50 years since document signaling definitive end of Prague Spring

Communist party regional meeting in the 70s, photo: Prostějov State Archive

A document entitled Lessons from the Crisis Situation appeared in the in the Czechoslovak press on 14.1.1971. Definitively bringing the events of 1968 – when reform Communists sought to follow a new path – to an end, it laid the foundations for extensive repression and remained a pillar of the totalitarian regime for the next two decades.

Lessons from the Crisis Situation,  photo: David Hertl / Czech Radio

Lessons from the Crisis Situation presented the events of spring 1968 as the work of counterrevolutionary elements.

It was widely distributed, appearing as a supplement in newspaper Rudé právo and also as a mass-produced brochure.

It was followed by the establishment of screening commissions aimed at separating the “healthy core of the Communist Party” from those who had pushed for liberalisation.

Some 326,817 members didn’t receive new party cards and the membership base shrank by one-fifth.

A considerable number of members had already quit the Communist Party voluntarily.

Non-Communists were also forced to undergo screenings.

Ex-political prisoners seeking rehabilitation, teachers and many others had to sign a document saying they agreed with the presence of Warsaw Pact troops.

Those who refused lost their jobs or were thrown out of university. In this way over 300,000 people were excluded from public life.