The reforms, especially the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets, who, after failed negotiations, sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. The New York Times
cited reports of 650,000 men equipped with the most modern and sophisticated weapons in the Soviet military catalogue.
A massive wave of emigration swept the nation. Resistance was mounted throughout the country, involving attempted fraternization
, sabotage of street signs, defiance of curfews, etc. While the Soviet military had predicted that it would take four days to subdue the country, the resistance held out for eight months until diplomatic maneuvers finally circumvented it. It became a high-profile example of civilian-based defense
; there were sporadic acts of violence and several protest suicides by self-immolation
(the most famous being that of Jan Palach
), but no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained controlled by the Soviet Union until 1989, when the Velvet Revolution
peacefully ended the communist regime; the last Soviet troops left the country in 1991.
The process of de-Stalinization
in Czechoslovakia had begun under Antonín Novotný
in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but had progressed more slowly than in most other states of the Eastern Bloc
Following the lead of Nikita Khrushchev
, Novotný proclaimed the completion of socialism
, and the new constitution
accordingly adopted the name Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
. The pace of change, however, was sluggish; the rehabilitation of Stalinist-era victims, such as those convicted in the Slánský trials
, may have been considered as early as 1963, but did not take place until 1967.
In the early 1960s
, Czechoslovakia underwent an economic downturn.
The Soviet model of industrialization
applied poorly to Czechoslovakia since the country was already quite industrialized before World War II and the Soviet model mainly took into account less developed economies. Novotný's attempt at restructuring the economy, the 1965 New Economic Model
, spurred increased demand for political reform as well.
1963 Liblice Conference
In May 1963, some Marxist intellectuals organized the Liblice Conference
that discussed Franz Kafka
's life, marking the beginning of the cultural democratization
of Czechoslovakia which ultimately led to the 1968 Prague Spring,
an era of political liberalization. This conference was unique because it symbolized Kafka's rehabilitation
in the Eastern Bloc
after having been heavily criticized, led to a partial opening up of the regime and influenced the relaxation of censorship
. It also had an international impact as a representative from all Eastern Bloc countries were invited to the Conference; only the Soviet Union did not send any representative. This conference had a revolutionary effect and paved the way for the reforms while making Kafka the symbol of the renaissance of Czechoslovakian artistic and intellectual freedom.
As the strict regime eased its rules, the Union of Czechoslovak Writers
(Cz: Svaz československých spisovatelů
) cautiously began to air discontent. In Literární noviny,
the union's previously hard-line communist weekly, members suggested that literature should be independent of Party doctrine
A few months later, at a meeting of Party leaders, it was decided that administrative actions against the writers who openly expressed support of reformation would be taken. Since only a small group of the union held these beliefs, the remaining members were relied upon to discipline their colleagues.
Control over Literární noviny
and several other publishers was transferred to the Ministry of Culture
and even some leaders of the Party who later became major reformers—including Dubček—endorsed these moves.
As President Antonín Novotný was losing support, Alexander Dubček
, First Secretary
of the Communist Party of Slovakia
, and economist Ota Šik
challenged him at a meeting of the Central Committee
of the Party. Novotný then invited the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Soviet Union
, Leonid Brezhnev
, to Prague
that December, seeking support;
Brezhnev, however, was surprised at the extent of the opposition to Novotný and so he rather supported his removal. Dubček replaced Novotný as First Secretary on 5 January 1968.
On 22 March Novotný resigned and was replaced by Ludvík Svoboda
, who later gave consent to the reforms.
Early signs of change were few. In an interview with KSČ Presidium member Josef Smrkovský
published in the Party journal Rudé Právo
with the title "What Lies Ahead", he insisted that Dubček's appointment at the January Plenum would further the goals of socialism
and maintain the working class
nature of the Party.
However, right after Dubček assumed power, the scholar Eduard Goldstücker
became chairman of the Union of Czechoslovak Writers
and thus editor-in-chief of the Literární noviny
which under Novotny had been filled with party loyalists.
Goldstücker tested the boundaries of Dubček's devotion to freedom of the press when on 4 February he appeared in a television interview as the new head of the union. During the interview he openly criticized Novotny, exposing all of Novotny's previously unreported policies and explaining how they were preventing progress in Czechoslovakia.
