‘You are going much too fast,’ Mrs Thatcher said on the News at One on Friday, 10 November, ‘first Poland, then Hungary, then – er, Czechoslovakia, now Eastern Germany ... ’. Heigh-ho, this was Neville Chamberlain’s ‘Czechoslovakia’ all over again, the far-away country of which we know little. The second half of the sentence was omitted from the television interview shown later that day. The slip of the tongue shows the extent of Mrs Thatcher’s informed interest in the quiet revolution that is happening in Central Europe, the levée en masse of which the Czechs had at that stage formed no part.
Vol. 12 No. 1 · 11 January 1990
I would like to correct a slip of the editorial pen in my Diary of 7 December 1989. Writing about the East Germans, I mentioned that their armies ‘occupied Bohemia and Moravia 21 years ago’ – not ‘51 years ago’. What I was referring to were not the events of the Munich agreement of October 1938, but the invasion of Czechoslovakia in the night of 20 August 1968 by 600,000 troops composed of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and the German Democratic Republic. This invasion marked the return of German troops to what some twenty-three years earlier had been the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Like the Wehrmacht, these ‘friendly socialist troops’ were protecting the Czech people from their democratic follies. Last month both President Gorbachev and the head of the provisional government of Eastern Germany apologised for this act, though the Russian troops are still there.