Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"The Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia (November 17, 1989) as a Political Theater (and Why Its Makers Consider Us, the Audience, Stupid)--Part III

This is the third installment from the material I put together nearly twenty years ago. This segment describes how the "Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia in November of 1989 was organized, staged, and carried out--clearly as a joint special operation of the East and the West, thus blindsiding or "wiping out" the eyes of the whole nation, regardless whether anti- or pro-communist.

The communist elites had prepared and elaborated contingencies for such a forthcoming change of the regime (well, unless one is ready to conciliate oneself with a belief in a death-wish or complete ignorance on the part of the Communist regime). In this respect, Milan Uhde's explanation of the inquisition trial of the Czech priest Jan Hus can be applied more properly and without any modification to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 in Czechoslovakia:

Let us understand it well: among the highest representatives ... of power there were also supporters of remedy and purification. Being realistic politicians, they, however, knew well that the remedy should be organized, and to organize it is up to the leadership, otherwise a chaos would arise.[1]

            After the XVIIth congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1986, when the party leadership also realized its own rapidly growing unpopularity within the party itself, the Ministry of the Interior was charged with a task of preparing a plan of its activities within a given time horizon, being that of 1990. As Lorenc later stated, the main line of "new" activities stemmed from the "already clear" further course dictated by foreign factors and, thus, also from "the foreseen changes in internal politics of the state" [my italics]; in this regard, an "opening-up of the country" as if from inside was defined as the crucial direction.[2] According to Lorenc, at the same time, the minister of interior Vajnar already announced in a consultation meeting on the new strategy a "political character of the expected changes."[3] The first post-Communist Interior Minister, Richard Sachr, commented these preparatory measures by the Communist police as follows:

On one side there was a conservative leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, on the other the state police (StB) with an ability to analyze the current development and estimate its tendencies. In the last period of the totalitarian regime it was apparent (sic) that some sectors of the police tried to distance themselves (sic) from some imprudent steps made by the political leadership.[4]

            The new wave of Czech public leaders was generally recruited from among the signatories of the Charter '77.  However, as generally acknowledged, without powerful extraneous inputs and additional fostering, Charter '77, self-defined as apolitical and non-oppositional, had very limited capabilities for any large-scale action; and of the 217 first signatories of Charter '77, 156 were ex-Communist Party members.[5] According to Kotas,  "Charter 77 was the brain-child of some prominent personalities of 1968,"  that is, then leading communist nomenklatura cadres who were also closely tied to the period of the 1950s or what Kotas called "a profound anti-democratic past."[6] In other words, the decade of the 1950s appeared as all too long a period in the modern history of Czechoslovakia with a striking political perseverance of its personalities well over 1989 and through all hitherto transformations. Or as Havel himself put it: "For my part ... I shall always be in some sense linked to the pseudodialectical tension between dictatorship and the thaw, between Stalinism and de-Stalinization ..."[7] 
In 1986, when apparently selected groups in the Czechoslovak secret police started working on the "new political changes" to come by 1990, the Charter 77 did not progress in any tangible way. There was a stagnant pool of signatories of around 1800. Its broader influence was without any "visible success."[8] Lorenc thus concluded that by 1986, when he personally started to deal with this area of police interest, the Charter "was more calling for opposition than being it itself;" it was "politically and socially isolated;" its real active members counted only several dozens, concentrated almost exclusively in Prague. Lorenc also confirmed that the secret police was present from the very beginning within the Charter, and police agents were among the first signatories, while the police network of dissidents was "incessantly supplied." As a result, the secret police "had an ability to influence the Charter to a certain extent." In this regard, the goal of the police was not the liquidation of the oppositionist groups or Charter 77 because "the activity of the Charter or the former Communists, if limited to isolated groups, represented no danger." In November 1985, Havel already announced his future role as a new political leader about whose "very concrete" intentions he, however, refused to speak because their premature revelation could thwart their realization.[9] In 1986, when the police coincidentally received a new strategy for the period till 1990 and was charged with its elaboration, new tendencies appeared on the part of the Charter 77 as well.[10] If in 1986 there were only six oppositionist groups in Czechoslovakia, in 1988, their number was already 47 and by the middle of 1989 sixty with the police "having a good control over their activities" and 'trying to have their agents in each group."[11] Lorenc also asserted that "it was the secret police themselves that supported later founding of some of these 'independent' groups.[12] It is also necessary to note that after 1989, some of the prominent new leaders appeared as having been registered sometime in the past as "candidates for the collaboration with the secret police," including Vaclav Havel, Michal Kocab (a rock musician, Havel's close friend and negotiator of the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Czechoslovakia), Zdena Skvorecka-Salivarova (a wife of the writer Skvorecky and herself a writer), a post-1989 deputy Moldan (an advisor to Havel and close friend of Pithart, who also threatened the Czechoslovak journalists with letting check and expose their links with the police due to his disliking some of the news coverage), Vladimir Meciar, the post-1989 Slovak Prime Minister, and others. In this regard, Vaclav Havel admitted publicly that the police were trying to recruit him from the 1950s, and that he was registered as a candidate in 1965 - for three months.[13] Coincidentally, the category of "candidate for collaboration" was afterwards effaced from the law on screening the functionaries on their possible links with the Communist secret police.[14] Lorenc commented: "About 3000 candidates for secret collaboration also cooperated with the counter-intelligence, they were prepared for agents. Those were assigned different controlling tasks for establishing their abilities and loyalty."[15]
In addition, the phenomenon of the governmental Institute of Forecasting also deserves some attention in this regard because a group of the leading Czech politicians were after the take-over of 1989 recruited from the cadres of this single institute: Vaclav Klaus, the Czech Prime Minister since mid-1992, father of the economic reform and privatisation and also the leader of the ruling party the Civic Democratic Party; Valter Komarek, the first post-1989 Czechoslovak Deputy Prime Minister and former director of the institute, ; Vladimir Dlouhy, the Czechoslovak and later Czech minister of economy and planning, who was previously a deputy director of the institute; and the current leader of the Czechoslovak Social-Democratic Party and since June 1996 the Chairman of the Czech Parliament. The last three economists were members of the Communist Party till December 1989. Komarek and Dlouhy were as Communists also delegated to the first post-Communist Czechoslovak government (Dlouhy was a chairman of the Communist party organization at the institute). In the past, Valter Komarek, also one of those Czech politicians who were born in the USSR, had distinguished himself as an advisor to Fidel Castro in the early 1970s - roughly at a time when Dlouhy was sent to study at a Catholic university in Belgium. Interestingly, Mr. Koecher, a top spy of the Czechoslovak Communist regime, was also assigned to this institute, after his disclosure by the CIA and imprisonment in the USA and later a short assignment to the intelligence unit on the USA at the Czechoslovak Ministry of the Interior. After the Velvet Revolution, Koecher worked as an economic advisor to Vaclav Havel. Coincidentally, prior to the Velvet Revolution, the Prognostication Institute was also known and referred to by intelligence officers as "Strougal's institute." Lubomir Strougal, in 1959 at the age of 34, was propelled as the youngest member ever into the Czechoslovak Communist government as Minister of Agriculture. In 1962, he personally assisted in arresting the then Interior Minister Rudolf Barak and became Interior Minister himself. In April 1968, he became one of the Deputy Premiers in Cernik's "Prague Spring" government. In August 1968, he chaired the emergency government sessions in Prague during the absence of detained leaders and issued a strong condemnation of the invasion. The post-1968 inquisition committees did not touch him - on the contrary, he was rewarded for his behaviour by receiving the post of Czechoslovak Prime Minister while those how supported his appeal condemning the invasion were punished by being deprived of their jobs, children's prospect to study, homes etc. In the period 1973-1975, during the illness of the then president Ludvik Svoboda, he acted as the de facto head of Czechoslovakia. As Kotas also revealed, Strougal "personally ensured that the anti-Charter repression after 1977 did not cross certain limits."[16]