Goldstücker suffered no repercussions, Dubček instead began to build a sense of trust among the media, the government, and the citizens.
It was under Goldstücker that the journal's name was changed to Literární listy
, and on 29 February, the Union published the first copy of the censor-free journal.
By August, Literární listy
had a circulation of 300,000, making it the most published periodical in Europe.
Socialism with a human face
At the 20th anniversary
of Czechoslovakia's "Victorious February
", Dubček delivered a speech explaining the need for change following the triumph of socialism. He emphasized the need to "enforce the leading role of the party more effectively"
and acknowledged that, despite Klement Gottwald
's urgings for better relations with society, the Party had too often made heavy-handed rulings on trivial issues. Dubček declared the party's mission was "to build an advanced socialist society on sound economic foundations ... a socialism that corresponds to the historical democratic traditions of Czechoslovakia, in accordance with the experience of other communist parties ..."
One of the most important steps towards the reform was the reduction and later abolition of the censorship
on 4 March 1968. It was for the first time in Czech history the censorship was abolished and it was also probably the only reform fully implemented, although only for a short period. Changing from an instrument of party propaganda, media quickly became the instrument of criticism of the regime.
In April, Dubček launched an "Action Programme
" of liberalizations, which included increasing freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement, with economic emphasis on consumer goods
and the possibility of a multiparty government. The programme was based on the view that "Socialism cannot mean only liberation of the working people from the domination of exploiting class relations, but must make more provisions for a fuller life of the personality than any bourgeois democracy."
It would limit the power of the secret police
and provide for the federalization
of the ČSSR into two equal nations.
The programme also covered foreign policy, including both the maintenance of good relations with Western countries and cooperation with the Soviet Union
and other Eastern Bloc
It spoke of a ten-year transition through which democratic elections would be made possible and a new form of democratic socialism would replace the status quo.
Those who drafted the Action Programme were careful not to criticize the actions of the post-war Communist regime, only to point out policies that they felt had outlived their usefulness. For instance, the immediate post-war situation had required "centralist and directive-administrative methods"
to fight against the "remnants of the bourgeoisie
Since the "antagonistic classes"
were said to have been defeated with the achievement of socialism, these methods were no longer necessary. Reform was needed for the Czechoslovak economy to join the "scientific-technical revolution in the world",
rather than relying on Stalinist-era heavy industry
, labour power, and raw materials.
Furthermore, since internal class conflict had been overcome, workers could now be duly rewarded for their qualifications and technical skills without contravening Marxism-Leninism
. The Programme suggested it was now necessary to ensure important positions were "filled by capable, educated socialist expert cadres" in order to compete with capitalism.
The programme of "socialism with a human face"
Although it was stipulated that reform must proceed under KSČ direction, popular pressure mounted to implement reforms immediately.
Radical elements became more vocal: anti-Soviet polemics appeared in the press on 26 June 1968,
the Social Democrats
began to form a separate party, and new unaffiliated political clubs were created. Party conservatives urged repressive measures, but Dubček counselled moderation and re-emphasized KSČ leadership.
At the Presidium of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
in April, Dubček announced a political programme of "socialism with a human face
In May, he announced that the Fourteenth Party Congress would convene in an early session on 9 September. The congress would incorporate the Action Programme into the party statutes, draft a federalization law, and elect a new Central Committee.
Dubček's reforms guaranteed freedom of the press, and political commentary was allowed for the first time in mainstream media.
At the time of the Prague Spring, Czechoslovak exports were declining in competitiveness, and Dubček's reforms planned to solve these troubles by mixing planned
and market economies
. Within the party, there were varying opinions on how this should proceed; certain economists wished for a more mixed economy
while others wanted the economy to remain mostly planned. Dubček continued to stress the importance of economic reform proceeding under Communist Party rule.
On 27 June Ludvík Vaculík
, a leading author and journalist, published a manifesto titled The Two Thousand Words
. It expressed concern about conservative elements within the KSČ and so-called "foreign" forces. Vaculík called on the people to take the initiative in implementing the reform programme.
Dubček, the party Presidium, the National Front, and the cabinet denounced this manifesto.
