Vzestup a pád ČSLA?
[The Rise and Fall of the Czechoslovak People’s Army?]
paperback, 350 pp., 1. edition
published: february 2020
recommended price: 390 czk
A large number of stereotypes are associated with the military profession and the functioning of the military during the Communist regime. The army is usually seen as an obedient tool of the Communist Party, ready to act against its own citizens and to fulfill the aggressive plans of the Soviet Union in the ongoing cold war. Professional soldiers are often described as blinded Communists who thoughtlessly carry out absurd orders. Last but not least, the army in the Communist era is often viewed as a useless and inefficient institution, in which generations of young men wasted their time and potential during their mandatory military service.
This book does not aim to individually refute each of the above statements one after the other, instead it relativizes them, showing officers of the Czechoslovak People’s Army in a slightly different light – as executors of a profession, which had its specifics, related to the period, work and culture. The book reflects on daily life of army officers in the 1960s, particularly based on interviews with those who experienced it. It attempts to (re)construct the mechanisms of operation of the social and professional identity of professional soldiers, which was significantly affected by the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the subsequent “normalization” of the army.