A look at the invasion of Czechoslovakia 45 years later
"Operation Danube". This was the name in the documents of strategic doctrine troops of the five member countries of the Warsaw Pact, whose goal was to "protect the socialist gains in Czechoslovakia."
Under Gorbachev to send troops to Czechoslovakia 21 August 1968 was described as a "suppression of the construction of socialism with a human face", and after the collapse of the USSR, these events are described only in sharply condemning and sometimes rough form, the foreign policy of the USSR is considered aggressive, Soviet soldiers are called "occupiers" and so on. n.
Today's writers are not willing to deal with the fact that all the events happening in the world, and occur in a particular international or domestic situation in a given time period, and judge the past by the standards of today. Question: could the socialist countries and the leadership in the first place, the Soviet Union at the time to make another decision?
The international situation
While the two worlds exist in Europe, opposite ideology - socialist and capitalist. Two economic organization - the so-called colloquially "Common Market" in the West and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance in the East.
There were two opposing military blocs - NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Now just remember that in 1968 the GDR was the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, in Poland - Northern Group of Soviet troops in Hungary - Southern Group of Forces. But for some reason do not remember that in West Germany deployed US forces, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and were ready to move out, if necessary, the army corps of the Netherlands and France. The two army groups were in a state of full combat readiness.
Each of the parties to protect their interests and observing decorum, by any means trying to weaken another.
The socio-political situation in Czechoslovakia
At the January 1968 Plenum of the Central Committee were subjected to fair criticism of mistakes and shortcomings of the country's leadership, as well as the decision on the need for change in order of economic management of the state. The Central Committee was elected General Secretary Alexander Dubcek, who led the reform, later called "the building of socialism with a human face". Changed leadership of the country (except the president L. Svoboda), and with it began to change the internal and external policies.
Using sounded at the plenum criticized leadership, opposition political forces, speculating the requirements of "expansion" of democracy, we began to discredit the Communist Party, government agencies, public security organs and socialism in general. It began preparing a hidden change of the state system.
In the media, on behalf of the people needed: the abolition of the party leadership of the economic and political life, the HRC classified as a criminal organization, the ban on its activities, the dissolution of the state security agencies and the People's Militia. (The people's militia - to keep 1948 title party armed workers' detachments, reports directly to the Secretary General of the Central Committee.)
Across the country, there were various "clubs" ( "Club 231", "Club of active non-Party") and other organizations, the main aim and objective of which was to blacken the country's history since 1945, to rally opposition to conduct anti-constitutional propaganda. By mid-1968, the Interior Ministry received 70 applications for registration of new organizations and associations. Thus, the "231 Club" (on the basis of Article 231 of the Law on the Protection of the Constitution and against the state punishable by anti-constitutional activity) was established in Prague March 31, 1968, although it did not have permission from the Interior Ministry. The club joined more than 40 thousand people, among whom were former criminal and state criminals. According to the newspaper "Rude Pravo", including members of the club were former Nazis, SS, genleynovtsy ministers of the puppet "Slovak state", the representatives of the reactionary clergy. At a meeting of the club's general secretary Jaroslav Brodsky said: - "The best communist - is a dead communist, and if he is still alive, he should pull the legs". In enterprises and in the various branches of the organization of the club were created, which were called "society in the protection of speech and press."
One of the most prominent anti-constitutional materials can be considered the appeal of the underground organization "Revolutionary Committee of the Democratic Party of Slovakia", common in June, organizations and enterprises of Sweet. It demands were made: to dissolve the collective farms and cooperatives, to distribute land to the peasants, to hold elections under the control of Great Britain, USA, Italy and France, to stop the press criticism of Western countries, and focus it on the Soviet Union to allow legal activities existing in bourgeois Czechoslovakia political parties, join in 1968 "Carpathian Rus" to Czechoslovakia. The proclamation ended with the slogan: "Death to the Communist Party!"
French weekly "Express" May 6 resulted in a statement of the foreign editor of the newspaper "Literarni sheets" Antonina Lima: "Today, in Czechoslovakia there is a question of taking power." Secretly revived activity of the Social-Democratic Party and the Labor Party.