Publications and media
Prague, 1968-08, "Periscope ƒilm"
Dubček's relaxation of censorship ushered in a brief period of freedom of speech and the press.
The first tangible manifestation of this new policy of openness was the production of the previously hard-line communist weekly Literární noviny
, renamed Literární listy
Freedom of the press also opened the door for the first honest look at Czechoslovakia's past by Czechoslovakia's people. Many of the investigations centered on the country's history under communism, especially in the instance of the Joseph Stalin
In another television appearance, Goldstücker presented both doctored and undoctored photographs of former communist leaders who had been purged, imprisoned, or executed and thus erased from communist history.
The Writers' Union also formed a committee in April 1968, headed by the poet Jaroslav Seifert
, to investigate the persecution of writers after the Communist takeover in February 1948
and rehabilitate the literary figures into the Union, bookstores and libraries, and the literary world.
Discussions on the current state of communism and abstract ideas such as freedom and identity were also becoming more common; soon, non-party publications began appearing, such as the trade union daily Prace
(Labour). This was also helped by the Journalists' Union, which by March 1968 had already persuaded the Central Publication Board, the government censor, to allow editors to receive uncensored subscriptions to foreign papers, allowing for a more international dialogue around the news.
The press, the radio, and the television also contributed to these discussions by hosting meetings where students and young workers could ask questions of writers such as Goldstücker, Pavel Kohout
, and Jan Prochazka and political victims such as Josef Smrkovský
, Zdenek Hejzlar, and Gustáv Husák
Television also broadcast meetings between former political prisoners and the communist leaders from the secret police or prisons where they were held.
Most importantly, this new freedom of the press and the introduction of television into the lives of everyday Czechoslovak citizens moved the political dialogue from the intellectual to the popular sphere.
At a meeting in Dresden, East Germany
on 23 March, the leaders of the "Warsaw Five" (USSR
and East Germany
) questioned the Czechoslovak delegation over the planned reforms, suggesting any talk of "democratization" was a veiled criticism of the Soviet model.
The Polish Party
leader Władysław Gomułka
and János Kádár were less concerned with the reforms themselves than with the growing criticisms levelled by the Czechoslovak media, and worried that the situation might be "similar to...the "Hungarian counterrevolution
Some of the language in the Action Programme may have been chosen to assert that no "counterrevolution" was planned, but Kieran Williams
suggests that Dubček was perhaps surprised at, but not resentful of, Soviet suggestions.
The Soviet leadership tried to stop, or at least limit the changes in the ČSSR through a series of negotiations. The Soviet Union agreed to bilateral
talks with Czechoslovakia in July at Čierna nad Tisou
, near the Soviet border. At the meeting, from 29 July to 1 August, with attendance of Brezhnev, Alexei Kosygin
, Nikolai Podgorny
, Mikhail Suslov
and others on the Soviet side and Dubček, Svoboda, Oldřich Černík
and others on the Czechoslovak side, Dubček defended the proposals of the KSČ's reformist wing while pledging commitment to the Warsaw Pact and Comecon
The KSČ leadership, however, was divided between vigorous reformers (Smrkovský, Černík, and František Kriegel
) and hardliners (Vasil Biľak
, Drahomír Kolder
, and Oldřich Švestka
) who adopted an anti-reformist stance.
Brezhnev decided on compromise. The KSČ delegates reaffirmed their loyalty to the Warsaw Pact and promised to curb "anti-socialist" tendencies, prevent the revival of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party
and control the press more effectively. The Soviets agreed to withdraw their armed forces
still in Czechoslovakia after manoeuvres in June and permit the 9 September Party Congress
On 3 August representatives from the "Warsaw Five" and Czechoslovakia met in Bratislava
and signed the Bratislava Declaration
. The declaration affirmed unshakable fidelity to Marxism-Leninism
and proletarian internationalism
, declared an implacable struggle against "bourgeois" ideology
and all "anti-socialist" forces.
The Soviet Union expressed its intention to intervene in any Warsaw Pact country if a "bourgeois" system—a pluralist
system of several political parties
representing different factions of the "capitalist classes"—was ever established. After the conference, the Soviet troops left Czechoslovak territory but remained along its borders.
