On August 21, 1968 the citizens of Czechoslovakia woke to learn that their country had overnight been invaded by Soviet-led troops, deployed to crush the Prague Spring reform movement. Over 100 people were killed during the invasion, which began a two-decade occupation, sparked mass emigration and dashed dreams of a freer future for a generation.
The National Museum on Prague’s Wenceslas Square has for years been a symbol of the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia, with its façade riddled with bullet holes from invading soldiers attacking the building. But there have been suggestions a recent renovation of the façade, set to be unveiled next week, has made the marks barely visible.
Soviet-led forces invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968 in response to the Prague Spring, a reform movement launched earlier that year by then freshly installed Communist Party chief Alexander Dubček. But how soon into Dubček’s rule did Moscow become concerned about developments in Prague? And what, if any, steps did the Slovak-born leader take to appease the Russians? Those are just a couple of the questions I discussed with Kieran Williams, who is the author of The Prague Spring and its Aftermath and teaches at Drake University in Des Moines,
The upcoming 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia has sparked controversy on the Czech political scene. Right-wing parties see the anniversary as an opportunity to protest against what they see as President Zeman’s pro-Russian orientation and the fact that the Communist Party is regaining an influence on national politics, while the Communist Party, which faces renewed hostility on the anniversary, is trying to play down Russia’s responsibility for the invasion.
Members of the Czech Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, Second World War veterans, church and cultural dignitaries attended celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Airforce at the Winged Lion Memorial in Prague’s Klarov park on Tuesday. The fact that both the Czechoslovak Airforce and the RAF are celebrating their centenary this year was an occasion to highlight the close ties between Czech and British airmen.
With the 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia fast approaching, an exhibition just launched at Prague’s Old Town Hall brings together almost 200 photographs documenting that time. Most belong in private archives and a number are being shown in public for the first time ever.
In the late summer of 1938, the fate of the Czechoslovak Republic was being decided. The Sudeten German-speaking minority wanted to split from the country and join Nazi Germany. Hitler threatened war on Czechoslovakia if their demands were not met. Britain and France were bound by treaties to help the Czechs but wanted desperately to avoid the war. So, they sent a special envoy to the country – Walter Runciman, 1st Viscount of Doxford, in short, Lord Runciman. Vít Pohanka found an episodic but fascinating story connected with Lord Runciman’s historic
A priceless Renaissance shield that was looted by the Nazis from Konopiště castle during WW2 is to return to the Czech Republic. Following months of negotiations, its current owner, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has acknowledged Czech ownership of the artefact and agreed to return it to the Czech Republic.
As part of this year’s celebrations of the centenary of modern Czech statehood, Czech president Miloš Zeman and his Slovak counterpart Andrej Kiska undertook a joint ride on a historical train to mark the anniversary of the declaration of independent Czechoslovakia and also to commemorate its first head of the state Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.