‘Ik hoop maar dat ze hun hand niet overspelen.’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 135, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



This article analyses the perception of the Dutch embassy in Prague of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The embassy’s analyses from late October 1989 reflect the idea that a confrontation between rulers and opposition was inevitable and identified several dates this might happen. Expecting the confrontation to take place in December, the Dutch diplomats missed the early phase of the demonstrations that brought the communist regime to its knees. While they did not rule out the possibility of a violent crackdown along the lines of the Chinese example of June 1989, they did not consider it very likely. Even so, this concern seems to have informed the caution present in the embassy’s analyses in the first ten days of the upheaval. Triumphalism was lacking even though the intended outcome, political change, had been a core element in Dutch policy towards Czechoslovakia.


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