Finns Pentti Avomaa and Markku Pekonen were students when they visited Prague in August 1968, keen to learn about Communist Czechoslovakia’s liberal reforms at first hand. However, soon after their arrival they found themselves caught up in a Warsaw Pact military operation to crush the Prague Spring. Now in their early 70s, the pair have come back to Prague to take part in events marking the invasion’s 50th anniversary.
To mark the anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia of 1968, Czech Radio’s Creative Hub Group, in cooperation with Brainz digital agency, has prepared a special virtual reality studio. Visitors to the Czech Radio building can get a first-hand experience of what it feels like to stand in streets that are being invaded by Soviet tanks. I asked Edita Kudláčová, head of the Creative Hub Group, to tell me more about the project.
Czechoslovak Radio was a focal point of the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, with the streets around the station seeing the worst violence and the highest number of deaths. Today’s Czech Radio is marking those momentous events with a special 13-hour broadcast featuring both archival materials and new interviews with eye-witnesses.
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.