Photos: 52 Years Since a Soviet Invasion Ended the Prague Spring

Prague residents surround Soviet tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia August 21, 1968. Vera Machutova woke one August night in 1968 to the thunder of Soviet tanks surging through this Czech city on the East German frontier. Forty years later, with the Czech Republic now a democracy within NATO and the European Union, Machutova is troubled by the conflict in Georgia, whose army was routed last week by Russian forces that pushed deep inside its territory. The banner reads, “Entry forbidden to unauthorized personnel”. Picture taken August 21, 1968. To match feature CZECH-RUSSIA/INVASION REUTERS/Libor Hajsky (CZECH REPUBLIC) – GM1E48I1OC701

In 1968, during a period called the “Prague Spring,” Alexander Dubček, the newly elected leader of Czechoslovakia, enacted pro-democracy reforms that loosened state control and expanded individual rights, giving hope to citizens and angering the Soviet Union.

Soviet leaders in Moscow believed that Czechoslovakia, a member of the Warsaw Pact, had gone too far, and summoned the country’s leaders for discussions. By late summer, the talks were not going the way the Kremlin had wanted, so more than 2,000 tanks and thousands more Warsaw Pact troops were sent to invade and occupy the country on August 21.

In the first weeks, occupying soldiers were met with protests and limited resistance, and more than 70 civilians were killed in the conflicts.

 

File photo taken in August 1968 in Prague during confrontations between demonstrators and the Warsaw Pact troops and tanks.
/ AFP PHOTO / – (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Prague residents ride on top of a Soviet Army tank rolling down the Wenceslas Square in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. Banner reads:” Entry forbidden to unauthorized personnel”. REUTERS/Libor Hajsky

 

People throw Molotov cocktails and stones at Soviet Army tanks in front of Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia August 21, 1968. AP REUTERS/Libor Hajsky (CZECH REPUBLIC) – GF2E45J1BUZ01

 

Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia: Czech youths with the national colors pinned to their chests demonstrate in the streets here following the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. The banner they are carrying reads: “Never Again with the Soviet Union.”

 

A Red Army tank is out of action 8/21 after a bridge it was crossing gave way here. One witness said the bridge had been dynamited, but the span may have collapsed due to heavy weight of tanks crossing it.

 

Soviet Army soldiers sit on their tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. REUTERS/Libor Hajsky

 

Lone car passing dozens of Russian tanks during Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia during Prague Spring. (Photo by Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

 

Prague residents surround Soviet tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia August 21, 1968. REUTERS/Libor Hajsky

 

A barricade made from trucks and buses burns in front of the Czechoslovak Radio Station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. REUTERS/Libor Hajsky

 

A Soviet Army tank goes over a barricade made from trucks and buses in front of the Czechoslovak Radio Station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. REUTERS/Libor Hajsky

 

These shots show Czechoslovakia army trucks taking youngsters around the city as Soviet tanks halted on the outskirts and began siege of Czech army barracks. The youngsters wave Czechoslovakian National flags and chant national song and patriotic slogans.

 

Prague, Czechoslovakia: Czechs jeer a Soviet tank here as invading troops from the U.S.S.R. and four allied nations overthrew the liberal government. Defiant Czechs abandoned any major attempt to resist the takeover by force of arms. The occupation forces seized the nations reform leaders.

Leave a Reply
Related Posts
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap