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(en) Czech, afed - August 21: Somewhat unpleasant look in the rearview mirror [machine translation]

Date Fri, 25 Aug 2017 21:04:24 +0300

The contribution of Jakub Polák from 1993 to the anniversary of the occupation of the CSSR by the "fraternal" armies ---- As a reminder of the events associated with August 21, 1968, we bring an article written by Jakub Polák about the 25th anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies. We also want to remember the author of the following text, which is no longer among us, on our site. ---- "Sure, and the Museum was also ringing pigeons!" This saying was used in "normalization" times when you wanted to tell someone that you did not believe he was lying and distorting the well-known facts. ---- For years, the facade of the National Museum, shot on August 21, 1968 with machine-gun batches, overwhelmed Wenceslas Square as a dumb, yet eloquent remark that there was something about the eighteenth. Something dangerous enough to call up half a million soldiers. It can not be ruled out that the repair has been deliberately postponed so that people have a reminder that threats of "unexpected consequences" may not be plausible.

Although it was hardly possible to talk about it, it was generally known that "brotherly help" was pretty bloody. The resistance against the occupiers was not just non-violent. According to incomplete statistics, about 90 people died on 21 August and in the following days only 15 people were shot or crushed in front of Prague Radio. For the first anniversary of August 21, tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles had to be deployed against large spontaneous demonstrations. And they were dead again.

What was most frightening of the power-holders at that time was not so much an individual demonstration as a spontaneous movement across the nation, a pressure from the bottom, an attempt at fundamental changes in society that had not been torn by occupational armies. This pressure has increased for a long time as the rising water before the dam. In the 1960s he peaked. At the turn of the '67 and '68, a few people were found at the top of the power pyramid in Czechoslovakia, who, partly for tactical reasons, partly out of good intentions, somewhat opened the gates. However, the flood began to spread the hole very quickly and to destroy the entire dam. Politicians, even more progressive, such as Dubcek and Co., have been more or less in the lurch of events. The public debate "raised new and new problems", as they repeatedly reluctantly. People have regained the hope that they can influence their lives, they are intensely interested in all the events, They began to communicate with each other and to associate themselves in promoting common interests. The overall atmosphere in society was significantly different from the current. People did not end up in their private interests, but felt the need for solidarity with others. Though not much talk today, despite workplace discussions, labor productivity has generally increased and crime has fallen significantly. People saw that there was a chance for a fairer society, and they behaved themselves more honestly. And above all, criminality has declined significantly. People saw that there was a chance for a fairer society, and they behaved themselves more honestly. And above all, criminality has declined significantly. People saw that there was a chance for a fairer society, and they behaved themselves more honestly.

Today's critics of the eighteenth are right that it was not a coup in the sense of returning to capitalism. For Vaclav Havel, he was also socialist. The capitalist world was going through an intense crisis and hoping to look at our experiment. In the West, the criticism of the system culminated - storms and revolts shattered with established ideas and suggested ways to the future. It was just the outrage of US soldiers in Vietnam, and the American president today[Bill Clinton - Existence]. Capitalism was full of teeth, and it seemed that his last hour was near.

In such a situation, it has not occurred to anyone to seriously claim that private ownership of everything will also solve everything. No one has ever dreamed of demanding the return of property to nobles and churches. Nobody's been so much scared about the big fanatics and house lords. No one was robbed of the political parties and the ballot with the voices of the deputies. Real democracy was born on the streets, in public debates that everyone could attend. Nobody has played too much with the notions of nations and races more or less chosen - privileges and welfare - perhaps because the example of the terrible ends to which he is led was barely more than twenty years old.

In poor political leadership, people did not see a disadvantage, but the first signal of the final death of the state and its replacement by self-government and direct democracy. Gradually they were forced to leave incapacitated party crucifixes and dishonest civil servants. The villains started shaking for their posts and the channel. The privileges of privileges of all kinds of elites have been questioned on the very foundations. There was an alternative to a centralized bureaucratic system. Dangerous for power elite not only in the East but also in the West. That is why the West so willingly agreed to the occupation.

General strike as the culmination of resistance

For us, perhaps the most interesting are the first about ten days after 21 August. After the arrest of the so-called top officials and their removal to Moscow, the state administration without head was completely paralyzed. What followed was evidence that anarchy - a state of "without rule" does not mean chaos and disintegration, but on the contrary, it allows the mobilization of the best qualities and abilities of the people, and allows the most difficult situations to be managed. Even the greatest bureaucrats, state officials, when they found out they could not expect directions from above, began to act as free people. Practically, the whole nation refused to cooperate with the occupiers (the clergymen could be relieved by not having received the appropriate instructions). Opponents failed to achieve a major immediate goal - the establishment of the so-called revolutionary workers' government and the creation of the idea that troops came at the invitation of legitimate authorities and the will of most Czechoslovaks.

On the contrary, when they suddenly found themselves without their "leaders" and authorities and ceased to rely on their "proven wisdom", they managed to spontaneously organize very effective and effective resistance. Even though the occupying troops had tried to prevent it, improvised illegal radio and television broadcasts began. Similarly, newspaper publishing continued. People, often with the help of life, ensured the dissemination of information that helped to unite and consistently resist the occupants. The authors of the letter of invitation, instead of taking great glory as they imagined, were cowardly hiding under the protection of the occupying forces.

The culmination of the general strike was a general strike which for several hours paralyzed the life of the whole country. Even though the organizers did not dare to invite public rallies, the unified procedure of millions of people for the occupants had to be a real shock.

