Archive: History | 1968 1968

Yuri Gagarin: to Prague via the stratosphere

10-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Yuri Gagarin in Prague, photo: CTK Even after the death of Stalin in the Soviet Union and Klement Gottwald in Czechoslovakia the 1950s remained a period of high political tension between East and West. The Cold War was at its height; with it came the arms race and the space race. Here is Czechoslovakia’s president Antonín Novotný, in a New Year radio address on January 1 1958:  More

Stalin and Gottwald: together in life and death

03-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Joseph Stalin and Klement Gottwald When Joseph Stalin died on March 5 1953, it sent shockwaves round the world. In Czechoslovakia his personality cult had been almost as overwhelming as in the Soviet Union itself. At the time of his death, work was already well under way to build the biggest statue of the Soviet dictator in the world – unveiled two years later in Letná Park. Stalin had a close ally and kindred spirit in the Czechoslovak President, Klement Gottwald, and Gottwald ignored warnings from his doctors in order to attend his friend and protector’s funeral. Before leading the Czechoslovak delegation to Moscow, he had a few words for his country’s citizens.  More

Muscovites faced with powerful 1968 invasion testimony

11-10-2011 16:10 | Daniela Lazarová

Invasion 68, photo: Josef Koudelka Czech born Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka’s unique collection of photographs documenting the 1968 Russian-led invasion of Czechoslovakia opened at the Lumiere Brothers Gallery in Moscow on Friday. At the exhibition’s opening the photographer said he hoped the unique testimony would help dispel the myth that the invasion of Czechoslovakia was an act of solidarity with its people.  More

Jiří Dienstbier remembers a fateful day

17-09-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Jiří Dienstbier, photo: Kristýna Maková Because August 21 is the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the radio played such a central role in the events of those dramatic days, in this edition of From the Archives we shall be hearing the memories of one of the key journalists involved in those dramatic events. Jiří Dienstbier was one of Czechoslovak Radio’s star reporters at the time. Later he was to become one of the best-known dissidents of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and after the Velvet Revolution he was the country’s first post-communist foreign minister. On the morning of August 21 1968, he was one of several radio journalists, playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Soviet occupiers, as the Soviets tried to silence the radio station. In some of the recordings that survive, you can hear quite distinctly tanks and machine-gun fire in the background.  More

Former Czech TV correspondent’s book explores Russian perspective on August 21 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia

19-08-2011 13:26 | Sarah Borufka

Ahead of the 43-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s invasion by the Soviet Union and her main allies on August 21, a new book offers a hitherto little explored perspective on this traumatic chapter of Czech history. Titled “Invasion 1968. The Russian View”, it explores Russians’ attitudes towards the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia and the trauma that some of the Soviet soldiers involved in it experienced in its wake. Sarah Borufka spoke to the editor, former Russian correspondent for Czech TV Josef Pazderka, about the Russian experience of the historic event, their view of the 1968 invasion today and what inspired him to put the book together in the first place.  More

Week of Freedom marks 20-year-anniversary of withdrawal of Soviet troops

20-06-2011 16:44 | Sarah Borufka

Photo: CTK On July 1, 1991, the Warsaw Treaty was officially dissolved and 36 years of Czechoslovakia’s military alliance with the USSR came to an end. As a consequence, Soviet troops stationed in the country during the 1968 invasion were gradually withdrawn – an anniversary that the Czech NGO Opona is celebrating with a series of events entitled Week of Freedom, starting Monday. Sarah Borufka spoke to David Gaydečka, one of the organizers of Freedom Week about the events planned.   More

Lithuanians share their memories and regrets from the 1968 Soviet invasion

22-02-2011 15:28 | Christian Falvey

photo: Institute of Contemporary History The international Mene Tekel project against totalitarianism began its fifth year on Monday. One of the focuses this year is on the Baltic state of Lithuania and the memories of Lithuanians who served in the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. Christian Falvey has this week’s Czech History.  More

The 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia through the eyes of Soviet troops

21-08-2010 02:02 | Jan Richter

August 21 marks the anniversary of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and other communist countries. The occupation crushed an attempt to reform the communist regime, and drove the country into two decades of hard-line rule. What that all meant to the people of Czechoslovakia has been looked at many times. In our special programme today, we look at August 1968 from another perspective: that of the occupiers.   More

Monument unveiled to Polish 'human torch' protestor against Soviet invasion

20-08-2010 13:48 | Rob Cameron

Monument to Ryszard Siwiec, photo: CTK A monument was unveiled in Prague on Friday morning to Ryszard Siwiec, the Polish man who set himself alight in September 1968 in protest at his country’s participation in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Siwiec committed suicide in Warsaw just weeks after the invasion and six months before the Czech student Jan Palach made his own terrible sacrifice in Prague. The monument was unveiled on the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the invasion.   More

A world full of seekers: Christmas before and after the fall of communism

24-12-2009 02:01 | David Vaughan

Exactly 20 years ago, Czechs and Slovaks were celebrating their first Christmas for four decades without a hint of official disapproval. While the communists tolerated the trappings of Christmas – with Christmas trees and traditional Czech Christmas carp in abundance – their tolerance of Christian traditions was never more than skin deep. In the 1950s, priests and members of religious orders were often locked up for their beliefs, and the brief reforms of the 1960s were followed by another wave of persecution, following the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. For this programme I’m going to be talking to two people, who remember only too well what it meant to be a practising Christian in communist Czechoslovakia. They are the Protestant pastor, former Dean of the Protestant Theological Faculty of Prague’s Charles University and former dissident, Jakub Trojan, and the British translator Gerry Turner, who has lived in Prague for many years and has had close links with the churches here since before the fall of communism.   More

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