Pavel Žáček - The Emergency Security Measures and “Operation Student”: An Overview of the Activities of SNB Units and Troops of the Ministry of the Interior on November 17, 1989

The intervention by the communist security forces on November 17, 1989, as part of an emergency security operation and the security measures codenamed “Student”, carried out in the centre of Prague and especially on Národní Street was to become a milestone in modern Czechoslovak history. The operation, whose objective was to prevent the student demonstration from moving to the centre of the capital, was   led by the Head Commander of the Municipal Directorate of the National Security Corps, Colonel JUDr. Michal Danišovič, and the main public order unit was the Trainee Emergency Brigade under the command of Major Bedřich Houbal, complemented by forces from the Special Purposes Section, State Security officers, four reserves from the local District National Corps Offices and other support and auxiliary units. As a reserve unit, which eventually played a key role in controlling the movement of the demonstrators and the operation as a whole, there was a professional operation unit – the Public Security Emergency Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Břetislav Zdráhala. Both units surrounded the core of the demonstrators on Národní Street, pushing them from both sides after a brutal intervention and the deployment of two armoured vehicles and eventually forcing them into a side street and scattering them. A dramatic role in this was played by members of the anti-terrorist squad headed by Major Petr Šesták who, in cooperation with secret police officers, selected individuals from among the demonstrators and, like the intervention squad members, brutally beat them with batons in the archway of Kaňkův Palace. The dis- proportionately harsh response by the security forces gradually led to the downfall of the communist totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia.