Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the “Two-Thousand Words”, a declaration that was one of the first and most important steps of the national revival referred to as the Prague Spring. The manifesto, which appeared in several publications, posed important questions for the future of democratic reforms in communist Czechoslovakia.
The climate in Prague in the spring of 1968 was one of liberalization and reform. Laws were passed to abolish censorship and cultivate ‘democratic socialism’. As communist Czechoslovakia opened itself up to the West, the USSR looked on with increasing disapproval. On the night of August 20, Soviet-led troops invaded Prague to bring an end to the reforms. Some of the photos of the turmoil that ensued have just gone on display in Prague.
You may not be familiar with the name Josef Koudelka, but there is a very good chance you will know his work. And we’re all sure to see a lot more of it as the August anniversary of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia draws nearer. Koudelka’s striking black-and-white shots of tanks in the centre of Prague and other images from that turbulent period are regarded as some of the most important works of photojournalism of the 20th century.
Writers from all over the world gathered in Prague this week to recall the strange days of 1968. The Prague Writers’ Festival, which was originally set up to promote Central European writing abroad, attracted a larger-than-ever number of authors to the Czech capital – here to recall the Prague Spring of 1968, as well as what they themselves were up to, the year that shook the world.
Czechoslovakia was the last communist country of Central and Eastern Europe to host Soviet troops during the Cold War. They arrived in 1968 as “brotherly assistance” to help keep the communist hardliners in power, and they stayed until the fall of communism 19 years later. One of the top secrets of the military command was the fact that the Soviets deployed nuclear warheads on Czechoslovak territory.
Former Czechoslovak TV journalist Ludmila Sýkorová has published a book on the events that took place in Brno during the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Ms Jankovcová said she attempted an objective approach to the events any compensation were shot dead by the Soviet troops in Brno on August 21, the first day of the occupation, while many more suffered injuries inflicted by the occupation forces.
Monday marks the 60th anniversary of the mysterious death of Jan Masaryk, foreign minister of Czechoslovakia in the 1940s and son of the country’s founder and its first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. On the morning of March 10, Jan Masaryk’s body was found in the courtyard of Černín Palace, the seat of the Foreign Ministry. To this day his tragic death remains unexplained and is one of the great mysteries of modern Czech history.
Thirty years ago Vladimír Remek became the first man in space who was not from either the United States or the Soviet Union. Remek became a hero not in only in his native Czechoslovakia but throughout the Eastern Bloc after taking part in an eight-day Soviet space mission in March 1978. The former cosmonaut spoke to me about his memories of that historic flight – and the propaganda which accompanied it
Wednesday marks the 39th anniversary of the death of Jan Palach, a Prague student, who set himself alight on Prague’s Wenceslas Square in protest of the general apathy that followed the Soviet led invasion in Czechoslovakia in 1968. His funeral was attended by thousands of people and he became a symbol of Czechoslovak resistance. Students and politicians, including Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, gathered outside the Philosophical Faculty on Wednesday to commemorate Jan Palach’s sacrifice. The faculty has also presented its projects for next year’s 40th anniversary of Palach’s death.
A team of American experts who have been inspecting the potential site of the radar base in the Brdy locality say that if an agreement is reached they would not want to reside in barracks formerly used by Soviet troops who were stationed in the country following the crushing of the Prague Spring reforms. The US team said they would prefer to build their own housing facilities from scratch. The villages bordering on the locality are vehemently opposed to the US radar and the Czech government has attempted to soften their stand with the promise of millions of crowns in state subsidies.
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Wide range of events in store for Czechs this weekend as 30-year anniversary of Velvet Revolution reaches climax
Hundreds of thousands again gather in Prague to voice their opposition to prime minister
Shabby pub profits from nostalgia
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