This August 21 marks the 49th anniversary of the Russian-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Wenceslas Square in Prague has been a pivotal location throughout Czech history, and that certainly applies to 1968, when Soviet tanks symbolically “conquered” Czechoslovakia by taking over this thoroughfare. Jan Urban is a journalist, teacher and author. He was just seventeen years old at the time of the invasion. He joined me at the bottom of Wenceslas Square to think back on those turbulent and painful days that marked the end of the Prague
A new book by Czech historians specifies the number of victims of the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia. According to the book, called Occupation 1968 and its Victims, a total of 137 Czechs and Slovaks died as a result of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and 400 people in the following years.
Professor Igor Lukeš teaches at Boston University and has written extensively on modern Czech history, the Cold War and contemporary developments in Central and Eastern Europe. When we spoke recently the conversation took in everything from his increasingly sympathetic view of Neville Chamberlain to his own arrival in New York in the late 1970s. But I first asked the renowned historian about his early life in communist Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia will unite next year to celebrate two major anniversaries: 100 years since the foundation of Czechoslovakia and the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Prague Spring and its subsequent crushing by Soviet-led forces. The celebrations are set to be bigger than ever, with nearly 200 events scheduled to take place over the course of the year.
Czechs are marking the 48th anniversary of the self-immolation of student Jan Palach, a brave protest against the loss of freedom and gradual apathy following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. One of the most painful moments of the country’s modern history, Palach’s suicide remains a powerful memento that democracy must be nurtured and defended.
In reaction to the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he believed in the strengthening of civil liberties in Cuba. He also said that Castro embodied people`s hopes as a revolutionary leader before turning in a dictator. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said could never forget that the former Cuban leader supported the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, expressed his sympathy to his family and his nation, adding that he regarded Castro as a fighter for freedom of Cuban people.
Moscow has accused the West of waging a propaganda war against Russia and is considering setting up a centre where historians who would compile a “correct” interpretation of history as seen by the Kremlin. One of the milestone events which have reportedly been “misinterpreted” is the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The sad news was announced on Wednesday that the most successful ever Czech Olympic athlete, Věra Čáslavská, died at the age of 74. She had been battling cancer of the pancreas. The gymnast will be remembered not just for her medals but for her protest against the Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
A memorial service at the Czech Radio building on Prague’s Vinohradská St. on Sunday morning commemorated the 48th invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. The then Czechoslovak Radio building saw some of the bloodiest clashes after tanks rolled into the country on the night of August 20 and 21 1968 to quell the Prague Spring reform movement. Among the speakers at Sunday’s ceremony was MP Karel Schwarzenberg, who said it was not only important to honour the fallen heroes of that time – it was necessary to fight for the freedom of speech in all eras. Other participants included the ministers of human rights and culture, Jiří Dienstbier and Daniel Herman. Mr. Dienstbier said Russia today was pursuing a policy of limiting the sovereignty of other states and that the 1968 invasion showed that the best route for a country like the Czech Republic was cooperation within Europe.
Events are being held on Sunday remembering the 48th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops. Over 100 people died during the invasion, which began on the night of August 20 and 21 1968 and was the start of an occupation lasting over two decades. As every year a memorial ceremony is being held at Czech Radio, the scene of some of the bloodiest clashes 48 years ago, while the names of those who died during the invasion and on its first anniversary in 1969 will be read out by the statue of St. Wenceslas on Wenceslas Square. The occupation came in response to the Prague Spring reform movement, which saw a degree of liberalisation and an end to censorship in Communist Czechoslovakia.
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