            By 1989, developments began accelerating in the whole of Eastern Europe, as well as in Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Zajicek, a former chief of the department dealing with police matters of the Party Central Committee, confirmed that, upon an order of his superior R. Hegenbart, a political and security overhaul of the country was drafted in early February 1989. In May 1989, the security apparatus made a final conclusion that the then communist state and party leadership had virtually no use value for delivering the change required.[17] There are also some other indications that May 1989 was the threshold at which the former power-brokers made their final decisions and the lines were drawn.[18] In the summer, Pavel Tigrid, a leading anticommunist emigrant, wrote in his journal Svedectvi in the summer of 1989 that Havel was to be president, not Dubcek.[19] At this time, the existing Communist leadership was transferred  on the list of its expandable assets by Moscow that needed a peace in this part of Europe": the Secretary General of the party, Milos Jakes, was not allegedly denied a reception by Gorbachev who was said not to accept even Jakes's  telephone greetings during a vacation in the USSR in the summer 1989. Shortly after, a videotape and cassette with a compromising speech of Jakes delivered at a closed Communist meeting in Cerveny Hradek was released to the public with a mediation of the Charter 77 (Sasa Vondra). It seems quite probable that on this very occasion, Jakes himself was either drunk or drugged.[20]

This was followed by a visit of Lorenc to Moscow in September 1989 where Lorenc met with the highest men of the KGB, including its chairman Krjuckov, both first deputies of Krjuckov and the chief of counter-intelligence Grusko. Hegenbart, the highest party executive dealing with police matters, later said that at that time Lorenc proposed to him a "pact" against the nominal Communist leadership.

This was also followed by an appearance of the so-called initiative MOST (written all in capital letters like another 'initiative' STUHA - coincidentally also the practice used by the ministry of interior for coding its own actions, as evidenced in the referred book by Alojz Lorenc). This initiative MOST (meaning "bridge") represented by a rock musician Michael Kocab and Michal Horacek, a journalist, is essentially a story of how a part of the Communist establishment found a "bridge" to personal contacts with the "official" dissent.[21] This rapid succession of events was wounded up by the Soviet-American summit in Malta (actually on a US navy ship) in December 1989 wrapped up in a slogan "from Yalta to Malta."[22] The development progressed to such an extent that, in early November 1989, dissident Jiri Krizan could report to Sasa Vondra, the current first deputy foreign minister of the Czech Republic, that "signs of dialogue had appeared: Evzen Erban [a member of the highest political circle of the regime] had invited Havel to an obscure party (with his wife in the role of an oriental dancer!)."[23] In October 1989, Pavel Bratinka, a dissident to become a deputy foreign minister, announced on  a forum in Italy that the regime would soon collapse, and that then Communist leader M. Jakes would be succeeded by K. Urbanek - that also happened.[24] The leadership of the Communist party actually knew at least two weeks ahead about the foreseen massive manifestations in Prague that materialized after November 17, 1989.[25] In addition, they also correctly estimated beforehand the number of participants in the manifestation at 50,000.[26]
The official demonstration of 17 November 1989 was organized, legitimized and logistically secured by the Prague organization of the Union of Socialist Youth, whose leader Vasil Mohorita was then a member of the highest ruling communist circle and, later, one of the leaders of the post-November communist party. As Karel Steigerwald, one of the protagonist of the velvet take-over, put it, not only was the procession of students led "according to the police plans," but also the leadership of the Communist youth organization carried out "a remarkable role of the Trojan horse."[27] As the then leader of the Union of the Social Youth, Martin Ulcak said:

