Czechoslovak Secret Police Memorandum, "Information on the Security Situation . . "
This Secret Police (StB) memorandum from 21 August details the plans of independent and opposition groups to commemorate the politically-sensitive anniversary of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion, and the police's "extraordinary security measures" to prevent the commemorations from taking place. The memorandum presents a striking picture of the scale and diversity of the repressive measures carried out for this event, which represented the culmination of the StB's experience since the first major public demonstrations in August 1988. Their preemptive strikes ranged from arresting known activists to counter-propaganda to the possible use on crowds of "technical equipment" (i.e., armored carriers and water cannons). The report also provides a window onto the state's logic in suppressing the demonstrations. Demonstrators were aware of the repressive apparatus that was ready to strike, and therefore on August 21 they organized silent walks through the pedestrian zones of major cities rather than holding rallies. Note how the memorandum presents this strategy as an act of willful provocation designed to stir up anti-government sentiment.
Czechoslovak Secret Police (StB) Memorandum, “Information on the Security
Situation and Further Tasks in the Struggle Against the Internal Enemy” in the
21 August 1989
On the security situation and further tasks in the struggle against the internal enemy
In the period from the end of July to the present day, information has established
increased activity of the internal and external enemy in the preparations of provocative
and confrontational acts on the occasion of the anniversary of 21 August 1968. The
evident goal is to compromise the leading position on the events of 21 August years ago
and the politics of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and through a public
demonstration of [the enemy’s] own strength to manifest themselves as an essential
socio-political factor. The enemy’s actions demonstrate increasingly pronounced
tendencies toward a transition from criticism to political activity aimed against the
principles of a socialist state. The actions of the 20-21 August should, according to the
expectations of the adversary, accelerate the fall and development of events in the
country with the aim of achieving their purpose.
One of the chief means of fulfilling [the opposition’s] plan is the campaign
centered around the pamphlet “A Few Sentences,” which is being spread over the
territory of the entire country and which 16,500 citizens are supposed to have signed. 1
The activity of the adversary necessitated undertaking extensive measures. Legal
proceedings were taken against the criminal act of sedition according to paragraph 100 of
the criminal code. With the agreement of the municipal prosecutor in Prague, house
searches of the main organizers S. DEVATY, A. VONDRA, J. URBAN and J. KRIZAN
were conducted.2 It was proven that Vaclav Havel was the chief organizer and author of
the pamphlets. Documentation was obtained on the criminal activity of the main
organizers of the enemy campaign. Prosecution of these individuals can be successfully
carried out only in the event that all of the organizers, including Vaclav HAVEL, about
whom there is also incriminating material, be tried. It is necessary to consider the leveling
of accusations and imprisonment through the perspective of the developing security
situation and decide whether to proceed to trial immediately on the 21 August 1989.
Measures taken against the distributors confirm that in most cases these individuals do
not have any ties to the organizers and that they gather signatures at the instigation of
Western media (RADIO FREE EUROPE, VOICE OF AMERICA).
Measures were undertaken on the entire territory of the CSSR with respect to the
distribution of pamphlets and preparation for anti-socialist actions. In total 211
interrogations were carried out, 10 people were charged with crimes according to
paragraph 100 of the criminal code, 76 people were charged with felonies according to
paragraph 6 of law #150/69 Sb., 13 were charged with misdemeanors, and 15 were given
An analogous action, which was supposed to intensify the atmosphere and bring
about a split in the ranks of the CPCz, was in the form of a letter from the leadership of
the so-called RENEWAL (OBRODA) to all members of the party. The plan of the
antagonist was nipped in the bud and its spread was successfully stopped. The original
letter along with copying equipment was confiscated and house searches of main
organizers M. HAJKA, V. SILHAN and V. KOLMISTR were conducted after the
opening criminal prosecutions for the criminal act of dishonoring the Republic and its
representatives. A warning was given to all those named by the municipal prosecutor in
On the territory of the Slovak Socialist Republic (SSR), CARNOGURSKY,
KUSY, SELECKY, PONIKA and MANAK in particular are perpetrating enemy acts,
consisting of organizing anti-social appearances, instigating citizens to participate in
them, and distribution of materials abroad for enemy purposes, where they are used in
anti-Czechoslovak campaigns. Criminal prosecution for crimes of sedition, specifically
injuring the interests of the Republic abroad, was initiated by an investigator of the SNB
(National Security Force) on 14 August 1989, and the above-mentioned individuals were
indicted. A proposal was brought forth for the imprisonment of CARNOGURSKY and
KUSY. This measure was approved by the general prosecutor of the SSR. 4
Within the framework of the preparations for the August gathering, the so-called
Independent Peaceful Coalition began to organize a so-called silent march in pedestrian
zones daily, starting on 1 August 1989. Several dozen people are participating in these
marches, and their numbers increase daily. Besides provoking the state powers, the
antagonist wants to activate the public, confirm his own ability to act and disclose
The fundamental issue in the activity of the opponent is the preparation for public
appearances on 20-21 August, 1989. As the result of security measures carried out (for
example, prevention of a meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Independent
Initiatives—OBRODA, HOS, CH-77, NMS, Ecological Section of CH-77 5 —on 2/2,
during which forms of protest and the publication of a common declaration were
supposed to be discussed; prevention of a meeting of the members of an HOS branch in
Prague 4, during which the concrete events for the anniversary in August were supposed
to be discussed; impairment of the public acts of NMS, etc.), the opponents’ opinions
about the character of these acts significantly differ and are divided. From the marginal
(demonstrations on Wenceslas Square with a clash with police—asserted for example by
the speaker of Charter-77 HRADLIK) through the “re-strained” to the opinion not to hold
any public events (for example Jan Urban advises instead to concentrate on the
establishment of independent committees and penetrate into enterprises and territories). A
group of former communists united in the so-called RENEWAL [group] who refuse to
take part in eventual public appearances, likewise endorses this last opinion, under the
influence of under-taken measures.
