The DDR and the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968

In a recent post, I briefly reviewed Hans Kundnani’s fascinating book about the German left, Utopia or Auschwitz:  Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust.  I said that he had overlooked that the army of the DDR joined the Warsaw Pact forces which invaded the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in August 1968.    It turns out I was wrong.

My apologies to Mr Kundnani, to whom I also owe the knowledge of this correction.   Although forces of the army of the DDR, the National People’s Army (NVA), did assemble near the border ready to invade, at the last moment their action was stayed.  The decision to stay them seems to have been made in the Kremlin on the advice of senior Czech communists who were supporting the invasion, a fact only confirmed recently.  Interestingly, it seems that during and subsequent to the invasion, the SED Government of the DDR never corrected reports which said that they had participated.

It was not until 2008, at an international joint project on the ‘Prague Spring’, that researchers from the Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Graz, from Russian institutes and archives [sic] from other research institutions were able to provide a clear answer.  In Moscow they found previously unknown documentary evidence that the decision for the non-participation of the NVA in the invasion was indeed made on short notice by Soviet Party leader Leonid Brezhnev following requests by high-ranking Czechoslovak opponents of Dubcek.”  (Wenzke, p. 155)

Rudiger Wenzke [2010]:   The role and activities of the SED, the East German State and its military during the “Prague Spring” of 1968. pp. 137-164 in:  M. Mark Stolarik (Editor): The Prague Spring and the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968:  Forty Years Later. Illinois, USA: Mundelein.
Hans Kundnani [2009]:  Utopia or Auschwitz:  Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust. London, UK:  Hurst and Company.

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