Together with the university council of Prague and independent students [mostly dissidents' children], we had prepared the action for quite a good time ahead ... Three days before it [was to take place] we were even told that this manifestation could be culmination point in the development of this state ... This became even a slogan, almost all the [high] functionaries kept saying: 'Beware of it ... it could also be a complete tragedy.[28]
            The co-organizer cryptically named "STUHA" (presumably derived from two Czech words denoting "student movement") did not represent more than a handful of students who were the children of famous Czech dissidents (Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek). STUHA was "founded" in two meetings on September 28, 1989 and October 9, 1989 - coincidentally after Lorenc had returned from his visit to Moscow. The first "conspiratory" session took place in a restaurant - it was a public secret that all Prague restaurants were under watch of the StB. Soon after the foundation of STUHA, these self-appointed representatives managed to have "negotiations" in cafes with the university council of the Communist youth organization of Prague (Vladena Mejtska and Martin Mejstrik who after November 17, 1989, changed the "sides" and led the student strike).

STUHA was immediately accepted by these junior representatives of the regime as a legitimate partner for the action whose "legality" would take care of the Communist youth organization. The only purpose of this strange grouping STUHA, as later turned out, was the facilitation of the manifestation of November 17, 1989. Among the public, STUHA itself remained largely an unknown entity. On November 9, 1989, the selected members of STUHA met with the "whole representation" of the Prague leadership of the Communist youth organization (Martin Ulcak, Jan Dahnel, Jiri Jaskmanicky, Martin Mejstrik and others). There it was "agreed" (sic) that in Prague prior the planed manifestation," all prohibitive measures be lifted for the success of the action. Understandably, none of these "negotiators" had a mandate to do so. Such a facilitation of the action could come only as a blessing from the highest Communist leadership.[29]

             The participation in the demonstration was really massive, perhaps also because many activists and members of the Communist youth organization were summoned there by their youth activists and leaders.[30] Coincidentally, the demonstration was then led towards Wenceslas Square along a curious detour of several miles, winding up on National Boulevard, where the head of the march was cut off and several hundred people were severely beaten by the police. By that time, the great majority of the marchers (including most communist youth activists) had already gone home. The police had been ready, waiting for their victims at the 'rendez-vous' several hours before the demonstrators had even started to gather in distant Visehrad; coincidentally, the doors of the neighbouring houses had been also locked well in advance.

A StB lieutenant, Ruzicka/Zifcak, was one of those who headed the demonstration towards National Boulevard, where he pretended to succumb to the violence of his colleagues and posed himself as dead.[31] A short-lived but crucial myth of a murdered student and, thus, the take-over was born on the basis of the emotional (false) appeal and the public relations of actors.[32] On November 17, 1989, probably for the first time in the history of the regime, the Czechoslovak Ministry of the Interior was evacuated by its highest management, and for the first time, its analytical department did not have to make any analysis - the situation was apparently sufficiently clear beforehand to the top, and nothing else was required in this regard.[33] Except for a small number of "official" dissidents (one of them, Vaclav Benda, later claimed that he was during the manifestation as "usually" tapping in to the StB from his presumably StB-tapped apartment),[34] all of them left Prague for about one day. Immediately, theatres were turned into an emergency stage for  closing down the Communist regime, and "student guards" appeared at entrances to university facilities. Evidently, the strategy was well poised to effectively mobilize and respond to the cultural and behavioral patterns of the Czechs. For a while, the Czech anthem and symbolism were revived with ardour. Three years later, Czech enthusiasm and pride were muffled as 'untimely' or potentially disruptive in dissolving the federation without a people's vote. As Lorenc stressed, "the philosophy of the intelligence services" lies in "efforts to arrange things in such a way that deliberately prepared things should appear on the surface as phenomena of normal life, or as coincidences; what matters is to unveil regularity in coincidental phenomena."[35]

            Interestingly, Soviet lieutenant-general Teslenko was present in the police headquarters of the operation, while Alojz Lorenc was permanently on the telephone in the presence of a Soviet delegation headed by general V. Grusko, the chief of the second directory of the KGB and deputy chairman of the KGB. The Soviet delegation departed from Prague on November 18, 1989[36] - and Czechoslovakia was about to leave the Soviet Empire as its asset was to be entrusted into Havel's hands as its care-taker. As Michaels Simmons, a personal acquaintance of Havel and his biographer put it:

In a moment, when Gorbachev placed an unbounded full power (sic) into Havel's hands, he might retreat and let Havel cope with this situation. At one time, future historians will have to examine carefully what and by whose hand was written on the other side of this authorization, but the confidence and determination of Havel and others at the time when the revolutionary flow was moving towards one apparently unproblematic goal, indicate that Mikhail Gorbachev was merely one of those who quietly supported all this from Moscow.[37]

            In this way, Simmons claims that the Soviet leadership, including the KGB and the Warsaw Pact command, prevented an "uncontrollable" development in Prague and "curbed" the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia. Understandably, the most precarious thing was to exclude the possibility of having the velvet take-over suppressed by the action of the army generally suspected as the force most loyal to the state.[38] Thus, it seems that, during the takeover, the Soviets and police security were most concerned with keeping close watch over the army - their nominal former ally. Coincidentally, Rudolf Hegenbart, the then chief of the 13th department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (responsible for internal affairs), later told the Parliamentary committee that he too was at the time of the regime forthcoming collapse busy entertaining a delegation from the USSR - allegedly, somewhere outside Prague.[39] Hegenbart, assuming the stature of an eminence gris, frequently figures prominently in the annals of the revolution.[40] It may be noted in this regard that a second parliamentary committee for the investigation of the mystery of the "velvet" takeover conspicuously denied and avoided some of the most striking facts pointing towards the involvement or presence of the KGB, as established by the first parliamentary committee.[41]

