August 1968

August 21st of 1968 is a black day in Czech history. People still recall waking up on that fateful morning to find that Soviet-led Warsaw Pact tanks had rolled into the country crushing all hope of implementing the democratic reforms of the Prague Spring. Shocked citizens took to the streets in protest of the invasion. Over 100 people were killed and 500 injured in skirmishes with the invaders, many of whom had no clear idea of what they were doing here and even where exactly they were. One of the key battles was for the control of Czech Radio, similar to the one that took place at the end of the Second World War.

Fifteen Prague citizens and radio employees lost their lives in the clash with Soviet armed forces, who eventually seized the building. Although radio broadcasting continued from other locations, the public and media revolt was soon suppressed. In the following period, also known as the "normalisation", hundreds of employees were forced to leave the radio because of their political views, and thousands of people across the country were sacked for speaking their minds. Communist apparatchiks took over and those who did not flee the country were forced to toe the party line or live as outcasts harassed by the dreaded secret service. People closed up, trusting none but their closest family and friends. Some thought it would be a couple of years before things turned for the better, but the communist regime was to stay in power for another twenty years.

 

The photos were provided by the Institute of Contemporary History, www.68.usd.cas.cz

 
 

RELATED ARTICLES

Date Title
07.01.2019 Prague hopes to turn ex-hospital where Jan Palach died into ‘Museum of Totalitarianism’
08.12.2018 Simon Mawer’s Prague Spring: a complex love story amid the drama of 1968
31.10.2018 Radio Prague’s former head receives state award for running independent broadcasts after 1968 invasion
24.10.2018 Věra Čáslavská’s silent protest at 1968 Olympics recalled
25.08.2018 1968 Red Square protest against Czechoslovak invasion marked in Prague
24.08.2018 Moscow 1968 protester Pavel Litvinov: We didn’t hope to achieve anything – we just felt we have to speak
23.08.2018 British author Nigel Peace publishes powerful love-story set against the backdrop of 1968 invasion
22.08.2018 ‘Occupation 1968’ documents invasion, aftermath from soldiers’ viewpoint
22.08.2018 Jan Palach’s act was in part directed at future generations, says director of new film
22.08.2018 A Prayer for Marta crowns huge concert marking invasion anniversary
All related articles