Understanding the Prague Spring and what happened

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History shows hundreds of people died in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Perhaps we’ll never really know how many.

But we do know that a large number of them were callously run over by Russian tanks and war machines.

This was the  “normalisation” of society by the USSR and  life became a kind of internal exile for citizens for many years to come.

On August 21, 50 years ago the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia killed the dreams of Dubcek’s reformers, broke the spirit of a nation and whisked in an era of oppression.

And more than any event during the so-called Cold War, this invasion showed the world the totalitarian nature of the Soviet regime.

It may seem obvious with hindsight that the countries that fell under the cloak of Soviet influence after World War II were doomed to be victims of oppression.

At the end of the war Europe had been basically cut in half.

Russia was largely allowed to get on with oppression behind its Red Curtain because the Western world too was in turmoil.

The youth was in psychedelic revolt, Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr were murdered. And the Vietnam War raged on pointlessly.

The problem was that for four months in 1968 Czechoslovakia had broken free, allowing freedom of speech and removing some state controls.

This period is now referred to as the Prague Spring.

Then the Soviet Union led Warsaw Pact troops headed the  invasion of Czechoslovakia to crack down on the reformist in Prague. The Soviet Union spilt blood and spread terror to successfully halt the pace of reform.

Finally though, the Communists were pushed from power during the Velvet Revolution in November 1989.

It was then that Slovak leaders began talking openly about eventually creating a separate country. And against the wishes of many of its citizens, Czechoslovakia split into two countries, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Many believe the split of Czechoslovakia worked better for Slovakia. Many Czechs saw it as a partial loss of national identity.

The Slovaks however,  now appear a more confident nation and the EU is seen as an essential part of  both country’s integration with the rest of the world.

Finally both are staring varying degrees of success in the face.

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3 thoughts on “Understanding the Prague Spring and what happened

  1. Prague Spring – Pražské jaro 1968 thank you – I prefer to remain anonymous, but hopefully the small video contribution will keep the memory of that moment in history alive (too many Czechs and Slovaks have forgotten, and let their hate, xenophobia and fascination with Vladimir Putin’s power get the better of them during the Syrian refugee crisis). I want my people back … my materialistic, amoral, judgemental people back. Despite their flaws, I never knew them to harbour so much naivete and hate until the last three years!

  2. Jan Sestak Nice story Leigh, that should warn us against all kinds of comunism, also it is true that Czechoslovakia was in spite of 40 years of red totality a trade mark well known all over trhe world, but I think that we had to split in two parts because without it there would be problems all the time how many Czechs or Slovaks should represent Czechoslovakia, who should be the president, prime minister etc. Simply because Not everyone is like we From Moravia, who simply don´t care -:)

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