Danisz, who later appeared on the lists of StB agents, was quoted as advising his colleagues in the Parliamentary Committee: "Vasek Havel once told me: You should keep your hands off this Hegenbart, he has done for you [plural in Czech] so much that one day, when we tell it all, you will be astonished. For the time being, we have to keep silent."[42] Similarly, another lawyer-member of the committee, Motejl, stated that Vaclav Havel told him already in December 1989: "Hegenbart is not so bad as those others."[43] During further discussions in the Parliamentary Committee investigating the 17th of November 1989, Danisz was obliged to reinforce his argument:

Somebody needed that [things] change here ... That we avoided a bloodshed like that in Romania, is a credit to  the one who organized the coup ... But are you guys crazy?  To be sure, we received freedom completely free of charge,  in comparison with others. Why should we sue someone, who gave us such a push, for a few broken bones? ... You cannot find the truth anyway. It is too early for it. It could damage many myths ... Myths are sometimes very constructive and useful [my italics].[44]

And again later:

Guys, you should understand that if it turned out that this revolution was made by Lorenc and Hegenbart, it would impair a good thing. There is no sense in breaking myths prematurely. People believe that it is the work of students and the Civic Forum, so why should we take these beliefs away from them? ... Vasek Havel will not be happy if Hegenbart too is to be compromised.[45]

            Moreover, according to Karel Steigerwald, an actor of the velvet pass-over, "in the most critical moment, it was Ladislav Adamec (Czechoslovak Communist Prime Minister) who played a very important role ," "reminding [Steigerwald] of Heinrich Himmler." This Adamec's role consisted in inviting a delegation of the Civic Forum created in the evening on November 19, 1989 to a meeting on November 21, 1989, when understandably only a limited number of people knew at all about this new political formation.[46] In a crucial time, an intervention of the new Communist leader, Karel Urbanek in the favour of the dissidents' demands effectively undermined the line of the last defence of the government.[47]

            On 29 December 1989, the Communist Czechoslovak Parliament elected unanimously - at "gun point" of the TV cameras -  Vaclav Havel for president after the calls for a people's vote had been rejected with arguments that it would be "too  complicated," "untimely" or "costly."[48] Similar arguments were later used for preventing a referendum on the breakup of the country. It was clear that at that time Havel would hardly be the people's choice. The parallels in this regard are ominous and reveal one pattern of cowardice and its continuity on the part of the elite and its inability to have any stable content of their own even if it were at least a matter of personal dignity. The message is quite evident: the elite's value or pride is not to have any; it is Heidegger's imperative of standpoint without standpoint in the Böhmisch practice. Slavomir Ravik summarized:

So, the post-February parliament with the same composition and opposition deputies approved the [victorious Communist] government of Gottwald [after the Communist take-over in 1948]. Then, twenty years later, one and the same assembly applauded the new government of Cernik, excelled by an incessant session during the [Soviet] occupation [in 1968], then approved the same occupation, commanded the changes in the government, and welcomed A. Dubcek only to dissociate themselves from him and to play its tragic role until the end. And so in the same way, the post-November parliament, complemented by adopted deputies, elected ... Vaclav Havel as president as it would have voted for Ladislav Adamec or Alexander Dubcek.[49]

            Communism in Czechoslovakia, as well in other Eastern European countries thus ceased to exist in the fast pace of developments. However, neither the Czechs nor the Slovaks appeared to be lucky in the same measure when, on 1 January 1993, they found themselves without their common state, being fenced off in two different entities, with their manifest, yet not prevailing wills in support of the common state not considered. While the authorities asserted that the Slovaks had never really identified themselves with Czechoslovakia (Havel, Pithart, Klaus), nevertheless, several years after the breakup, around sixty percent of Slovaks kept preferring a common federation with the Czechs.[50] And during the last Czechoslovak elections of 1992, even the Slovak nationalist party (SNS) did not advocate a split of the country. In fact, no party had a breakup in its program, nor had the two victorious republican parties of Klaus and Meciar who, immediately after the elections, confronted the people with the fait accompli of their new agenda. Nick Thorpe, a Canadian correspondent, noted that a wide-spread "nostalgia for Czechoslovakia was evident at the very start of the Czech Republic ... Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the father of the Czechoslovak state in 1918 must be turning in his grave at recent developments."[51]

            In this light, Danisz's thesis about freedom given to the people of Czechoslovakia "for nothing and free" may be reconsidered. In particular, Havel himself later invalidated Danisz's maxim in his New Year's address to the nation on January 1, 1994 by stating that the division of Czechoslovakia was "a levy for us to pay for our post-November freedom."[52] Importantly, however, there was a conspicuous unwillingness to reveal the nature of the "levy" for the nation to pay both on the part of the former power-holders and the new ones. As Bartuska put it,  none of these old or new politicians "was interested in the truth," irrespective of their Communist or post-Communist labels. Bartuska concluded: "When the new ruler conceals the practices of his predecessor it is high time to think."[53] The truth of the split as a levy or rent to be paid was also indicated by Ivan Svitak, the Marxist insightful foreteller of the changes: "Whoever thinks of November 1989 as a local phenomenon without global connection with the superpowers is a calibrated ass."[54]

All this raises for all us the very crucial question posed by Barry Cooper with regard to nihilism and its "ass-worshipping" by the Last Men: Who is stupid? What is serious? And can the stupid (ass) rule?[55]

