Manifesto of 2000 Words

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The 2000 Word Manifesto (full title: two thousand words addressed to workers, farmers, civil servants, artists and everyone ; Czech: Dva tisíce slov, které patří dělníkům, zemědělcům, úředníkům, umělcům a všem des ) is one of the most important texts Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia from 1968.

It is a testimony to public emancipation and has been signed by intellectuals of various stripes. The document was created at the suggestion of some employees of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences ( Československá akademie věd ), u. a. Otto Wichterle , Jan Brod , Otakar Poupa and Miroslav Holub . It was written in June 1968 by the famous writer Ludvík Vaculík . The manifesto appeared on June 27, 1968 in the cultural and political journal Literární listy and in the daily newspapers Lidové noviny , Práce , Mladá fronta and Zemědělské noviny .

It not only critically examined the role of the Communist Party in the process of the “Prague Spring” and called for an unconditional continuation of the reform policy against the reactionary forces at home and abroad, but also generally criticized the “errors of socialism”. The Communist Party leadership rejected the document as a declaration of no confidence in their policies. The population, especially the hitherto passive working class, greeted the manifesto with a “stormy echo”. In general, the "2000 words" led to a further radicalization of both conservative and reform-oriented forces, while the Černík government and the majority of the party leadership under Dubček were forced to navigate between the two sides.

Effect and reactions

The overwhelming effect of the “2000 words” is undisputed. Both opponents and supporters of the reforms in the ČSSR were forced to take a stand on the manifesto. Naturally, the evaluation of the document was very different. Prime Minister Černík found clear words on June 29 when he said that the statement, whether the authors wanted it or not, incited both groups of extreme forces and seriously disrupted the constructive upswing of the socialist renewal process. The chairman of the Smrkovský National Assembly went even further, warning that calling for strikes, boycotts and the like would carry the elementary charge of illegality . He also raised the question of whether an abstract appeal to adhere to the law actually had more authority within the readership than the specific demands for de facto unlawful measures. Far-sighted, he warned against political romanticism and stated that this would prevail if one starts out from insufficient information and therefore does not take into account all the relevant - internal and external - components that affect the development of our [Czechoslovak] society and the fate of our striving for renewal determine. This passage in his reply to the manifesto must be understood as a fine allusion to the threat that threatened Czechoslovakia and its reform process.

Ota Šik drew a somewhat more moderate balance in his book. He wrote about the manifesto: I, too, considered this manifesto, as much as I agreed with its content, to be a tactical failure. The progressives were everywhere the much stronger and despite all intrigues the reactionaries could no longer push back the development with internal forces. At this point in time, therefore, the manifesto served the conservatives and reactionaries more than the reformers.

The progressive part of the government was therefore in agreement on its basic features in evaluating this document. They all could at least partially identify with the content of the manifesto, but openly criticized the choice of words and the date of publication of the "2000 Words". The allusion to the external forces by Smrkovský must be seen in this context as the last attempt to urge the writers to exercise a certain moderation so as not to endanger the overall project.

Naturally, the conservative forces themselves took a negative attitude. Immediately after its publication, Major General Kodaj called the manifesto a call for counter-revolution and the conservative communist Hájak called the manifesto provocative in retrospect and declared that it accelerated further political development or even radicalized it. In response to the “2000 words”, Central Committee member Indra also sent warnings of an impending counterrevolution to all party organizations. In his brochure “Prager Frühling - Prager Herbst” published in 1990, Rüdiger Wenzke even goes so far as to state that the term counter-revolutionary only appeared in the disputes with the appearance of the manifesto .

At least Pravda, controlled centrally from Moscow, now saw this danger on the horizon. In an article dated July 11th, she stated that it is more evident than ever before that the appearance of the 2000 words is by no means an isolated phenomenon, but rather evidence that the right-wing and downright counter-revolutionary forces in Czechoslovakia have become active the imperialist reaction is related. So the Soviet propaganda had gotten to grips with this manifesto surprisingly quickly and was now trying to use it to support their view of things in the ČSSR. This is supported by the jointly written letter from the five countries involved in the invasion, which they addressed to the KSC on July 15. In this, the manifesto is placed in a larger context by asserting that it is precisely because of this [what is meant is the too cautious intervention of the Central Committee against the intensified attacks of the supposed reaction] that the reaction was given the opportunity to publicly with a political platform spread across the country to emerge under the name 2000 words, which contains an open appeal to fight against the communist party, against the constitutional power that calls for strikes and riots. In fact, what the Chairman of the National Assembly Smrkovský had suspected had now happened. The Soviet side skilfully exploited the manifesto and tried to give the impression that Prague was on the verge of an imperialist counter-revolution. It had to be clear to all those involved by now that Moscow judged the reform process to be unnecessary and counterproductive. It is also clearly pointed out in the letter that the Soviet Union would not tolerate further steps in this direction and would in future no longer view the matter from the perspective of sovereignty, but from that of a common defense against imperialism.

Individual evidence

  1. Information from Dva tisíce slov , online: ( Memento from May 14, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (Czech).
  2. ^ Eleonora Schneider: Prager Frühling , p. 108
  3. Skibowski, Klaus Otto (Ed.): Fateful Days of a Nation, p. 29
  4. ^ Domes, Alfred: Prague August 21, 1968, p. 18.
  5. ^ Domes, Alfred: Prague August 21, 1968, p. 18.
  6. Šik, Ota: Prague Spring Awakening, p. 249.
  7. ^ Sager, Peter / Brügger, Christian (ed.): Prag 1968, p. 63.
  8. Hajak, Jiri: democratization and disassembly, S. 148th
  9. Wenzke, Rüdiger: Prager Frühling - Prager Herbst, p. 8.
  10. Skibowski, Klaus Otto (Ed.): Fateful Days of a Nation, p. 34.
  11. Kountouroyanis, Konstantin: "The network of censorship" | On the death of a timeless critic - An obituary for Ludvík Vaculík, in prag aktuell, June 13, 2015, here the paragraph "In 2000 words, hundreds of tanks rolled"


  • Eleonora Schneider: Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution. Social movements in societies of the Soviet type using the example of Czechoslovakia , IZE Aachen 1994. ISBN 3-930528-11-8 .

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