12. 8. 2008 15:54

Exhibition 21. 8. - 26. 10. 2008: For Your Freedom and Ours

Protests against the invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968: Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union

The exhibition is held under the auspices of the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

Straka‘s Academy, nábřeží Edvarda Beneše 4, Prague 1 (entrance from Kosárkovo nábřeží)
The garden of the Strakova Academy, August 21, 2008 - October 2008
Open Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic 
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes

Author of the concept and exhibition editor:  
PhDr. Petr Blažek, Ph.D.

Texts written by:
Mgr. Jan Adamec, PhDr. Petr Blažek, Ph.D., Bc. Adam Hradílek, PhDr. Ivana Skálová, PhDr. Tomáš Vilímek

Mgr. Milan Bárta, Přemysl Fialka, Jiří Gruntorád, Štěpán Hlavsa, Mgr. Jiří Hoppe, Ph.D., dr. Łukasz Kamiński, Mgr. Daniel Povolný, Mgr. Vojtěch Ripka, PhDr. Prokop Tomek a Mgr. Kateřina Volná

The following institutions participated in preparations for the exhibition:
Archiv bezpečnostních složek (Praha, Brno), Česká tisková kancelář (Praha), Libri prohibiti (Praha), Společnost Memorial (Moskva), Open Society Archives (Budapešť), Ośrodek KARTA (Varšava), Robert Havemann Gesellschaft (Berlín) a Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, v.v.i. (Praha)

The invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968 represented the largest military maneuvres in Europe since World War II. The decision of the Soviet leadership and its four satellites to suppress the Prague Spring movement violently met with virtually unanimous protests and resistance of the domestic public who came out in support of the arrested Czechoslovak leaders. On August 23, 1968, Władysław Gomułka, the First Secretary of the Polish Socialist Workers Party, described the situation in the occupied country quite cogently: “We have won militarily, but politically we have been totally defeated.“

The Soviet-led military intervention in August 1968 caused an uproar throughout the world. In actual fact, it resulted in a split in the communist movement and principally discredited the ideas of communism. Public rallies in support of the Prague Spring prodemocracy movement were held in many big cities in the world, and the invasion of Czechoslovakia was discussed by the UN Security Council. Helped by the old-new leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, the Kremlin eventually succeeded in pacifying the opposition of most Czechoslovak citizens only in the early 1970s. The Soviet occupation troops stayed on in the country for 22 years, leaving for good in June 1991.

The Prague Spring and its violent suppression also had a great impact on the countries whose troops were directly involved in the invasion. Archive documents and recollections of eyewitnesses illustrate many different forms of active resistance. These were strongest in the German Democratic Republic and Poland, where hundreds of protest rallies, distribution of leaflets or writing of slogans in public spaces were recorded. There were individuals in all the member countries of the “Warsaw Five“ who openly showed their flat refusal of the invasion. Many of them did not hesitate to sacrifice their own freedom and risk imprisonment, forced “treatment“ in psychiatric clinics, banishment or exile. Ryszard Siwiec and Sándor Bauer – just like Czech student Jan Palach – made the ultimate sacrifice - laid down their own lives. Opposition to the August 1968 occupation brought many people into the ranks of dissent and resistance to their communist regimes, and set them on the road of co-operation among dissident groups in the Eastern bloc.

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