Browse Primary Sources

Letter from the Civic Forum to US President George Bush and USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev

On November 21, Civic Forum representatives addressed the throngs of demonstrators on Wenceslas Square for the first time; this public "meeting" would soon became a daily ritual. Afterwards, Forum members wrote this letter to the U.S. and Soviet leaders, speaking as the legitimate representatives of those "hundreds of thousands" on the Square.

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Teleprint from the Presidium of the CC CPCz to the Secretaries of Regional Committees of the CPCz and CPS and the Party Municipal Committees in Prague and Bratislava

Czechoslovak communist leaders reacted to the first protests after November 17 with the same uncompromising attitude towards opposition they had held for twenty years. This November 21 Central Committee directive, calling on local communists to create a uniform front against the protests, illustrates some of the leadership's initial arguments and strategies.

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The Declaration of the Civic Forum by Representative Vaclav Havel on Wenceslas Square

Anti-state demonstrations have traditionally taken place in the heart of Prague on Wenceslas Square. After the November 17 police crackdown, it was no accident that the Square became the central point for people to get information, meet others and, from November 21 on, to attend the daily "meetings" when opposition groups addressed citizens from the balcony of the Melantrich publishing house.

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Teleprint from Jozef Lenart, Secretary of CC CPCz, to Regional Committees and Municipal Commitees in Prague and Bratislava

The battle for public opinion occupied both government and opposition at the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. In this November 23 communique, Central Committee member Jozef Lenart reported on the party's measures to sway the public against the opposition.

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Teleprint, "Summary of the Demands Made by Opposition Groups Represented by the Civic Forum,"

Several of the previous documents (for example doc. 492, 508 and 510) have dealt with the Czechoslovak Communist Party's attempts to control public opinion in the early days of the Velvet Revolution.

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Speech by Premier Ladislav Adamec at an extraordinary session of the CPCz CC, stating his preference for a political solution to the crisis

Only days after November 17 a growing number of Czechoslovak communists were becoming convinced that the conservative leadership's hardliner approach to the growing public unrest was failing.

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List of Goals by the Civic Forum

From the beginning, Civic Forum had to balance two objectives: leading popular protests and negotiating with the regime. In its first week, the Forum concentrated on mobilizing public support for the upcoming general strike. November 26 signified a turning point.

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The Position of the Civic Forum and Public Against Violence Toward the Negotiations with Czechoslovak Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec

Civic Forum and Public Against Violence released this communique after their second round of negotiations with the government on November 28. The nationwide general strike had occurred the day before with resounding success; it was estimated that between one-half and three-fourths of the adult population participated in some fashion.

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Internal Organization of the Civic Forum

Civic Forum suffered from an ongoing identity crisis because the movement's origins conflicted with the demands of leading popular opposition to the state. The dissident intellectuals guiding its early formation had advocated the idea of self-limiting resistance; they didn't want Civic Forum to become a top-down political organization, but rather a free, open society of citizens.

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Teleprint, Information on the Conclusions of Nation-wide Party Congress held in Prague

The Czechoslovak Communist Party faced some unpleasant realities on November 28. The previous day's general strike had seriously weakened its hand. That day's negotiations with opposition leader Civic Forum forced it to accept several devastating conditions, including the removal of its constitutionally-guaranteed domination of state and society.

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