At the present time, the “silent march” variation of demonstrating in the
pedestrian zone in Prague on 20- 21 August 1989, dominates in the enemy camp. CH-77
together with other initiatives are inclined toward this.
Analogous acts are to take place in other towns, such as Brno, Plzen, Tabor, Usti
nad Labem, Litomence, Olomouc, Chomutov, Hradec Kralove, Zilin, Bratislava and
Kostice. It is possible to envision provocative demonstrations also in other parts of the
Republic. We are dealing with the tactics of an opponent who does not call directly for
open enemy manifestations, but tries to create the appearance of a peaceful gathering of
citizens. The opponent is counting on the creation of a tense situation during a greater
gathering of people, which will then easily lead to a demonstration of spontaneous protest
against the politics of the CPCz.
Several other forms of provocative acts are also being assessed, such as the
distribution of the declaration by Charter 77 and [the laying of] flowers to honor the
memory of those who fell at the embassy of the USSR in Prague, the laying of a bouquet
on 20 August at the statue of St. Wenceslas, the laying of flowers where Czech citizens
died during the Warsaw Pact army invasion, the hoisting of a red flag on Pradeda in
Jeseníky 6 and the ringing of the bells of St. Tomas in Brno.
The internationalization of the acts of the internal enemy and the cooperation with
its counterparts from PLR (People’s Republic of Poland) and MLR (People’s Republic of
Hungary) is clearly increasing, and is constantly acquiring more concrete shapes, from
instruction and consultation to organizing common concrete acts. From the experience of
MICHNIK 7 , BUJAK and others’ impact on the representatives of opposing forces
during their stay in the CSSR in the beginning of August 1989, measures will be taken to
prevent their announced arrival in CSSR and the prevention of their participation in
provocative acts. Analogous measures are also being taken against the representatives of
Hungarian opposition groups. Polish Solidarity is preparing provocative acts on the
borders with the CSSR in support of acts in the CSSR.
In recent times the danger of the impact of the so-called Democratic Initiative
(MANDLER and co.) is growing, and unlike CH-77, is principally oriented towards
penetrating into working-class youth and into the country-side in order to try and create
so-called alternative organizations.
The so-called Czechoslovak Helsinki Committee sent a letter to the Prime
Minister and the general prosecutor of the CSSR on 12 August 1989, in which it
completely [and] unequivocally accused the government of the CSSR and the Ministry of
the Interior of trying to incite a confrontation with citizens demanding democratic
renewal. They allege that for example the campaign against the appeal “A Few
Sentences” developed into a direct “criminalization” of this legal petitional act.
They further accuse the organs of state power of trying to fabricate proof of a
connection between a group of saboteurs who commit arson in northern Bohemia and
“independent initiatives,” of which there supposedly is no proof. Hitherto investigations
unequivocally prove, through witness statements and house searches, a connection
between one of the main defendants Jan GREGOR and representatives UHL 8 and
CIBULKA of CH-77. Witnesses have proven that GREGOR also visited the
representative of CH-77 Vaclav BENDA 9 many times in Prague. In his established
correspondence GREGOR expresses his resolve to fight by any means against the rising
socialist leadership and the CPCz, and his decision to influence youth in this spirit.
