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Meeting Notes Taken by Chief of the Hungarian People’s Army General Staff Károly Csémi on Talks with Soviet Generals in Budapest to Discuss Preparations for “Operation Danube,” July 24, 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir.
"The Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998,
Original Source: MHKI, 5/12/11, Doc. 13.
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: This is the memorandum after a conversation which took place on July 24 1968. Present at the conversation are the Soviet Generals Provalov, Tutarinov and Marushchak who were visiting Hungarian General Csémi.
On 24 July 1968 at l 1:00 A.M. Cdes. Provalov, Tutarinov, and Marushchak came to see me. Cde. Provalov informed me that be was planning maneuvers on Czechoslovak territory. He thanked us on behalf of Cde. Grechko for taking part in the exercises.
He asked us to designate a division that would take part as well as the commanders. We were asked to decide whether the division should be involved in the first or second stage. They felt it would be more expedient to take part in the first stage.
I replied that I had merely been authorized yesterday to announce our participation in the maneuvers, and that I would have to report all other matters. We agreed that Major-Generals Szücs and Reményi would leave for Mátyásföld on 25 July at 2 P.M. to prepare the plans and that they would report to me on the 26th. It would be useful to include Major-General Kalázi in the preparations along with the commanders of the division and battalions and their chiefs of staff and political officers. We will appoint a military operations liaison group to be attached to Cde. Provalov’s staff for the duration of the maneuvers.
They also declared that although we will prepare for the exercises and be ready to carry them out, it would be good if we did not actually have to go ahead with them.
The political objective of the maneuvers is to help the Czechoslovak people defeat the counterrevolution. We will explain this to the workers, peasants, and intellectuals and make it clear that we will withdraw afterwards. We will leave army units alone provided that they act loyally; hut if they put up resistance they will have to be crushed.
Three Soviet divisions will enter west of the Danube across the three bridges. In the event that the bridges are blown up, the river will have to be crossed by the use of force. They would like to deploy our division in the first phase east of the Danube, if possible on a larger scale than has been already outlined. The division is to be involved in administrative affairs on its territory.
We will be informed of the start of the maneuvers 5-7 hours in advance. At that point live ammunition is to be handed out, the formations are to receive concrete instructions, and the political purpose of the exercise is to be explained to the men.
1. The exercises – if they take place – will cover a major portion of the territory and population of the country. It is therefore necessary to make arrangements to prepare public opinion in our country, prepare the troops of the People’s Army, and take the necessary security measures.
2. If the exercises get under way, we can expect events to take place at any moment, at short notice, from the 26th or 27th on.
3. Regardless of the activities of the CzPA and the armed forces, armed clashes may occur.
A decision must be taken:
- to determine whom we are to include in the preparation of the exercise,
- to make possible corrections in the choice of the location of the division (the first or second phase) and its composition on the basis of the definition of its tasks.
24 July 1968
In the absence of Cde. Czinege (out of town)