In order to create a certain counterbalance to the Warsaw Pact was revived the idea of creation of the Little Entente, as a regional bloc of socialist and capitalist countries and a buffer between the great powers. Publications on this subject have been taken up by the Western media. A notable observation was the analyst of the French newspaper "Le Figaro": "The geographical position of Czechoslovakia can turn it in the bar of the Warsaw Pact, the pact, and in the gap, which opens the entire Eastern bloc military system." In May, a group of employees of the Prague Military-Political Academy published "Notes on the development of the Program of Action of the Czechoslovak People's Army." The authors proposed a "Czechoslovak way out of the Warsaw Pact or perhaps joint actions with other socialist countries of Czechoslovakia on the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty as a whole and its replacement with a system of bilateral relations." As an option, there was a proposal to take a position of "consistent neutrality" in its foreign policy. Serious attacks from the standpoint of "common economic calculation" made against the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.
June 14 Czechoslovak opposition invited the famous "Sovietologist" Zbigniew Brzezinski for performances in Prague with lectures, in which he outlined his strategy of "liberalization", called for the destruction of the HRC, as well as the elimination of the police and state security. According to him, it is fully "supported the interesting Czechoslovak experiment."
Direct undermining national interests of Czechoslovakia were calls for "rapprochement" with Germany, sounded not only in the media but also in the speeches of some leaders of the country.
It is not only limited to words.
Western borders of Czechoslovakia were open, began to liquidate border fences and fortifications. As directed by the Security Minister Paul identified counterintelligence spies of Western countries are not detained, and give them the opportunity to leave. (In 1969, the government of Czechoslovakia, Paul was put on trial and executed.)
The activities of foreign governments, military and media
During this period, consultative meetings were held of representatives of NATO, which studied possible measures to bring the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic of the socialist camp. The United States expressed willingness to have an impact on the Czechoslovakia on the loan from the capitalist countries, using the interest of Czechoslovakia in return her gold reserves.
In 1968, its activities in Czechoslovakia stepped Vatican. His leadership recommended that activities of the Catholic Church to ensure that merge with the movement for "independence" and "liberalization", as well as take the role of "support and freedom in Eastern Europe", focusing on Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany.
The population of Czechoslovakia persistently instills the idea that by the Federal Republic of Germany is no danger of revenge does not exist, that it is possible to think of returning to the country of the Sudeten Germans. The newspaper "The General Anzeiger" (Germany) wrote: "The Sudeten Germans would expect from Czechoslovakia, liberated from communism, return to the Munich Agreement, under which the fall of 1938 Sudetenland was ceded to Germany." The program of the National Democratic Party of Germany, one of the items reads: "Sudeten must again become German, because they are acquired by Nazi Germany under the Munich Agreement, which is an effective international agreement." This program actively supported the "Sudeten Germans" and the neo-fascist organization "Vitikobund". And the editor of "Prace" Irzhichek Czech trade union newspaper said on German television: - "About 150 thousand Germans living in our country. It is hoped that the remaining 100-200 thousand could return home later. " Of course, no one anywhere had not thought about the persecution of the Sudeten Germans, Czechs.
In correspondence agency ADN reported that the Bundeswehr officers repeatedly sent to Czechoslovakia with intelligence purposes. This applies especially to the officers of the 2nd Army Corps, whose connections were stationed near the border of Czechoslovakia. Later it became known that in preparation for the scheduled for the autumn teaching of German troops "Black Lion" the whole command of the 2nd Corps, up to and including the battalion commander, visited the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic as a tourist destination and traveled on likely routes of movement of their parts. Since the beginning of "exercises" scheduled to take a short throw territories seized by Germany in 1938, and put the international community with a fait accompli. The calculation was based on the fact that, if the Soviet Union and the United States did not go to war over Israel captured in the 1967 Arab territories, it will not now.
In order to create a situation in Czechoslovakia, which would facilitate the exit of Czechoslovakia from the Warsaw Pact, NATO, the Council has developed a program "Zephyr."
The Finnish newspaper article "Pyayvyan Sanomat" on September 6, 1968 it was reported that in the area of Regensburg (Germany) "has worked and continues to work the body to keep track of the events in Czechoslovakia. In July, he began operating a special monitoring and control center, which US officers called "strike force headquarters." It consists of more than 300 employees, including reconnaissance officers and political advisers. Center three times a day reported information about the situation in Czechoslovakia headquarters of NATO. " It is interesting to note the representative of NATO headquarters: - "Although due to the invasion of the Warsaw Pact in Czechoslovakia and the conclusion of the Moscow Agreement, a special center and has not decided its tasks, its activities still was and continues to be a valuable experience for the future."