1 [1] Milan Uhde, Ceska republiko, dobry den, (Praha: Atlantis, 1995), p. 160.
2 [2] See Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p. 119.
3 [3] Ibid., p. 120. Italics added.
4 [4] Ibid., p. 13.
5 [5] See ibid.., pp. 8, 97. Thus, according to the Declaration of the Charter 77 of January 1, 1977, "With regard to the alleged contesting of the leading role of the Communist party (article 4 of the Constitution), it is necessary to state explicitly that there is no single statement made by the Charter that would alow such an interpretation ... The leading role of the party is, of course, not only compatible with but it can even be based on respecting human rights ..."[Kniha Charty, Hlasy z domova 1976/1977,  (Koln:  Index,1977), p. 166]
6 [6] Jiri V. Kotas, Czechoslovakia's Crossroads in the Twentieth Century (a personal essay), op. cit., pp. 34-35.
7 [7] Antonin J. Liehm, eds., The Politics of Culture,  (New York: Grove Press, 1968), p. 389. Havel, who, as we have seen, hailed himself repeatedly for the incredible infallibility of his opinions after 1989, also stated: "I was always in favour of socialism in the sense of nationalization of major means of production. Perhaps it may seem like opportunism for me to say this today, or then again perhaps not ..." [Ibid., p. 380] Some of the leading politicians whose political profiles began being formed in the Stalinist 1950s and who reemerged as new political leaders of the nation after 1989 include M. Uhde, a chairman of the Czech parliament who was one the main "negotiators" of the breakup;  Z. Jicinsky, a leading member of the parliament who was a co-author of the Communist constitution of 1960, the constitutional act of 1968 (federation) and constitutional documents after 1989; Pavel Rychetsky, an expert on the Communist law, and Ladislav Lis who in the 1950s participated in the campaign against the "Zionist traitors" and after 1989 was instrumental in undermining the defence ministry. [See Miroslav Vacek, Proc bych mel mlcet,  (Praha: NADAS, 1991), pp. 89-90] Alojz Lorenc also confirmed that the "purges" on the Ministry of the Interior after 1989 were directed and carried out by people who served with the secret police in the 1950s. [Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu: Neskartovane vzpominky generala Lorence, op. cit., p. 182] Additionally, Kotas also observed that the leaders from the Prague Spring of 1968 were also recruited from the cadres of the 1950s. [Jiri V. Kotas, Czechoslovakia's Crossroads in the Twentieth Century (a personal essay), p. 27] Pithart justified this remarkable tenacity of the Communist cadres from the 1950s in the following way: "without their experience (sic) with the functioning of the power mechanisms, which nothing can substitute, any more broadly founded protest movement would soon become extinct." [Petr Pithart, Dejiny a politika, op. cit., p. 312]
8 [8] Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit.,  p. 97.
9 [9] Vaclav Havel, Do ruznych stran (1983-1989), (Stockholm: Expedice, 1989), pp. 158-159.
10[10] Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p. 98. Lorenc's evaluation was confirmed by H. Gordon Skilling, a Canadian expert on Czechoslovakia with close connections with the dissidents, see H.Gordon Skilling, Samizdat and an Independent Society in Central and Eastern Europe, (Colombus: Ohio State University Press, 1989), p. 39: thus, on the eve of the Velvet Revolution he himself saw the dissident culture living in a "kind of ghetto, almost unknown to the general public" that, however also isolated the public from a better insight into the nature of their programs. The limited scope of clout on the part of the Charter was also acknowledged by the dissidents themselves, moreover, expressing this in the same way as Lorenc: "the range of influence of the Charter is limited, the number of signatories is stagnating ... (1987)." [Vojtech Mencl, Milos Hajek, Milan Otahal and Erika Kadlecova, Krizovatky 20. stoleti: Svetlo na bila mista v nejnovejsich dejinach, op. cit., p. 335] The same vision of the Charter 77 as an "isolated ghetto" by other dissidents-organizers of the Charter 77, see also Karel and Ivan Kyncl, Po jaru prisla zima: aneb Zamysleni nad vlastni knizkou o Charte 77,  (Praha: Art Servis,1990), pp. 80, 81, 111. On the "elitist" character of the Charter 77 see ibid., p. 164; on its background see ibid., pp. 159-164. On the expectation of the changes within the Charter as early as 1980, that were to happen in 1988 or 1989, see ibid., p. 179.
11[11] Alojz Lorenc., Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p. 99.
12[12] Ibid., p. 99.
13[13] See Slavomir Ravik, Bylo nebylo v listopadu 1993,, (Praha: Alternativy, 1993), p. 42; Slavomir Ravik, Totalni deziluze, (Praha: Prazska imaginace, 1992), pp. 48-49, 74;  In this regard, Havel declared that for a person, who is unveiled to the public as an agent, "the whole world collapses" even "if he did not do anything." [Slavomir Ravik, Bylo Nebylo v prosinci 1993, (Praha: Alternativy, 1993), p. 43] As a matter of fact, approximately at the same time, in 1965, Havel was "invited to join" a progressive cultural journal  Tvar, however, under a condition that he join the official Writers' Union, to which Havel replied: "I knew all this - no one had tried to hide the utilitarian aspects of the invitation - and I accepted because, as I quickly found out after a few preliminary meetings with the new editorial board, their aims appealed to me in every way, and in fact were close to mine. This was something quite new in the Writers' Union; it was the only grouping of people on Union territory that I felt I could work with and identify with, without any inner reservations. It was a step that turned out to be far more important in my life than it first appeared to be. ... at the same time, it was the beginning of something deeper - my involvement in cultural and civic politics - and it ultimately led to my becoming a 'dissident'." [Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,  1990), pp. 76-77]
14[14] Slavomir Ravik, Bylo - nebylo: Na hradby Jericha, (Praha: Alternativy, 1994), p. 33.
15[15] Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p. 110.
16[16] Jiri V. Kotas, Czechoslovakia's Crossroads in the Twentieth Century (a personal essay), op. cit., p. 41.
17[17] Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, (Exlibris: Praha 1990), p. 95.  From the early 1989, Lorenc also recorded his conversation with the then Secretary general of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Milos Jakes, that apparently preceded a short Havel's detainment from February to May 1989:
18Jakes    Would not it possible to prosecute only people around Havel? And to leave Havel out ..?
19Lorenc ... it can hardly go.
20Jakes   It has to be done with a political effectiveness.
21[Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p.  66]
22[18] Thus, for example, Martin Ulcak, the then leader of the Communist youth organization informed the parliamentary committee of the investigation of the November events that, at least since May 1989, the "reformist group in the leadership had been ready for the fact that [the takeover] would start." These leaders of the Communist youth organization also played a crucial role in the Velvet Revolution helping to organize and legitimize the connection between the dissidents and the public. [Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989,op. cit., p.  92]
23[19] See Zdenek Jicinsky, Cs. parlament v polistopadovem obdobi, (Nadas - Afgh. s.r.o.: Praha, 1993), p. 1989. Marta Kubisova, a Czech pop singer, persecuted under the Communist regime, who in November 1989 was instrumental for the managing of the public manifestations, reported that, during an interrogation by the police in June 1989, a policeman told her to be patient for another half a year. She therefore concluded that the Velvet Revolution was a "beforehand planned reaction [to an arranged provocation]." [Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 73] During the summer 1989, Jan Rejzek, a Czech journalist, managed to publish "smartly" the proposal of having Havel for the next head of state. [Ibid., p. 44] Further, in early 1989, after his detainment, Havel was nominated by Karel Kyncl, a Charter 77 activist, for president in the British Independent. [Michaels Simmons, Nesmely prezident - The Reluctant President, (Praha: Volvox Globator, 1993), p. 26] As a matter of fact, in the summer of 1989, T-shirts were distributed among the dissidents and related groups with a slogan "Havel for president." At the same time, one of the apparently best people in Prague was a vendor in one newspaper and tobacco kiosks in Prague 4 who asserted that Havel was earmarked for president, and that it would happen when to most people it sounded like a joke. The story of a kiosk vendor is a fact confirmed by personal experience.
24[20] Cf. for example, Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci, (Praha: Univerzum,  1990), p. 178.
25[21] On the interpretation of this story by M. Horacek see, for example, Michal Horacek, Jak pukaly ledy, (Praha: Ex libris, 1990).
26[22] Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 220.
27[23] S. Vondra's own wording is here reproduced as cited in Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, (Art-Servis: Praha, 1990), p. 2. After 1989, Jiri Krizan became one of the most important advisors to Havel, and his task was to "supervise" the Ministry of the Interior. As indicated above, Evzen Erban was a former agent working for the occupation regime of the Nazis during the war, later hired by the Soviets. In 1948, he worked as a leading Communist agent in the leadership of the social-democratic party. [See Jiri V. Kotas, Czechoslovakia's Crossroads in the Twentieth Century (a personal essay), op. cit., pp. 11,13] Clearly, the invitation, as well as the character of the "party" seem to suggest a certain advanced form of mutual acquaintance and intimacy.
28[24] M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, eds., Deset prazskych dnu (17.-27. listopad 1989), (Praha: Academia, 1990), p. 570.
29[25] Slavomir Ravik, Bylo - nebylo: Tento zpusob leta,  (Praha: Periskop, srpen 1995), p. 35.
30[26] M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, eds., Deset prazskych dnu (17.-27. listopad 1989), (Praha: Academia, 1990), p. 560.
31[27] Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., pp. 40-41.
32[28] Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 91. See ibid,, p. 91, on the imperative of the official approval of the manifestation of November 17, 1989 so that the number of participants could reach the required threshold, and, as a result, enough attention and publicity would be secured.
33[29] On the curious phenomenon of STUHA see an account of its own members in Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci, (Praha: Univerzum, 1990), especially pp. 20-21, 23;  M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, eds., Deset prazskych dnu (17.-27. listopad 1989), op. cit., pp. 558-569.
34[30] On the importance of the role played by the leaders of the Communist "youth" see, for example, Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci, op. cit. Besides a tiny Socialist Party of Czechoslovakia, which was represented by its chairman during the foundation of the Civic Forum - in a police-guarded theatre on November 19, 1989, the official Communist youth broke the "official" line by denouncing the police action against the student manifestation in its newspaper on November 20, 1989. [Cf.  M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, Deset prazskych dnu, op. cit., pp. 597, 615] On the same day, the then chairman of this Czechoslovak youth organization and member of the secretariat of the central committee of the party, Vasil Mohorita, made an encouraging speech on the Wenceslav square where he also denounced the police action. He also helped in installing audio equipment on the square. This greatly helped to get the cautious public into motion and into streets. [Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci, op. cit., p. 95] Immediately after the foundation of the Civic Forum, it was Mohorita together with the then Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec, who established the Forum as a counter-partner representing the Czechoslovak people for the government. [Ibid., p. 99] The youth organization declared its support of the ensuing student strike. It also produced and distributed across Czechoslovakia appeals for a strike and information bulletins. Apparently, without the technical, logistic and organizational help of the Communist "junior" activists, the strike could not take place. [See ibid., p. 101] Jakub Mejdricky, a Communist youth leader (member of the central committee) and then leader of the student strike, was known as a frequent traveller to the USSR since his age of 16, where he admired "deep Siberian forests, wild rivers ..." He was also a member of a student delegation that went to Moscow on November 28, 1989, that is, with his "friends from his previous travels to the USSR. (Their achievement can be appreciated only by those who had an opportunity to experience the Soviet visa system.) [Ibid., pp. 117, 129] Miroslav Vacek also stressed that Mohorita, for a while the leader of the post-1989 Communist party, was "crucial in the appeasement of the Communist parliamentary members with electing Havel as president in December 1989." [Miroslav Vacek, Na rovinu: Bez studu a prikras, (Praha: Periskop, 1994), p. 175]