Active resistance did not have to be hopeless

What would be the next development if Moscow did not recognize its mistake with the removal of "representatives" in time, and after a week did not come back, properly processed, back? How would the situation develop if the resistance persisted and the occupying troops tried harder to intervene? A systematic analysis examining events in terms of the chances of active resistance, as far as I know, no one having access to all the materials and documents, did not try. Let me add a few notes to this topic.

Our army, though paralyzed by a pre-ordered warrant of resistance and cooperation, refused to cooperate in these days, forbidding foreign soldiers to enter their premises, and even being bodies where they declared combat readiness and were ready for active resistance. They have also found mobilization plans and technical means of Civil Defense, especially radio stations. Even the People's Militia stood this time on the side of the people. An elite paratrooper unit - our analogy commandos, which was then located at Holešov airport - was even preparing for the liberation of captives, but the intelligence service did not manage to identify exactly where they were detained.

At that time I myself lived in Holešov at the same time. I was 16 years old and I remember the stormy atmosphere of the Holešov Barracks, the crowds surrounding the Russian tanks and transporters, the mood of the people who overwhelmed the anger above disappointment and resignation. He was not directing the soldiers but against the politicians who sent them here. We have tried, often successfully, to bring the soldiers into discussion and to convince them of their ineligibility. At least, we have succeeded in significantly weakening their morale. It has been shown that the behavior of the occupied country is shocked. According to the instructions of their politruks, they were ready either to fight with the "counter-revolutionaries" or to the people cheerfully welcoming the fraternal help. A soldier is trained to think in simple categories of friend or foe, shoot or make a team. What about people, Who do not shoot after you, but they still ask for your departure and they tell you that you're the fool who fired? As soon as we find out how many units had to be dropped prematurely for unreliability, how many Soviet soldiers refused to execute orders and were shot dead without delay. The number will remain forever mysterious, but there is no doubt about such cases.

Based on all available information, the following conclusions can be drawn:
* Czechoslovakia's occupation was a perfectly prepared event from a military point of view. The classic political scenario with the establishment of the puppet government and the occupation administration did not work. He encountered a phenomenon that the occupiers did not appreciate in their plans - a spontaneous self-organization capacity.
* The classic power structures were paralyzed by a military intervention, instead they created light informal new structures, able to flexibly adapt to new conditions and put an effective resistance. Occupants soon found out that effective government administration with the help of a handful of collaborators is an illusion.
* From the operation of new organizational and information networks, it could be concluded that strengthening the pressure will also lead to increased resistance. Reports of possible repression will spread immediately, evoked passions will lead to violent escalation of violence.
* Because it failed to gain full control over the armed forces, the police and the militia - it can be expected that the occupation forces will not only become a defenseless population.
* The first-time units that came into direct contact with the population in the first days were severely demoralized and their applicability to more vigorous actions was problematic. The second combat sequence did not count, and possible replacement by other sufficiently prepared and combatable units is complicated and lengthy.
* The use of an army of ordinary soldiers in basic military service for civilian massacres is problematic and the troops will cease to be reliable. Due to the large area of resistance, there were not enough specially trained units. It is well known that in large-scale demonstrations, standard police methods such as batons, tear gas and water cannon cease to be effective (estimates of the critical figure are around 20,000). The use of the army leads to massacres, the impact of which is very problematic. In the case of Romania, the deployment of the army against demonstrators in 1989 proved to be a mistake that dictator Ceausescu was standing. Eventually, they were soldiers who stood up against him, captured and executed. Even the Chinese at Heavenly Peace Square in 1989 used the army only for a one-off event, done at night, Who mercifully masked the greatest horror of the eyes of not only the public but also the soldiers. They could also afford this because the protest movement remained so far only for a small part of society - especially students and intellectuals.
* From an international perspective, further escalation of military action was also undesirable. After the first relatively quiet days, the thesis of the ongoing armed revolution was unsustainable. (In the middle of Europe, there is a situation other than in the mountains of Afghanistan, where Soviet troops invaded ten years later.)

Dangerous anarchy - how for whom

The occupiers apparently soon realized that by removing "top leaders" they actually relaxed the spontaneous self-organization of society and created conditions for the growth of a broad-based resistance movement. The "Representatives" were vigorously processed and broken and brought back to the top of the power pyramid. Even in time, until it finally collapsed until the social system finally transformed. People have conceded that it is a concession of the occupiers and at least a partial victory of the resistance movement. In fact, it was probably the only way to eliminate it.

The principles of respect for the Authority, respecting the will of the superiors, have begun to function again for generations. Many, with relief, discarded the burden of responsibility for their decision-making, and handed their fates into the hands of the "callers" and did not even ask much about the callers? They have become loyal citizens and have ceased to be free people.

It must be said that not all, or at least not at once. The memory of an intoxicating and uplifting feeling when one took his fate into his own hands, despite the sharply loaded machine guns, remained alive for a long time. Perhaps it can be revived in years, maybe it can be passed on to future generations. The great demonstrations in 1988 began on August 21st. If the coup in November 1989 did not meet our expectations, it is again because we too easily let the idea of having to be led by our "chosen" too easily.

The lesson for the next time is obvious. But if everyone does not do it alone, it is useless. The manuals issued by the Center have never been successful. Unfortunately, today's regime again has a tendency to bring about categorical judgments over the events of Orwellian history rewriters. The authors of the first "Lessons from Crisis Evolution" came up with the thesis of the 68th year as a game of dark political forces fighting for power. Every fox is judging by his tail. They have been in power for twenty years. Nowadays, the power-holders as an interpreter of the eighties use essentially a similar scheme - the welding of the two wings of the state-side.

Let's hope it lasts considerably less.
It depends on us, after all.
Or are we condemned for ages to be manipulated?

Jakub Polák

The article was published in the journal A-kontra no. 12-15 / 1993 and after ten years in Existence No. 4/2013 .

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