Thus, in the spring of 1968 the socialist countries were faced with a choice:
- allow the opposition forces push of Czechoslovakia from the socialist path;
- open a potential enemy the way to the East, to jeopardize not only the group of Warsaw Pact troops, but also the results of the Second World War;
- Commonwealth forces to defend the socialist system in Czechoslovakia and to assist the development of its economy;
- once and for all put an end to the Munich policy, rejecting all claims of the heirs of Hitler's revenge;
- to put an obstacle in front of the new "Drang nach Osten", showing to the world that nobody will be able to reshape the postwar borders established as a result of the struggle of many peoples against fascism.
Based on the current situation at the end of July 1968 the second was selected. However, if the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia did not show such weakness and tolerance for the enemies of the ruling party and the existing political system, nothing like this would not be. The military and political leadership of the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries to closely monitor developments in Czechoslovakia and tried to bring his assessment to the government of Czechoslovakia. Meetings were held senior management of the Warsaw Pact in Prague, Dresden, Warsaw, Cierna nad Tisou. The meetings discussed the prevailing situation, the Czech leadership were given recommendations, but to no avail.
In the last days of July, at a meeting in Cierna nad Tisou A. Dubcek it was stated that in the event of failure of the socialist countries of the recommended measures will include troops in Czechoslovakia. Dubcek not only did not take any action, but did not carry this warning to the Central Committee and the government. From a military point of view, other solutions could not be. Rejection of the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, and even more so the whole country from the Warsaw Pact and its alliance with NATO put a flank attack groupings Commonwealth troops in the German Democratic Republic, Poland and Hungary. A potential opponent gets direct access to the border of the Soviet Union.
From the memoirs of the commander of the "Alpha" KGB of the USSR, Hero of the Soviet Union, Major General Retired Zaitsev Gennady Nikolaevich (1968 - head of the group of the 7th Department of the KGB during "Operation Danube"):
"At that time, the situation in Czechoslovakia was as follows.
... At first the plan began to come out is not even the "progressives" of the HRC, and non-partisan forces - members of the various "social" and "political" clubs, which is different orientation to the West and hatred of the Russian. June was the beginning of a new phase of the aggravation of the situation in Czechoslovakia and the HRC guide, and in mid-August the team oak-check has completely lost control of the situation in the country.
It is also noteworthy that some of the leaders of the "Prague Spring" believed that the West's liking certainly materialize in the form of US tough anti-Soviet position in the event of military action on the part of the Soviet Union. "
There was a task: a group led by GN Zaitsev enter the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and take it under control. Interior Minister Paul VI was able to escape the day before. According to numerous testimonies, Paul VI with the development of the "Prague Spring" gradually abolished the state security organs, getting rid of communist cadres and supporters in Moscow. Its employees, who tried to work to neutralize the so-called "progressives" (Club of Non-Party Activists and organization of K-231), he threatened reprisals. Pending a decision of the government it was ordered: immediately stop the jamming of foreign broadcasts and begin dismantling.
... The documents contained information that the Minister of the Interior I. Paul and Head of Department of the CPC Central Committee General Prhlik "prepared the project of managing the Center, which shall take all state power into their own hands when the political tension in the country." It also says, and the implementation of "preventive security measures against the appearances of conservative forces, including the establishment of labor camps." In other words, the country has carried out a hidden but very real preparations for the establishment of concentration camps, where they were to be are hidden all the opposition the regime "with a human face" of power ... And if we add to this titanic effort of some foreign intelligence services and agents of Western influence, intending at all costs tear Czechoslovakia from the Eastern bloc, the general sequence of events did not look as clear as we try to be sure.
... How did we manage to capture is not a small European country in the shortest possible time and with minimal losses? A significant role in this course of events played a neutral position of the Czechoslovak Army, (and it is about 200 thousand. People armed at the time of modern military equipment). I want to emphasize that General Martin Dzur in that very difficult situation, has played a key role. But the main reason for the small number of victims was the behavior of the Soviet soldiers who have shown amazing restraint in Czechoslovakia.
... According to the Czech historians, entering troops killed nearly a hundred people injured and traumatized - about a thousand.