35[31] Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 190.
36[32] A secret-police-ensured disinformation in the first decisive moments in this regard is relatively well transparent in the account of its then chief as presented in Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., pp. 164-166, 169. Bartuska noted: "History was not moved by the Friday beating [November 17, 1989], but only by this short piece of information [of an allegedly killed student]." [Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., pp. 98-99] "If not for the brutal suppression of the demonstration, the information about the dead student would arouse strong doubts. On the contrary, it could hardly be an improvisation ... it was too great a coincidence that [a person who was to invent the story] met so quickly somebody from the circle of the Charter [77]." [Ibid., p. 155] Moreover, the mother of Martin Smid, the student who was supposed to be killed, announced as early as the evening of November 18, 1989, in the Realistic Theatre [again another theatre ], that her son was alive - Havel was present there, his spokesman Zantovsky, later the Czech Ambassador to the USA, refused the evidence of Smid's mother: "No, I have it confirmed, if it were a hoax, I would be out of the job tomorrow." Smid's mother also personally spoke with Havel, but in vain: "They held a commemoration ceremony for my son [instead]." The other units of the police also established by the evening of November 18, 1989 that Martin Smid lived. The information was, however, ignored [by other police?]. [Ibid., p. 60] Zifcak-StB-agent-imposter of Smid was one of the leaders of the Independent Student Association [STUHA?] that was signed as a co-organizer of the manifestation and he himself brought this declaration to the Charter spokeswoman Dana Nemcova for its emitting by the Radio Free Europe.  But he did not "remember" this before the parliamentary investigation committee. He was also one of those who were leading the manifestation towards the police clubs. [Ibid., pp. 190, 199] When Zifcak was exposed by students themselves, the then minister of interior flew to see Zifcak personally before his hearing and had several-hours' consultation with Havel about the same: as a result, it was ordered to the parliamentary committee that nothing can be published. [Ibid., 202] Lorenc also confirmed that the crucial "coincidence" was this bluff with a dead student. As Lorenc lauded it, it was "quite a good combination." Allegedly, the StB was not behind it [alone?].  Lorenc then quotes one of the post-Communist leaders who was to say - also rather symbolically: "So what, we do need some corpse." [Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., pp. 174-175] Again coincidentally, Marek Benda, a dissident's son and member of STUHA and Martin Smid were studying together in the same program. [Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci, op. cit., p. 34]
37[33] Ibid., p. Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, Exlibris, Praha 1990, p. 113.
38[34] Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 16. Moreover, Vaclav Benda, who later became the leader of the Catholic-Democratic party, also revealed that one day before the manifestation, on November 16, 1989, he had in his apartment a "dramatic negotiation" with a member of the central committee of the Communist youth organization (perhaps, Mohorita or Ulcak). Present was also a prominent dissident Rudolf Battek, later a leader of the social-democrats. They discussed last organizational arrangements of the manifestation, especially, with regard to its "management and control" on the spot. Allegedly, and also understandably, the man from the official power structure had for this meeting a mandate from "high" places, including a "certain mandate from the secrete police (security)." It was confirmed that no "preventive arrests and restraining of the movement of the activists would take place," as well as "the police would not in any form visible" - perhaps inside the procession. On November 18, 1989, one day after the manifestation and its brutal dispersal by the police, this mysterious man as if taken directly out of Havel's play The Conspirators, expressed to the dissidents a gratitude for keeping their agreement, while the police were to provide Benda with a close personal guard. On the eavesdropping on the Czechoslovak secret police, Benda commented: "As was my habite during such occasions, I was listening to the radio connections of the secrete police which followed the manifestation. Charmingly, there mobile stations have a code name Katan (Executor)." [Ibid., p. 16] This revolutionary "fair-tale" is quite impressive, one only suspects that Hollywood would perhaps deem this piece perhaps too cheap a plot to be worth considering for a new movie with James Bond.
39[35] Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., pp.  41-42. The same "philosophy" of rejecting a phenomenon of coincidence was embraced by the former dissidents-current-elite. See, for example, Vaclav Belehradsky, Myslet zelen sveta, op. cit., p. 58;  Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga, op. cit., pp. 237-238; Vaclav Havel, Living in truth: Twenty-two essays published on the occasion of the reward of Erasmus Prize to Vaclav Havel, op. cit., pp. 282-284, 287-288: here a close Havel's friend Zdenek Urbanek argues that "there is no such thing as 'coincidence';" coincidence [in the Universal and Homogenous State, we can add] is a phenomenon that is merely "not sufficiently researched" (or investigated); consequently, as Urbanek maintains,  "coincidence ... should be excluded from the vocabulary of meaningful terms or concepts." This poses for us an important question: is there such a thing as a free-willed betrayal of the Hegelian slave? Apparently, the answer is negative.
40[36] Bartuska,  Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 138. Lorenc, op. cit., p. 160.
41[37] Michaels Simmons, Nesmely prezident, op. cit., p. 13.