As these talks proved unsatisfactory, the Soviets began to consider a military alternative. The Soviet policy of compelling the socialist governments of its satellite states
to subordinate their national interests to those of the Eastern Bloc (through military force if needed) became known as the Brezhnev Doctrine
On the night of 20–21 August, Eastern Bloc armies from four Warsaw Pact countries—the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary—invaded the ČSSR.
That night, 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks entered the country.
They first occupied the Ruzyně International Airport
, where air deployment of more troops was arranged. The Czechoslovak forces
were confined to their barracks, which were surrounded until the threat of a counter-attack was assuaged. By the morning of 21 August Czechoslovakia was occupied.
, and Albania
refused to take part in the invasion.
Soviet command refrained from drawing upon East German
troops for fear of reviving memories of the Nazi invasion in 1938.
During the invasion 72 Czechs
were killed (19 of those in Slovakia
), 266 severely wounded and another 436 slightly injured.
Alexander Dubček called upon his people not to resist.
Nevertheless, there was scattered resistance in the streets. Road signs in towns were removed or painted over—except for those indicating the way to Moscow.
Many small villages renamed themselves "Dubcek" or "Svoboda"; thus, without navigational equipment, the invaders were often confused.
On the night of the invasion the Czechoslovak Presidium
declared that Warsaw Pact troops had crossed the border without the knowledge of the ČSSR government, but the Soviet Press
printed an unsigned request—allegedly by Czechoslovak party and state leaders—for "immediate assistance, including assistance with armed forces".
At the 14th KSČ Party Congress
(conducted secretly, immediately following the intervention), it was emphasized that no member of the leadership had invited the intervention.
More recent evidence suggests that conservative KSČ members (including Biľak, Švestka, Kolder, Indra, and Kapek) did send a request for intervention to the Soviets.
The invasion was followed by a previously unseen wave of emigration
, which was stopped shortly thereafter. An estimated 70,000 citizens fled the country immediately with an eventual total of some 300,000.
Until recently there was some uncertainty as to what provocation
, if any, occurred to make the Warsaw Pact armies invade. Preceding the invasion was a rather calm period without any major events taking place in Czechoslovakia.
Reactions to the invasion
Romanian Prime Secretary Nicolae Ceauşescu
gives a speech critical of the invasion, in front of a crowd in Bucharest, 21 August 1968
The generalized resistance caused the Soviet Union to abandon its original plan to oust the First Secretary. Dubček, who had been arrested on the night of 20 August, was taken to Moscow for negotiations. There, he and several other leaders (including all the highest-ranked officials, President Svoboda, Prime Minister Černík and Chairman of the National Assembly Smrkovský) signed the Moscow Protocol
, under heavy psychological pressure from Soviet politicians, and it was agreed that Dubček would remain in office and a programme of moderate reform would continue.
On 25 August citizens of the Soviet Union who did not approve of the invasion protested in Red Square
; seven protesters opened banners with anti-invasion slogans. The demonstrators were brutally beaten and arrested by security forces, and later punished by a secret tribunal; the protest was dubbed "anti-Soviet" and several people were detained in psychiatric hospitals.
Helsinki demonstration against the invasion of Czechoslovakia
Most countries offered only vocal criticism following the invasion. The night of the invasion, Canada, Denmark, France, Paraguay, the United Kingdom and the United States requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council
At the meeting, the Czechoslovak ambassador Jan Muzik
denounced the invasion. Soviet ambassador Jacob Malik
insisted the Warsaw Pact actions were "fraternal assistance" against "antisocial forces".
One of the nations that most vehemently condemned the invasion was China, which objected furiously to the so-called "Brezhnev Doctrine
" that declared the Soviet Union alone had the right to determine what nations were properly Communist and could invade those Communist nations whose communism did not meet the Kremlin's approval. Mao Zedong
saw the Brezhnev doctrine as the ideological basis for a Soviet invasion of China, and launched a massive propaganda campaign condemning the invasion of Czechoslovakia, despite his own earlier opposition to the Prague Spring.
Speaking at a banquet at the Romanian embassy in Beijing on 23 August 1968, the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai
denounced the Soviet Union for "fascist politics, great power chauvinism, national egoism and social imperialism", going on to compare the invasion of Czechoslovakia to the American war in Vietnam and more pointedly to the policies of Adolf Hitler towards Czechoslovakia in 1938–39.
