Exactly a year after the Prague Spring was crushed by a Warsaw Pact invasion, many thousands of Czechoslovaks went into the streets once more to protest their country’s occupation. The subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators, this time by their own countrymen, resulted in hundreds of arrests and even five deaths. It crushed the last vestiges of hope and persuaded the public that “normalisation” was here to stay.
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes has launched an
interactive map showing where victims of the 1968 invasion met their
deaths. It details the victims’ names and where, when and how they died
in connection with the Soviet-led invasion between August 1968 and August
The map’s co-creator, historian Milan Bárta, said that while people initially died in big cities, later victims met their deaths on country roads as the result of traffic accidents as soldiers were barred from entering cities and withdrew to the regions.
Link to map (in Czech): https://obetiokupace.dejepis21.cz/
T-Club is the name of one of the two gay clubs that operated in the Czech capital under Communism. The place, frequented by the LGBT community, was immortalized in a series of pictures taken by photographer Libuše Jarcovjáková. They are now on display within the Prague Pride festival, which got underway on Monday.
Union leaders at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes
(ÚSTR) have called on Senators to reject the election of former interior
minister František Bublan to the institute’s council.
ÚSTR's Miroslav Vodrážka and Petr Blažek argue that the former minister tried to dissolve the institute and therefore is not suited to join it. Bublan has denied that assertion.
Senators have the authority to appoint ÚSTR’s seven council members. Four candidates are proposed by civic initiatives, two by the Lower House of Parliament and one by the Czech President.
MPs have proposed Bublan and the historian Eduard Stehlík. The Senate is due to choose the councilors this coming week.
The Communist Party leadership is due to meet with representatives of the
ANO party on Tuesday to assess to what extent the minority government of
ANO and the Social Democrats is fulfilling the tolerance agreement with the
Communists which has enabled it to govern.
The Communist Party has tolerated the government in return for policy concessions and support for its own stated policy priorities, such as a tax on church restitutions and increased expenditures in the social sphere.
The Communist Party has so far shown no indication that it might withdraw this support over the scandals surrounding the prime minister or the drawn-out crisis concerning the culture minister.
Animator Gene Deitch settled in Prague almost 60 years ago and directed Tom and Jerry and Popeye cartoons behind the Iron Curtain for the US market. The small number of other Americans who moved here in the communist period were one subject we discussed in the second half of an extensive interview. But I began by asking Deitch about the time the great folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger, a good friend of his, visited Czechoslovakia in 1964.
The publication of the manifesto Několik vět, or A Few Sentences, was a milestone in the final year of communism in Czechoslovakia. After being broadcast by Radio Free Europe and Voice of America on June 29, 1989, the document – calling for the release of political prisoners and other freedoms – was eventually signed by around 40,000 people. I discussed its contribution to the eventual fall of communism with historian Jakub Jareš.
“Love, tolerance and creative freedom aren’t just for fairytales”. That’s the central message of a new documentary called The Art of Dissent, which celebrates artistic engagement in Czechoslovakia before and after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Written, directed and filmed by the American intellectual historian James D Le Sueur, the film aims to debunk the myth that life behind the Churchillian ‘Iron Curtain’ was static and grey, and to inspire viewers through the messages of Václav Havel and fellow former dissidents.
Saturday is the 30th anniversary of the publication of the dissident A Few
Sentences manifesto in the then illegal newspaper Lidové noviny, on June
22, 1989. The document demanded the end of criminalisation of
Czechoslovakia’s opposition, the release of political prisoners and the
lifting of a ban on public gatherings.
A Few Sentences is considered to have been officially declared on June 27, when its text was broadcast on Radio Free Europe. Over the coming months it was signed by around 40,000 people, making it the biggest action of its kind. Communism fell in Czechoslovakia five months later.
The early years of Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime were marked by hundreds of tragic stories which revolved around injustice, torture and in many cases death. One of the most famous is that of General Heliodor Píka, an exemplary First Republic general who, exactly 70 years ago, became the first victim of the rigged trials that typified the period.
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