Despite the defendants’ denial of the charges against them and their refusal to testify,
there is further proof of the their criminal act of sabotage, especially concerning the four
From the contents of the above-mentioned letter it is evident that it is the
endeavor of anti-socialist forces to shift the blame for the confrontational nature of the
acts and for the eventual decisive intervention of the power apparatus against them, onto
the Czechoslovak departments Public Security (VB) and Peoples’ Militia (LM).10
Through this they wish to show the “illegitimacy” of the present leadership of the CSSR
on the August platform and to create an atmosphere which they expect will result in the
resignation of the political and state leadership and in the installment of “temporary state
organs.” The foremost exponents of illegal structures have decided to establish the socalled Czechoslovak civic forum for coordination and [to create a] unified plan of action,
as a guarantee for the “creation of a democratic and legal state.” Proposals are being
prepared detailing the nature of the activity of a “united” opposition aimed at the factual
assumption of power, in which they anticipate the dissolution of the Federal Assembly
and the establishment in its place of a “temporary legislative assembly” which will
prepare and negotiate a new constitution for the CSSR. According to the expectations of
the antagonist, a new government would subsequently be created, which would
consequently realize their idea of a legal state. Parallel to this a plan is being worked out
to create a new “independent youth union,” in which independent unions would be
brought together, for example university youth, working youth, etc.
A set of complex measures in preventive and repressive areas is being carried out
to frustrate the plans and goals of the opponent.
Technical measures were carried out to prevent the communication of news
abroad by telephone by known informers of the editorial staff of Radio Free Europe and
Voice of America. All meetings of the so-called initiatives are being stopped with the aim
of not allowing them to unite.
In order to strengthen the effectiveness of security measures carried out on the
territory of the CSSR, the FMZV [Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs]11 took steps
toward the prevention of the arrival of visa-holding foreigners who are presumed to
partake in enemy activities and for the prevention of the arrival of individuals with enemy
intentions from ZSS [Socialist Countries] (specifically from Poland and Hungary). On the
border crossings measures [are being implemented] to prevent the arrival of known
exponents of Solidarity and the so-called independent initiative from Hungary, who have
come to the CSSR in the past.
In the area of counter-propaganda, materials are being distributed which
document the enemy activity of the main organizers, in order to discredit them to the
The chief exponents of the so-called independent initiatives and known
individuals from the enemy environment will be under the control of the organs of the
SNB [National Security Force] so that they will not be able to participate in enemy
The course of action of the security organs in collaboration with the LM [People’s
Militia] in the event of organized antisocial appearances is being elaborated in several
In the event that the so-called “silent march” takes place, documents will be
checked and individuals actively participating in the organization of the SNB [National
Security Force] will be summoned. If petitions, verbal attacks or spontaneous
declarations of opposition against the party and state leadership and the police of the
CSSR should come to pass, security units will be called in to force out and disperse the
crowd from the area.
If, despite these measures, a massive antisocial demonstration takes place,
disciplinary powers will be brought in to carry out necessary decisive intervention and
restore peace and order through the use of technical equipment.
The Emergency Regiment VB CSR [Public Security of the Czech Socialist
Republic] (1,200 informers and 400 members of the permanent establishment) and the
Emergency Department VB SSR [Public Security of the Slovak Socialist Republic] in
Bratislava (565 informers and 190 members of the permanent establishment) are the
decisive force of the SNB to be dispatched in the event of mass anti-social gatherings in
Prague. The technical equipment of these organizations includes armored carriers, water-
canons and other emergency instruments.
Emergency units of the VB are being created and prepared according to the
possibilities and needs of any given section in every SNB organization at the county and
district level. Within the framework of the CSR, the leaders of KS SNB (including the
administration of SNB Prague) have at their disposal school emergency departments
which function as their reserves to be brought in as a compact unit. All the mentioned
emergency units are thoroughly prepared to perform tasks and their prepared-ness is
good. During their preparation they collaborated with the units of the LM in their
From the Border Guards a reserve of 720 soldiers from the basic service and
career soldiers with the necessary technology has been created, of these 460 members of
the Border Guards are intended for Prague.
In individual counties and districts, [possible] locations for anticipated mass antisocial gatherings are being identified and intervention plans are being practiced there.
Extraordinary attention in the preparation for the protection of law and order is
devoted to the capital, Prague. Mass anti-social gatherings are anticipated specifically
within the confines of Wenceslas Square, Peace Square, Old Town Square, on Letna
[plain], Stromovka [park] and Kampa [island]. Intervention actions are practiced in these
locations, but forces are ready to strike in other places as well.
The operational staff of the FMV [Federal Interior Ministry] was created for the
leadership and coordination of security measures. The responsibility for the preparation
and completion of tasks to protect the peace from attempts to stage anti-social gatherings
has been to the responsible deputies of MV ZP CSR and SSR. Emphasis was placed on
the universal preparedness of the security forces and technologies, preparations of
individual variations and placement and leadership.