Zhou ended his speech with a barely veiled call for the people of Czechoslovakia to wage guerrilla war against the Red Army.
The next day, several countries suggested a United Nations
resolution condemning the intervention and calling for immediate withdrawal. Eventually, a UN vote was taken with ten members supporting the motion; Algeria, India, and Pakistan abstained; the USSR (with veto power) and Hungary opposed. Canadian delegates immediately introduced another motion asking for a UN representative to travel to Prague and work toward the release of the imprisoned Czechoslovak leaders.
By 26 August a new Czechoslovak representative requested the whole issue be removed from the Security Council's agenda. Shirley Temple Black
visited Prague in August 1968 to prepare for becoming the US Ambassador for a free Czechoslovakia. However, after the 21 August invasion she became part of a U.S. Embassy-organized convoy of vehicles that evacuated U.S. citizens from the country.
In August 1989, she returned to Prague as U.S. Ambassador, three months before the Velvet Revolution
that ended 41 years of Communist rule.
Memorial to the victims of the invasion, located in Liberec
In April 1969, Dubček was replaced as first secretary by Gustáv Husák
, and a period of "normalization
Dubček was expelled from the KSČ and given a job as a forestry official.
Husák reversed Dubček's reforms, purged the party of its liberal members, and dismissed from public office professional and intellectual elites who openly expressed disagreement with the political transformation.
Husák worked to reinstate the power of the police and strengthen ties with the rest of the Communist bloc. He also sought to re-centralize
the economy, as a considerable amount of freedom had been granted to industries during the Prague Spring.
Commentary on politics was forbidden in mainstream media, and political statements by anyone not considered to have "full political trust" were also banned.
The only significant change that survived was the federalization of the country
, which created the Czech Socialist Republic
and the Slovak Socialist Republic
in 1969. In 1987, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
acknowledged that his liberalizing policies of glasnost
owed a great deal to Dubček's "socialism with a human face".
When asked what the difference was between the Prague Spring and Gorbachev's own reforms, a Foreign Ministry spokesman replied, "Nineteen years."
Normalization and censorship
The Warsaw Pact invasion included attacks on media establishments, such as Radio Prague
and Czechoslovak Television
, almost immediately after the initial tanks rolled into Prague on 21 August 1968.
While both the radio station and the television station managed to hold out for at least enough time for initial broadcasts of the invasion, what the Soviets did not attack by force they attacked by reenacting party censorship. In reaction to the invasion, on 28 August 1968, all Czechoslovak publishers agreed to halt production of newspapers for the day to allow for a "day of reflection" for the editorial staffs.
Writers and reporters agreed with Dubcek to support a limited reinstitution of the censorship office, as long as the institution was to only last three months.
Finally, by September 1968, the Czechoslovak Communist Party
plenum was held to instate the new censorship law. In the words of the Moscow-approved resolution, "The press, radio, and television are first of all the instruments for carrying into life the policies of the Party and state."
While this was not yet the end of the media's freedom after the Prague Spring, it was the beginning of the end. During November, the Presidium, under Husak, declared that the Czechoslovak press could not make any negative remarks about the Soviet invaders or they would risk violating the agreement they had come to at the end of August. When the weeklies Reporter
responded harshly to this threat, even going so far as to not so subtly criticize the Presidium itself in Politika
, the government banned Reporter
for a month, suspended Politika
indefinitely, and prohibited any political programs from appearing on the radio or television.
The intellectuals were stuck at an impasse; they recognized the government's increasing normalization, but they were unsure whether to trust that the measures were only temporary or demand more. For example, still believing in Dubcek's promises for reform, Milan Kundera
published the article "Cesky udel" (Our Czech Destiny) in Literarni listy
on 19 December.
He wrote: "People who today are falling into depression and defeatism, commenting that there are not enough guarantees, that everything could end badly, that we might again end up in a marasmus of censorship and trials, that this or that could happen, are simply weak people, who can live only in illusions of certainty."