... I am convinced that simply did not exist at that time no other way out of the crisis. In my opinion, the results of the "Prague Spring" is very instructive. If it were not tough actions of the USSR and its allies, the Czech leadership, immediately after passing the stage of "socialism with a human face", to be in the arms of the West. Warsaw bloc would lose a strategically important state in the heart of Europe, NATO would have been at the borders of the USSR. Let us be completely honest: the operation in Czechoslovakia gave the world two generations of Soviet children. Or is not it? After all, "letting go" of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union would inevitably faced with the effect of a house of cards. to riots broke out in Poland and Hungary. Then would come the turn of the Baltic states, and after it, and the Caucasus. "
On the night of August 21, troops of five Warsaw Pact countries entered the territory of Czechoslovakia, the Prague airport a landing. The troops were ordered not to open fire until they were fired at. Columns were at higher speeds, stop the car collides with the roadway, so as not to interfere with the movement. By morning all the advanced units of the Commonwealth came in a given area. Czechoslovak troops were ordered out of the barracks, do not go. Their military camps were blocked with armored vehicles to remove the battery from tractor blended fuel.
It is interesting that at the beginning of August, representatives of the People's militia detachments met with its commander Alexander Dubcek and presented an ultimatum: either he changes the policy manual, or August 22 The people's militia to gain control of all the important facilities, will take power into their own hands, will shift him from the post of general secretary and require the party Congress convened. Dubcek listened to them, but nothing concrete has been said. The main thing he did not tell his subordinate commanders in person armed groups party about the ultimatum, he had received in Cierna nad Tisou on the GDR leaders, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and the USSR. Apparently, something expected. And when Warsaw Pact troops invaded in Czechoslovakia on August 21, the management teams and the rank and file Communists thought it was an insult. They believed that they could do to cope with the situation in the country, without entering foreign troops. Experience has shown that when they overestimated their strength. Only after the defeat of the opposition in August 1969 for a long time opponents of the regime have gone into hiding.
The attitude of the local population
The first time the attitude of the local population to the military of the Commonwealth countries was poor. Intoxicated hostile propaganda, duplicitous behavior of the first persons of the state, the lack of information about the true reasons for the invasion, and sometimes intimidated by local opposition, people not only looked askance at foreign soldiers. The machines were flying stones, the night the troops fired on the location of small arms. Roads were torn down signs and signs on the walls of houses painted with slogans such as "Occupants, go home!", "Strela occupier!" And so on. N.
Sometimes troops secretly visited by locals and asked why the Soviet troops arrived. And the right would have come some Russian, and then another, and "Caucasians" from the "narrow-eyed" with a lead. In the heart of Europe (!) People were surprised that the Soviet army is multinational.
The actions of the opposition forces
entry of Allied troops showed Czech opposition forces and their foreign instigators, that hopes to seize power collapsed. However, they decided not to give up, and called for armed resistance. In addition to attacks on vehicles, helicopters and places of deployment of allied forces began the terrorist acts against the Czech Workers Party organs and intelligence personnel. Tonight's edition of the British newspaper "Sunday Times" of August 27, published an interview with one of the underground leaders. It is reported that in August "underground numbered about 40 thousand people, armed with automatic weapons." A significant part of the weapons had been secretly placed in the West, especially from Germany. However, they failed to take advantage.
In the first days after the entry of the allied forces, in cooperation with Czech security bodies of the many hiding places and cellars of several thousand rifles were seized, hundreds of machine guns and grenade launchers. even mortars were found. Thus, even in the Prague House of Journalists, which are run by extremely opposition figures, 13 machine guns were found 81 assault rifle and 150 boxes of ammunition. At the beginning of 1969 in the Tatra Mountains finished concentration camp was discovered. Who built it and for whom, at the time was unknown.
The information-psychological war
Another indication of the existence of Czechoslovakia in organized anti-constitutional forces is the fact that as early as 8 hours of August 21 in all regions of the country have started to work underground station, on some days up to 30-35 units. Used not only radio stations, pre-installed on motor vehicles, trains, and in secret shelters, but also the equipment captured in MoEHE bodies, in cooperation with the offices of the Union Army (like the DOSAAF of the USSR), in large-scale agriculture. Underground radio transmitters were integrated into the system, which determines the time and duration of the work. capture group showed a working radio station deployed in homes, hidden in the vaults of the leaders of the various organizations. There were also radio in special suitcases along with tables for the waves at different times of the day. Keep the antenna attached to the station and work. Radio stations and four television channels underground spreading false information, rumors, calls for the destruction of troops of the Allied forces, sabotage, sabotage. They passed the encrypted data and code signals for the underground forces.
