Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 16. September 8th 1971
Delegates to the XIV Congress of the Czechoslovak Communist Party held last May in Prague were told that "Normalisation" had been satisfactorily completed. Gustav Husak, the first secretary, became secretary-general, and the congress went on record as showing its satisfaction at the Kremlin's "fraternal aid" in 1968.
In the eyes of most Czechoslovak intellectuals, however, this much-vaunted "normalisation" is tantamount to the "assassination of a culture." In this document - which a Prague dissident has preferred not to sign for obvious reasons - he explains how intellectual curiosity is being stifled and all discussion rigorously restricted to areas approved by the party.
When we in Czechoslovakia read the Western press - to the irregular extent this is possible for us at the present time - whether it is Communist or non-Communist, Left, Centre or Right, we are shaken by a horrible doubt as to whether anyone is still interested in this country, so much talked about only a little while ago.
And if by chance people are interested in it, can they really have an idea of what is going on here after two years of normalization? What do people abroad know about the barefaced fascism creeping into the day-to-day life of this country?
Consider the cultural field for example. Czechoslovaks were most impressed by the protest against the dismissal of the producer Otomar Krejca (he founded the Za Branu Theatre in 1966). Never before, it seems, had so many signatures been collected to protest against a measure taken against someone in the world of theatre. We noticed that, for once. Communists a few Communists had signed with the others. It was rare and heartwarming. Everyone was aware, of course that the issue did not only involve Krejca alone; he had become a symbol.
One statement in the text of the protest deserved to be mentioned. Krejca was punished we read, despite the fact that he had always wanted to remain in Prague with his actors. He was in fact punished precisely because he wanted to remain in the capital with them.