"the Two Thousand Words"

Ludvik Vakulik in 2006
Public DomainLudvik Vakulik in 2006

This was the name of a manifesto written by Czech writer and journalist Ludvik Vaculik during the Prague Spring (see Bookmarks, pages 25, 26, and 96). It was published on June 27, 1968 in three different Czech journals with sixty signatures of distinguished citizens as well as ordinary laborers. Rather than open revolution, it called for the people of Czechoslovakia to hold the Communist Party accountable to standards of openness.

Vaculík (1926- ) was a journalist and author who tended to hang out with the radical socialists in the Czechoslovak Writers’ Union -- a group with included Kundera and Jan Prochazka (see Bookmark, page 133). His document appealed to ordinary Czech citizens to establish their own watchdog committees to make socialist reform a grass-roots movement, but Czech Communist officials and their Soviet sponsors interpreted this as a call for counter-revolutionary activity.

As the narrator explains, after the Soviet invasion and crackdown in August, the occupiers became very interested in anyone who was on record as having supported “the Two Thousand Words.”