In March 1969, however, the new Soviet-backed Czechoslovakian government instituted full censorship, effectively ending the hopes that normalization would lead back to the freedoms enjoyed during the Prague Spring. A declaration was presented to the Presidium condemning the media as co-conspirators against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in their support of Dubcek's liberalization measures. Finally, on 2 April 1969, the government adopted measures "to secure peace and order" through even stricter censorship, forcing the people of Czechoslovakia to wait until the thawing of Eastern Europe
for the return of a free media.
The Prague Spring deepened the disillusionment of many Western leftists with Soviet
views. It contributed to the growth of Eurocommunist
ideas in Western communist parties, which sought greater distance from the Soviet Union and eventually led to the dissolution of many of these groups.
A decade later, a period of Chinese political liberalization became known as the Beijing Spring
. It also partly influenced the Croatian Spring
in Communist Yugoslavia
In a 1993 Czech survey, 60% of those surveyed had a personal memory linked to the Prague Spring while another 30% were familiar with the events in another form.
The demonstrations and regime changes taking place in North Africa and the Middle East from December 2010 have frequently been referred to as an "Arab Spring
In film there has been an adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being
, and also the movie Pelíšky
from director Jan Hřebejk
and screenwriter Petr Jarchovský, which depicts the events of the Prague Spring and ends with the invasion by the Soviet Union and their allies.
The Czech musical film, Rebelové
from Filip Renč
, also depicts the events, the invasion and subsequent wave of emigration.
The number 68
has become iconic in the former Czechoslovakia
player Jaromír Jágr
, whose grandfather died in prison during the rebellion, wears the number because of the importance of the year in Czechoslovak history.
A former publishing house based in Toronto
, 68 Publishers
, that published books by exiled Czech and Slovak authors, took its name from the event.
The anarchist Colin Ward
argues that a significantly anarchist street culture developed during the Prague Spring as citizens became increasingly defiant of government authorities and began to occupy workplaces and created mutual aid
networks between telephone workers, truck drivers and university students. Furthermore, during the Soviet invasion, anarchists took to the streets and battled tanks and soldiers with rocks, Molotov cocktails and improvised weapons.
Places and historical sites
The photographs were taken in Vinohradská Avenue and Wenceslas Square
are widely represented in the photographic archive of the 1968 invasion while other sites of protests are missing. The memory of the Prague Spring is marked by the Czech republic's and Slovakia's desire to avoid unpleasant collective memories leading to a process of historical amnesia and narrative whitewashing. Photographs taken by Josef Koudelka
portray memories of the invasion such as a memorial to the victims set up in Wenceslas Square. There are many omnipresent signs of memorial of the Soviet invasion in the city of Prague.
During the invasion, protesters set up several memorials to record the location of the victims’ death. The Jan Palach
memorial is a monument remembering the suicide of a student in 1969. This place is often called the "boulevard of history" Palach was the first to kill himself in Wenceslas Square
but was not the last, he was belonging to a student pact of resistance.
There is also the memorial for the victims of communism in Prague is a narrowing staircase along which seven male bronze silhouettes descend. The first one, the one at the bottom, is complete, while the others gradually disappear. It aims at representing the same person at different phases of the destruction caused by communist ideology.
The Prague Spring has deeply marked the history of communism in Eastern Europe even though its outcomes were modest. Rather than remembering the cultural democratization, the opening of the press and its impact on the emergence of a new form of socialism, history textbooks consider Prague Spring as one of the major crises of Socialism in the Soviet bloc[according to whom?]
. The memory has acquired a negative significance as marking disillusion of political hopes within Eastern European communism. Indeed, long hidden and rejected from the collective memory, the Prague Spring of 1968 is rarely commemorated in Prague and is often considered a painful defeat, a symbol of disappointed hope and surrender that heralds twenty years of 'normalisation'
. It was not until the 2000s, following the publication of texts dating from 1968, such as Milan Kundera, "Cesky udel" (The Czech Fate), and Vaclav Havel
, "Cesky udel?"
published in 2007 in the weekly magazine Literarni Noviny (52/1)
, that the debate on the Prague Spring resumed. Indeed, the posterity of the Prague Spring remains first and foremost the memory of the military intervention of the Warsaw Pact as well as the failure of reform within a communist regime, which definitely discredited the Dubcekian "revisionist" perspective in the East
. The memory of the Prague Spring is thus largely obscured and often overviewed[by whom?]
