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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 04, 1968

REPORT OF THE MEETING OF A SPECIAL LEADERSHIP OF THE HV KSČ [MAIN COMMITTEE OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK COMMUNIST PARTY] ON JANUARY 4, 1968

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    Conversation among Czechoslovak Communist Party leaders regarding functions and positions within the military and calling for a plenum the next day to resolve disputes.
    "Report of the Meeting of a Special Leadership of the HV KSČ [Main Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party] on January 4, 1968," January 04, 1968, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Ústrední vojenský historický archiv (Czech Central Military Archives, VHA), MNO-HV KSČ MNO,1968.č.j.040/2; published in Antonín Benčík, ed., Vojenské otázky československé reformy 1967-1970, vol. 1, s. 55-56. Obtained by East China Normal University, Shanghai, and translated by Mike Kubic. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/176526
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1968, January 4, Prague – Report of the special meeting of the leadership of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSČ) in the Ministry of National Defense on the subject of emerging opinions in the Army following the December and during the January sessions of the ÚV KSČ.[1]

Report[2]
of the meeting of a special leadership of the HV KSČ [Main Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party] on January 4, 1968
[3]
(this is not a stenographic report) 

Present: Comrades Blatenský, Černuška, Čunát, Erdinger, Jašek, Lux, Srovnal, Šejnal, Šebestal, Paluš, Vosáhlo, employees of the secretariat of the HV, and chairman of the Central Committee Comrade Kerlický.

Agenda: Information about the development of attitudes, views and positions of the HV KSČ [Main Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia] and MNO [Ministry of National Defense].

J. Šejnal: Informed the leadership that in the ÚV, comrades and popular bases call increasingly for more information about the proceedings of the Central Committee. Requested decision whether we should give information from the Central Committee, and from which organ, whether the leadership or the plenum.

J. Lux: Today I dealt with the active membership of HT. There emerged voices that it is the greatest tragedy since 1945, why these questions go past organs, past the leadership of our Central Committee. It was recommended that we provide information for our representatives in the Central Committee, members and candidates of the plenum.

K. Jašek: the meeting of the Central Committee will be addressed by Comrade Prchlík and his address is being prepared, he could carry it out.

J, Vosáhlo: I believe that it would be correct if it was expressed by our organization, not through the mouth of one of our representatives, but as a position of the Central Committee.

F. Černuška: In my opinion, we should state our position completely clearly, because if the existing tendencies and attitudes continue – and which reach the basic principles of the life of our Party and our society --, then there is a danger that they will affect the annual meetings in January.

K. Blatenský: He supports the proposal that we should send the information, that we should ascertain the views from ZO, and invite their representative to our meeting.

J. Srovnal: Agrees on sending of information.

J. Erdinger:[4] Conflicting information by civilian organizations shows that some members of the Central Committee spoke about their own positions.[5] It’s my impression that these proclamations were aimed to win support for their own opinions, which is at odds with the letter of the Central Committee as well as the position of the Party. We have the duty to inform the Central Committee.

O. Kerlický: I support sending even today the Central Committee’s information and recommend calling a session of the plenum of the Main Committee.

M. Paluš:[6] Information is seeping through also from monitors and such. It is correct to state our position to the Central Committee on behalf of the Communists in the Ministry of National Defense.  That’s the duty of every member of the Party, to speak up. To wait to see what happens and then pretend to be wise, that’s not fair.

Decision: PHV charges Comrade Šejna with ensuring the calling of the plenum and with discussing the information of the Main Committee of the KSČ.

J. Čunát: Recommends the calling of the plenum of the Central Committee and a meeting of assets [aktivem] today at 16:00 hours, discussing with them the proposed information and after it is approved, deliver it to the Central Committee. He also proposed what it should say.[7]

K. Blatenský: I recommend carrying out formal correction of the division of functions of the first secretary and the president, but otherwise I agree.

J. Lux: I agree with the letter and recommend correction of the position involving ideas on conflicts and badmouthing of the leading functionary.  

J. Erdinger: If there is someone today who can take the liberty of throwing dirt on the leading functionary and Comrade Novotný, we have the right to support him, we have the duty to protect him against these opinions and slander, and fight against him.

J. Šejnal: I recommend calling the plenum in a meeting tomorrow morning and working out some of the divisive positions and proposals in the suggested letter. 

K. Blatenský: I recommend calling the plenum tomorrow morning.

Comrades Srovnal, Paluš, Šebesta, Vosáhlo expressed similar views.

Decision: Call up a session of the HV [Main Committee], SK and the nearest assets [aktivu] on May 1, 1968 at 7:30 a.m.

After a discussion give information at the disposal of members of the Central Committee of the Ministry of National Defense and inform 8th department of the Central Committee.

J. Lux: Why didn’t members of the Central Committee of the Ministry of Defense Ministry explained the positions and tendencies in the Ministry to the plenum of the Central Committee.

J. Šejnal: Comrades have probably discussed [this] and they won’t be able to fulfill our wish.

J. Lux: I recommend inviting members of the Central Committee of the Defense Ministry[8] to our meeting[9]

VHA, MNO – HV KSČ MNO, 1968, NO J. 040/2.—Typewriter A4, 3s.  

[1] Active number, degree of secrecy, number of prints, number of sheets

[2] Underlined by the author. In the same way are emphasized the names of the discussants  

[3] See document no.14, which sums up and evaluates the meeting

[4] Col. Josef Erdinger – until April 1968 chairman of KRK of the Main Committee of the KSČ in the Ministry of National Defense.

[5] This refers to those the members of the KSC Central Committee who criticized A. Novotný and called for the division of the two highest functions.

[6] Lt. Col. Milan Paluš – employee of HPS ČSLA and representative of the basic organization of the KSČ and the Party’s Main Committee in the Defense Ministry.

[7] The presentation of Col. Čunát, the secretary of the Main Committee of the KSČ, confirms that the proposal made to the Central Committee KSČ was prepared in advance by Šejna and his closest collaborators, and that what was needed was only to secure the support of the Main Committee of the Party and of a narrower group of assets [aktivu] at the Ministry of Defense to send it off. See also document no.14.

[8] Compare with document no. 4, note no.9.

[9] The usually included name of the recorder is missing