticism are not used in uncovering and overcoming mistakes, weaknesses and ambiguities in Party life and activities.
The Lenin Works Factory Party Committee directs the local Party organizations in a largely administrative manner, rather than inspiring them to vigorous political activity. It even fails to ensure the fulfillment of the basic obligations--such as the holding of regular monthly meetings by all local organizations and members' participation in them--which are required by the Party Statutes.
In order to overcome and remedy the mistakes and failures of the Party organs and organization in Plzen, it is necessary:
1) To conduct a campaign of thorough criticism and self-criticism in connection with the failure of the Party in the course of the events of 1 June in Plzen. This criticism and self-criticism must deal with all activities of Party organs and organizations. The campaign must be carried out--in the spirit of our Party's policies and in keeping with the principles of Marxism-Leninism--in all Party committees, in cadres' conferences, in local Party organizations and in the Party groups of factory administrations, National Committees, mass organizations and organs of National Security.
2) To draw organizational consequences in the cases where the comrades are not willing or able to carry out self-criticism as well as in those where neither criticism, nor self-criticism helps remedy their mistakes and improves the quality of their Party activities. Such comrades ought to be replaced by others, offering better guarantees of correctly carrying out Party policies.
3/ To improve, dramatically, the quality of mass political work, not just within the Party itself, but also in the mass organizations, and to develop broadly the organizational political work within the Party, to implement the Party Statutes in an efficient manner, in order to consolidate the membership ideologically, and to increase the activity and the fighting power of Party organizations and the Party organs.
The reactionary action and the failure of the Party on 1 June must serve as a serious warning to all Party organs and organizations in Plzen. The mistakes and shortcomings can only be overcome if they are mercilessly exposed first. A large Party organization such as the Plzen city organization must be able to deal with the Reaction and lead the working people in the successful realization of all goals connected with all aspects of the construction of socialism in our country.
[. . .]
Materials for a Meeting of the Organizational Secretariat of
On Monday, 1 June 1953, a strike by some of the employees of the Lenin Works in Plzen occurred, which gradually grew into an anti-State demonstration and disturbances. A reactionary rabble, with the support of the remnants of the Plzen bourgeoisie and the vacillating elements in the Lenin Works, committed the well-known acts of provocation and hooliganism. The demonstrations and disturbances were not liquidated until late in the day, following the intervention of units of the Peoples' Militia from Prague factories and army units.
The worst situation is at the Higher Social and Health School.
A number of the pupils greeted the demonstrating provocateurs with enthusiasm. Pupil S_____, the daughter of a locksmith in the Lenin Works stated she was not sorry for the Peoples' Militia member beaten by the mob. Among the pupils, there are some, whose parents had been arrested and convicted of political offenses.
The reasons the participants in the strike and the demonstration use most frequently to justify their actions include claims they did not know what would happen with their wages, that they lost their savings, or that they weren't sure how the advances would be paid out.
The measures carried out by the commission do not concern the trade union. The trade union organization is not in charge of the operation; it does not use it to strengthen its authority.
2) The Factory Party Cells which failed to hold brief meetings to attend to the appropriate battle assignments, but instead kept meeting until eight or nine o'clock, thereby isolating themselves from the rest of the employees, were guilty of a reckless lack of vigilance, as in their absence the Reaction was able to develop its activities freely. In those meetings, Communists spent a long time mulling over details of the currency reforms and questions of Party policy, failing to realize that, in a battle, they had to fight, and that any discussion concerning the details must await the successful achievement of the battle objectives. The behavior of those comrades is rooted in their failure to comprehend the principles of democratic centralism and Party discipline. [This failure] seriously undermined the ability of Party organizations to take action. Some even voiced the opinion that the Central Committee should have informed all Party members about the impending currency reform ahead of time. This attitude challenges the role of the Central Committee as the leading organ of the Party. It would have given the Reaction a chance to find out about the action of the Central Committee well before it could be launched.
The City Party Committee has failed to lead the local organization in the city properly. This has been true especially in the case of the large Lenin Works organization. The Regional Party Committee has failed to ensure that the City Party Committee should fulfill its political role correctly.