Wiesenthal Says ‘zionist Plot’ Alleged by Opponents of Czech Reform in Spring

Anti-liberal elements in Czechoslovakia as early as last spring were using an alleged “Zionist plot” in attempts to discredit the reform regime of Communist Party First Secretary Alexander Dubcek, it was disclosed yesterday by Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Jewish Documentation Center here. Mr. Wiesenthal, who gained international prominence by his efforts to track down Nazi war criminals, including the late Adolf Eichmann, said the leaflets circulated in Prague early last May warned against a take-over by “Zionists” and singled out Prof. Eduard Goldstuecker, rector of Charles University in Prague, and head of the Czech Writers Union and a supporter of Mr. Dubcek, as one of the plotters.

The disclosure by Mr. Wiesenthal followed reports yesterday that both Poland and East Germany were trying to justify their participation in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia by alleging that “Zionist forces” had taken over the party leadership in Czechoslovakia and were subverting Socialism there. Mr. Wiesenthal said it was never established who printed and distributed the leaflets in Prague but they are believed to have been the work of supporters of ousted President Antonin Novotny. A week later, he said, a number of Jewish and non-Jewish public figures in Prague received letters forged on stationery of the Documentation Center which expressed deep satisfaction with the liberalization measures as being good for Jews and for Israel. The letters, ostensibly signed by Mr. Wiesenthal, were described by him yesterday as clumsy fakes.

Mr. Wiesenthal said that the use of an alleged “Zionist” threat by the opponents of liberalization in Czechoslovakia was intended to appeal to latent anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Prof. Goldstuecker, the single Jew in the clandestine party leadership to which he was elected after the Soviet invasion last week, was himself the target of viciously anti-Semitic letters several months ago. Some of the letters were published in the Czech Communist Party newspaper Rude Pravo along with an article by Dr. Goldstuecker decrying anti-Semitism. His position was endorsed in scores of letters to the newspaper from Czechs in all walks of life. Mr. Wiesenthal noted yesterday that only 14,000 Jews remain among Czechoslovakia’s 14 million people and only 4,000 of them practice their religion. He said the Jews remained in Czechoslovakia because of strong bonds with their country.

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