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Tag: Prague Spring

New conclusions from 1968

A review of Europäische Zeitenwende: Prager Frühling (European turning point: Prague Spring). Edited by Iris Kempe and Wim van Meurs. Publisher: ibidem-Verlag, 2021.

February 15, 2022 - Gerd Tebbe

1968 in Prague and Bratislava

The Prague Spring was originally the name of a musical festival that took part in the town every spring. In 1968, it became the description of a political hope. Yet, there was strong resistance against attempted reforms to give socialism a human face.

“1968” happened not only on the streets of the cities in the United States, in Paris and Berlin (West), but also in Prague and Bratislava. Soviet tanks and people on the street protesting against it determine the collective memory of this year. However, the eastern “1968” was more than that. There was a reform movement and a lot of hope. The changes started with the party congress of the Czechoslovak communists at the end of 1962. The Czechoslovak reforms did not begin in the streets as a protest movement against the rulers, but started at a meeting of the ruling party at which the communists criticised their own policies. The central keyword is political rehabilitation.

September 12, 2021 - Dieter Segert

Contemporary witnesses of change

Despite individual points of light from the 1968 Prague Spring, when Michal Reiman was a companion of Alexander Dubček, the path to democracy and freedom was not a straight one, but paved with control and arrests by the Soviet regime. Nevertheless, the contemporary witnesses were important carriers of the cycles of change.

With the coup of the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the communist party seized power in the Russian Empire for the first time. The revolutionary spark of the party in power in the Soviet Union did not, as Lenin and later Stalin intended, spread across Europe to shape societies. Instead, contacts to Moscow via Berlin to Vladivostok were continued as an instrument ranging from equality to state terror. The so-called great terror in 1937/38 was marked by excesses of socialist violence.

September 12, 2021 - Iris Kempe

Three weeks before the occupation. An interpreter’s memories

As a result of reforms taking place in 1968 Czechoslovakia, the Soviet leadership initiated a special conference to meet with Czechoslovak officials which took place from the end of July until the beginning of August in Čierna nad Tisou, a small remote town on the Soviet-Czechoslovak border (with the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). I participated as an interpreter and share, for the first time in print, my memories of this important time.

On July 28th, 1968, when I was working at the department of international relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, I was called and told that we should report to work with a bag packed and enough supplies for a few days. I was not permitted to discuss this with anyone, as it concerned a simultaneous interpretation at an international conference. When we arrived, nothing was explained, except that we would be travelling to Čierna. The participants were brought to the airfield where everything was ready for the government plane to take off. The entire Czechoslovakian delegation flew to the city of Košiše.

September 12, 2021 - Tamara Reiman

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