Hot Debate

Členové Ústředního výboru Komunistické strany Československa, (Národní archiv, 1968)/
Members of Central Comitee of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, (National Archive, 1968)

Prague, 25 June 1968 – Note from the discussion at the 80th meeting of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia’s Central Committee Board

Alois Indra: What we’ve convinced ourselves of pains me. Our standpoint has to be clear for any further advancement. We’re on very thin ice if we don’t let the Social Democrats set themselves up. They have a lot against us — they’ve been registering with the National Front, accepting the leading role of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, professing allegiance to the Soviet Union. It may look like the Ministry of the Interior’s problem, but it’s actually outside the law. It’s quite a violent conclusion; it has to come to a political decision. This is not an insignificant adversary that we have before us. We don’t take issue with the former Social Democrats, but instead with people who are just using the banner of Social Democracy.

I don’t think we should officially negotiate with them. We’ll convince them that we consider them to be partners. It’s about action that’s supposed to provoke us. I’m not sure that State Security didn’t take part in it, but I couldn’t say how it appears from this scope.

We do take issue with organized movements. Certain circles in the world are interested in keeping development here from succeeding. I’d like to get rid of this movement before it gets any bigger.


Prague, 4 July 1968 — Evžen Erban, Zdeněk Mlynář, and Bohumil Šimon from the Board of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia’s Central Committee

A meeting took place about this situation … the main result of which is a semi-official agreement, stating that the Social Democratic Preparatory Committee must not appear in public or put together press campaigns, and must consult with Communist Party officials before every fundamental decision, and for times when the situation in the Communist Party is tense (namely, until the 14th Party Congress), not undertake further basic steps.

… It now seems that for the time being, there’s already been a definite reversal, and that the efforts to renew the Social Democratic Party and its acceptance in the public are beginning to weaken.


1968, 25. červen, Praha. – Poznámky z diskuse na 80. schůzi předsednictva ÚV KSČ o situaci mezi bývalými sociálními demokraty/ 1968, 25 June, Prague – Notes from the discussion at the 80th meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia about the situation with the former Social Democrats.
VONDROVÁ, Jitka – NAVRÁTIL, Jaromír (vyd.): Komunistická strana Československa. Ediční řada Prameny k dějinám československé krize v letech 1967-1970, 9. díl, 2. svazek: Konsolidace (květen-srpen1968). Praha-Brno, ÚSD-Doplněk 2000, dok. č. 99, s. 149.
Available in Czech at:

1968, 4. červenec, Praha. – Evžen Erban, Zdeněk Mlynář a Bohumil Šimon předsednictvu ústředního výboru KSČ/ Prague, 4 July 1968 – Evžen Erban, Zdeněk Mlynář, and Bohumil Šimon from the Board of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia’s Central Committee.
In: PECKA, Jindřich – BELDA, Josef – HOPPE, Jiří (vyd.): Občanská společnost 1967-1970. Ediční řada Prameny k dějinám československé krize v letech 1967-1970, 2. díl, 2. svazek: Sociální organismy a hnutí Pražského jara. Praha-Brno, ÚSD-Doplněk 1998, dok. č. 26, s. 66-72.
Available in Czech at:

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  • What is the Communist Party leadership’s opinion with regard to the possible creation of other political parties?
  • Why do the members of the Central Committee refuse to permit the formation of the Social Democratic party? Try to think about the reasons that they do not explicitly mention.
  • Watch the video Milkman not Agent, and compare the messages about the Prague Spring from the two of them. What new information do you get from this document? Does anything surprise you? Why or why not?


One of the manifestations of the Prague Spring was the awakening of civil society, including, for example, the creation or restoration of independent political movements.

With this issue, however, the clear limits of democratisation were shown by the fact that even the new Communist Party leadership did not allow the emergence of other political parties.

The Social Democratic movement had its roots in the Czech lands in the 19th century, and during the interwar period, the Social Democratic Party was among the major political parties in Czechoslovakia. At the end of the 1940s, during the period of the Stalinist revolution in Czechoslovakia, it was forcibly merged with the Communist Party (Show trials).

In 1968, however, its former members and sympathisers began to seek its recovery and in the spring formed a preparatory committee and held meetings. This initiative came mainly from the ground up.

The text is an excerpt from the minutes of the meeting of the supreme body of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. People who were a symbol of democratisation and reform, such as Alexander Dubček (Politician in a swimsuit), made it clear that the one-party political system would persist, and that the former social democrats’ expectations of democratisation were unfounded. The “leading role of the Communist Party” had been declared in the constitution, just like in the other Eastern bloc countries, and the role of other parties that were allowed to exist was absolutely minimal. This was a line that even the reformist wing within the Communist Party could not cross. No other parties could be formed.

This resistance was also an expression of fear of the reaction of the Soviet Union, which might see the emergence of other political parties outside the current system as a betrayal of communism that could not be tolerated. Furthermore, the reformists in the Central Committee were not sure if they had the trust of the entire Party, so their speculation about State Security’s role in the whole development, i.e., proposing the initiative, could be just an instructed provocation. Thus, in order to not provoke the Soviet Union, social democratic politicians abandoned the attempt to restore the party in the summer of 1968, although this of course had no effect on the Soviet Union’s decision to invade (1968 – Invasion).