. Indeed, the Prague Spring also deeply impacted the Czech society and should also be remembered for the cultural momentum that accompanied and illustrated this movement, of which there are still films, novels, and plays[specify]
. The Prague Spring also influenced a renewal of the Prague artistic and cultural scene as well as a liberalization of society which deeply marked the following years. The 1960s indeed saw the emergence of a major shift in Czechoslovakia with cultural changes and movement coming from the West, notably rock music and sub-cultural movements which are the symbol of cultural renewal for Czechoslovakia
. The Czech sixties were thus a process of emancipation of culture from the constraints of existing political structures and were the prelude to the upheavals of 1968. In fact, the regime's political crisis did not begin with Dubcek's election as party leader on 5 January 1968, but with the break-up speeches delivered at the Writers' Congress in June 1967 by Ludvik Vaculik
, Milan Kundera
and Antonin Liehm
. In addition, the revitalization of society was also an essential component of the Prague Spring. Indeed, the great achievements of the Prague Spring, i. e. the abolition of censorship, the restoration of individual and collective freedoms... have revitalized society, which has begun to express itself more freely. Although the Prague Spring only restored what had existed thirty years earlier in Czechoslovakia, the spring of 1968 had a profound and long-lasting impact on the society.[failed verification]
Recently, the anniversary of the 50 years of the conflict raised the question of the memory of the Prague Spring. The European Commission
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič
, himself a Slovak, reminded us on the occasion that "we should never tolerate a breach of international law, crushing people's legitimate yearning for freedom and democracy".
The European justice commissioner Věra Jourová
also made a speech. However, the memory is still very conflicted as demonstrated when the Czech Republic's pro-Russian President Miloš Zeman
refused to attend any ceremony remembering the Prague Spring and didn't give any speech in memory of the numerous deaths.
The memory of the Prague Spring is also transmitted through testimonies of former Czechoslovak citizens. In a 2018 article, Radio Free Europe
collected testimonies of four women who witnessed the Warsaw Pact troops invasion and bravely acted. Stanislava Draha who volunteered to help some of the 500 wounded testifies says that the invasion had a major impact on her life. Besides, Vera Homolova, a radio reporter broadcasting the invasion from a covert studio testifies " I experienced the Soviet-led troops shooting recklessly into the Czechoslovak Radio's building, into windows" . In the aftermath, Vera Roubalova, who reacted as a student to the occupation by demonstrating posters, that tensions were still present towards the countries that occupied Czechoslovakia. On the night of August 20–21, 137 Czechoslovaks died during the invasion.
- ^ Czech radio broadcasts 18–20 August 1968
- ^ New York Times September 2, 1968
- ^ Williams (1997), p. 170
- ^ Williams (1997), p. 7
- ^ Skilling (1976), p. 47
- ^ "Photius.com, (info from CIA world Factbook)". Photius Coutsoukis. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
- ^ Williams (1997), p. 5
- ^ Bahr, E. (1970). "Kafka and the Prague Spring". Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. 3 (4): 15–29. ISSN 0027-1276. JSTOR 24776229.
- ^ a b c d e Williams (1997), p. 55
- ^ Navrátil (2006), pp. 18–20
- ^ Navazelskis (1990)
- ^ "Antonin Novotný Biography". Libri publishing house. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- ^ Navrátil (2006), p. 46
- ^ a b c d Williams, p. 68
- ^ a b c d e f Bren, Paulina (2010). The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. pp. 23ff. ISBN 978-0-8014-4767-9.
- ^ a b Williams, p. 69
- ^ Holý, Jiří. Writers Under Siege: Czech Literature Since 1945. Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2011, p. 119
- ^ a b Navrátil (2006), pp. 52–54
- ^ Vondrová, Jitka (25 June 2008). "Pražské Jaro 1968". Akademický bulletin (in Czech). Akademie věd ČR. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
- ^ Hoppe, Jiří (6 August 2008). "Co je Pražské jaro 1968?". iForum (in Czech). Charles University. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
- ^ Ello (1968), pp. 32, 54
- ^ Von Geldern, James; Siegelbaum, Lewis. "The Soviet-led Intervention in Czechoslovakia". Soviethistory.org. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
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