Monday, November 22, 2004

The U.S. Embassy staffer who wrote this recently declassified document in 1989 must have been pretty psyched. (Via Welch.) It's mainly an conversation -- overheard (recorded? unclear) by an embassy spouse -- between a bunch of old-timers standing around the center of Wenceslas Square on Nov. 21, 1989. They're talking about "kids these days." I'd copy and paste the whole thing, but it's a scanned typewritten memo. Excerpts:

"The don't know who Masaryk was."

"That's right. Ask a high school sophomore who was the first president of the Republic, and they will tell you Gottwald."


"What if we strike and nothing happens?"

"We strike again. We keep on striking again and again."


"The people who locked up [good people in the 1950s] are the ones who have been leading the youth all these years. What do you expect? No wonder the young people don't know anything."

"But we are here," replied one young man.

A final note: On the metro this morning this embassy spouse's housekeeper saw a young student wearing one of our U.S.-Czechoslovak flag pins. Someone of the subway offered him 500 KCS for it (USD 50). The offer was refused. End note.
The ones overheard carping on the street were 40-80 years old. But the students who spent the night at the foot of St. Wenceslas were 15-20 years old. The "leaders" of the student protesters (quotes in the original) "looked like children," according to this document. These are the people who brought down the regime, and that's one thing the Czechs should never forget.

One more thing. The exchange value of 500 crowns may have been $50 those days, but in terms of purchasing power, how many beers would that have bought?


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