73. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Bohlen) to Secretary of State Rusk1
- Situation in Czechoslovakia
While of course it is not conclusive I must say I don’t like the tone of the Soviet and Satellite press in regard to Czechoslovakia. Not only is the tone shriller, but for the first time an authoritative Soviet journal, i.e., Pravda, has stated that there is going on in Prague preparations for a coup which the Czech leaders do not seem to be aware of, and that action is necessary to forestall this coup. There is also a reference in the Red Star to the fact that the combat readiness of the Soviet army increases day by day and hour by hour. There has been no announcement made of the date of the Politburo meetings, and there is even an indication in an American correspondent’s story from Moscow that diplomatic circles there are beginning to wonder if the meetings would come off.
There is also the increased Soviet mobilization and the report that at least two, if not three, Soviet divisions moved south from the Berlin area towards the Czech border. Of course this could all be part of the war of nerves, but I think something to watch is whether or not there is any serious indication that the proposed meeting is off.
I find the military preparations somewhat excessive for a war of nerves, and it could be that in addition to making final preparation for a move into Czechoslovakia the Soviets are preparing for any eventuality which might arise.
The foregoing is pure speculation, but I thought I should tell you that I think the scene has darkened a bit since yesterday.
- Source: Department of State, Bohlen Files: Lot 73 D 374, Memos Drafted in G. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen.↩