In the "chorus" good fit transmitters West 701 th battalion of psychological warfare.
Soviet radiorazvedchiki at first surprised that a number of anti-government stations bearing the west, but their guesses September 8 confirmed the "Stern" magazine (Germany). Magazine reported that on 23 August the newspaper "Literarni sheets", and for her, and underground radio reported that "Allied troops fired at the children's hospital at Charles Square. Broken windows, ceilings, expensive medical equipment ... "German TV reporter rushed to the area, but the hospital building was unscathed. According to the magazine "Stern", "this false information was passed not to a Czech, and a West German territory." The magazine noted that the events of these days, "provided an ideal opportunity for practical training of 701 Battalion."
If the first leaflet with the message on how to enter the allied troops released the official authoritative or party bodies and printers, then follow any output was not. In many cases, texts and calls in different parts of the country are the same.
change of scenery
slowly, but the situation has changed.
Central Forces group was formed, the Soviet army units began to settle in excepted for their Czech military camps, where the chimneys were filled with bricks, drainage clogged, and the glass shattered. In April 1969, Alexander Dubcek was replaced by Gustav Husak, gave way to the country's leadership. Emergency laws were adopted, which, in particular, featured Russian fist "worth" up to three months of imprisonment, and to provoke a fight with the Russian - six. At the end of 1969 in the garrisons, where construction battalion built housing, troops were allowed to bring family. Construction of housing for the families continued until 1972.
So, what are the "occupiers" who sacrificed their lives in order not killed civilians, failed to meet a shot at the most brazen provocation, unknown to them saved people from violence? Who lived in the hangars and warehouses, beds and even in the officers and women (for nurses, typists, waitresses) hostels, stood in two tiers? Who preferred not to act like soldiers, but as agitators, explaining the situation to the population and their problems?
Writing in Czechoslovakia troops of the Warsaw Pact countries was a forced measure, aimed at preserving the unity of the socialist countries, as well as the exit warning NATO troops on the borders of the USSR.
Soviet soldiers were not occupiers and did not behave as invaders. No matter how pathetic it sounds, but in August 1968 they were defending their country at the forefront of the socialist camp. Army set goals were achieved with minimal losses.
No matter what modern political scientists, but in that situation the government of the USSR and other socialist countries have decided to adequate the situation. Even the current generation of Czechs should be grateful to the Soviet army, because the Sudetenland remained part of Czechoslovakia and the state exists in its present borders.
But what is interesting and raises questions.
The soldiers, who were the first (!) Were called "soldiers-internationalists", those not recognized in Russia, although the order of the Minister of Defense Marshal Grechko number 242 of 17/10/1968, the he was thanked for the fulfillment of international duty. Minister of Defense Order № 220 from 07.05.1990, the "List of countries, cities, areas and periods of warfare with the participation of the citizens of the Russian Federation" has been added the Republic of Cuba. For unknown reasons, Czechoslovakia (only!) In the list was not included, and, as a consequence, the relevant documents have been handed over to ex-servicemen, which fulfilled their international duty in the country.
repeatedly at different levels discussed, admit it or not involved in the operation as an international soldiers and war veterans.
A team of scientists analyzed the available materials for the study and after meetings with the direct participants of the events in Czechoslovakia, said that "in 1968 in Czechoslovakia was carried out perfectly planned and perfectly implemented forces military operation, during which it conducted military operations. Both in terms of military science and the real situation of employment of forces and means. " And the soldiers and officers who have completed their duty in carrying out "Operation Danube" have every right to be called soldiers-internationalists, and fall under the category of "combatant".
However, the Russian Ministry of Defense does not recognize them as such, and the questions and the treatment of regional organizations involved in the operation "Danube" says that there were "only skirmish", and thanks to them declared for the "execution of international duty," and not for participating in hostilities.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has included Czechoslovakia in the relevant list, and the country's president issued a decree number 180/2004 of 11.02.2004, "On the day of celebration of the combatants in other states." According to the decree, former soldiers and officers who took part in the defense of sotszavoevany in Czechoslovakia in 1968, established the status of "Member of hostilities", "war veteran", and granted benefits under the Law of Ukraine "On Status of War Veterans, guarantees of their social protection" .
To date, the youngest participants in "Operation Danube" already 64 years old, and their ranks every year have become less frequent. Recently, according to the author, an appeal only Rostov organization involved in the operation "Danube" was sent to the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation in January this year. Let's wait that the new minister will respond.