42[38] Ibid., p. 13. The contacts between the Civic Forum and the Soviets during the take-over were numerous. On the Soviet side, it seemed that the chief concern was to prevent anything or anybody  (like the Workers' Militia, army or naive Communists] that would complicate a smooth passing-over of power. See, for example, Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci, op. cit., p. 99; Oskar Krejci, Jak to prasklo, (Praha: Trio, 1991), pp. 27, 103. Vaclav Havel's brother Ivan Havel, already mentioned here in connection with the manufacturing of the police ciphering computer, was assigned as a negotiator or liaison officer with the Soviet Embassy in Prague. Ivan Havel also designed the organizational structure of the Civic Forum. [Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 47] Coincidentally, Ivan Klima, a dissident writer, had one day after the student manifestation, on November 18, 1989, a meeting with "a Soviet literature critic Semjonova" as if the whole day and later became a member of the Civic Forum committee for political strategy. [Ibid., p. 48]
43[39] Bartuska,  Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 54.
44[40] Inter alia, Hegenbart's "people" were said to be "detaining" delegates to a crucial session of the central committee of the Communist party  on November 23-24, 1989, at a time when a certain possibility existed that the then Minister of Defence might intervene. The detained delegates were then "instructed" (apparently by the means of appropriate persuasion methods) "how to behave." As a result, the whole presidium of the central committee resigned as required. [Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 47]
45[41] Slavomir Ravik, Totalni deziluze, (Praha: Prazska imaginace, 1992), p. 15.
46[42] Bartuska,  Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit.., p. 174. According to Miroslav Dolejsi, a Czech analyst and long-time prisoner under the Communist regime, the creation of the Civic Forum on November 19, 1989, was helped by the secret police, apparently  not only logistically. [Stredocesky Expres, October 29, 1990, pp. 1, 8] A film director J. Svoboda, who was personally involved in the creation of the Civic Forum, the new ruling body, later became a chairman of the post-1989 Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. [See Z. Jicinsky, Cs. parlament v polistopadovem obdobi, op. cit., pp. 36-37] In addition, the Civic Forum, seemingly a chaotic organization, was actually organized in a rather smart way. It created a number of redundant "commissions" that consumed energy and time of other political streams and groups by charging them with laborious and essentially unneeded tasks. These commissions, in turn, also tied attention to these spurious bodies that presented seemingly important centres of the revolution. In fact, they were side-lined and served as a cover. These tactics allowed the real centre of decisions related to Vaclav Havel, Jiri Krizan and Sasa Vondra to follow its deliberate and firmly settled strategy without interference and to carry out the arranged take-over of power in cooperation with the government. [See M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, Deset prazskych dnu, op. cit., pp. 577, 617-621, 632]
47[43] Bartuska,  Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 233.
48[44] Bartuska,  Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., pp. 86-87. Danisz was Havel's lawyer and was later exposed as a collaborator of the secret police.  The parliamentary investigation committee itself was greatly under control of StB agents, its own members. See Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p. 17.
49[45] Bartuska,  Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., pp. 202-3. Evidently, Danisz was responsible for informing Havel about the work of the parliamentary investigation committee. Later, it was revealed that, on the evening of November 27, 1989, Hegenbart organized a party celebrating "the Victorious November" in his apartment together with members of the dissident ex-Communist group Obroda (Revival) among which there were allegedly at least three agents of the secret police. [Zemedelske noviny, November 17, 1995, p. 3]
50[46] Cf. Michal Horacek, Jak pukaly ledy, (Praha: Ex libris, 1990), pp. 59-81;  M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, Deset prazskych dnu, op. cit., pp. 585, 587; Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., pp. 42. On 21 November, 1989, Adamec was still afraid to receive Havel himself, as a result, Havel had to wait in a vestibule of the building of the Presidium of the Government. Thus, Jiri Bartoska, an actor, took part in this first meeting instead of Havel as "a less politically engaged personality." However, Adamec thereby initiated the official talks with Civic Forum, announced its existence officially to the public and elevated it as a counter-partner of the government and future power-holder. [Ibid., p. 35] During a hearing before the parliamentary investigation committee, Adamec claimed that he did not even know that a massive student manifestation was to take place in Prague on November 17, 1989. [Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 81]
51[47] Oskar Krejci, Jak to prasklo, (Praha: Trio, 1991), p. 104.
52[48] Marek Benda, Martin Benda, Martin Klima, Pavel Dobrovsky, Monika Pajerova, Simon Panek, Roman Kriz, Studenti psali revoluci,op. cit., p. 168. Dubcek was manoeuvred out of  his possible candidacy for president by giving him a position of the chairman of the federal parliament as a Christmas present by the same Communist parliament that ruled during Dubcek's forced internal exile. Consequently, Havel was elected president by the Communist deputies at a time when more than 80 per cent of the citizens wanted to have direct presidential elections. [Oskar Krejci, Jak to prasklo, op. cit., p. 42]
53[49] Frantisek Dvorak, Slavomir Ravik, Jiri Teryngel, Zaloba aneb Bila kniha k patemu vyroci 17. listopadu 1989,  (Praha: Periskop, 1994), p. 28.
54[50] See, for example, Country Report: The Czech and Slovak Republics, (the Economic Intelligence Unit, London, No. 2, 1993), p. 10. In July 1994, only 35% of Slovaks were for the preservation of the independent Slovak state while more than 50% of them regretted the division of the Czechoslovak state. [Lidove noviny, 21 June 1994, p. 1.]
55[51] The Toronto Star, January 5, 1993, p. A13.
56[52] Vaclav Havel, 1992 &  1993 (projevy), ( Praha, Litomysl: Paseka, 1994), p. 176.
57[53] Vaclav Bartuska, Polojasno: Patrani po vinicich 17. listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 85.
58[54] Slavomir Ravik, Totalni deziluze, op. cit., p. 14.
59[55] Barry Cooper, "Nihilism and Technology" in Tom Darby, Bela Egyed and Ben Jones, eds., Nietzsche and the Rhetoric of Nihilism: Essays on interpretation, language and politics, (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1989), pp. 165-181.

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