The head of the administration of LM CSSR announced extraordinary measures
for the days of 17-22 August 1989. The focus of the tasks lies in the acquisition of
information and assurance of uninterrupted activity in the factories. Heightened attention
is being given to the protection of stockpiles of weapons and ammunition.
Regional LM staffs have cooperated with SNB organizations and are prepared for
combined security patrols during the above-mentioned period and incorporation into
security units with forces and equipment determined in the plans for cooperation.
For the capital Prague, 10 troops will be prepared specifically on bases destined
for the local SNB administrations, and 1 LM company for MS VB Prague. In addition to
this, 300 members of the LM will be prepared as reserves.
The chief of the General Staff of the MNO [Ministry of National Defense]
released a “guideline” for securing the tasks in which he ordered the troops to prepare
and detail forces and equipment for the SNB in the calculations determined in the
agreement between the FMV and CSLA [Czechoslovak People’s Army] before the
redeployment of the army.
The third degree of extraordinary security measures [which has been] announced
[MBO],12 does not yet presuppose the deployment of forces and equipment of the —
SLA. Their usage is possible only under higher degrees of MBO. Under the fourth
degree, MBO soldiers are brought in for combined patrols and part of the technology is
used. Under the fifth degree of the MBO, the guarding of designated objects is added and
the CSLA arranges the planned security forces and special technology, which will be
brought in during the sixth degree (MBO). The law #40/ 74 Sb. makes it possible for
CSLA troops to be brought in, according to which the minister of the interior of the
CSSR has the authority to enlist the members of the CSLA to fulfill the tasks of the SNB
after an agreement with the minister of national defense.
The detailed technology of the CSLA include trucks, connecting appliances,
armored transports for infantry and water canons.
For the capital Prague, 2,300 soldiers of the basic service and career soldiers with
the necessary technology [already] have been prepared for service in the combined
security patrols and the security units. Furthermore a regiment of tanks of the minister of
national defense is prepared to serve as a reserve (1,160 members of the CSLA with
It has been proven that the internal and external enemy considers the anniversary
of 21 August as an opportunity to confront the state powers and to discredit the present
leadership of the party and the state.
The western media provides the necessary framework for this. They try to draw a
picture in the public’s mind of a deepening crisis in our society which, according to their
prognosis, should result in its end, and, at the latest by next year’s end, develop into a
struggle for political power, the removal of the CPCz from the leading role in society and
a complete dismantling of the principles of socialism.
They clearly, at the same time, count on developments in neighboring socialist
countries, especially in Poland and Hungary to influence the minds of our people. They
concentrate primarily on the support and propagation of the activity of illegal
organizations and their members, and simultaneously strive to prove that the party is not
able to lead the society and secure its progress any longer.
The activity of internal and external enemies is aimed at bringing about the
legalization of the operation of opposing groups and their assertion as real political
powers in the societies, which, following the Polish model forced the state leadership to a
round-table dialogue. At the same time one must not underestimate the influence and
long-term plans of the Roman Catholic Church. Its political ambition was explicitly
expressed by Cardinal Tomasek in an open letter to the government functionaries and
citizens of the CSSR.
The existence and activity of illegal organizations and the prolonged and
increasing influence of the western media, especially the broadcast stations RADIO
FREE EUROPE and VOICE OF AMERICA, impacts in a negative way on a segment of
our population. Cases of anonymous threats addressed to functionaries of party and state
organs and the National Front organization, of disrespect for the SNB, CSLA and LM,
and of verbal attacks on their members are on the rise.
With regard to these realities it is impossible to rule out the possibility that during
the so-called silent demonstration on the 20-21August 1989, an atmosphere will be
created among the participants that could grow into an open display of enmity toward the
state and the party as a start of a series of further acts planned during the course of this
year and the beginning of the next, aimed at destabilizing the society.
This is the reason for the preparation of necessary security measures for the
frustration of their confrontational plans.
[Source: A. Lorenc et al., T8/91 vol. XIX., envelope 1, #79-84 (also vol. XXI, #2242-
2247). Published in Czech in Organizace a Rízeni, Represe v CSSR: Operacni Staby
Generala Lorence 1988-1989, Edice Dokumentu Vol. 4/II (Úrad Dokumentace a
Vysetrovani Zlocinu Komunismu1998). Translated for CWIHP by Caroline Kovtun.]
Czechoslovak Secret Police(StB), memorandum, "Information on the Security Situation and Further Tasks in the Struggle Against the Internal Enemy," 21 August 1989, trans. Caroline Kovtun, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).