Civil Rights Movement - Prague Spring

Main article: Prague Spring

Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar, Russian: пражская весна) was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia starting on January 5, 1968, and running until August 20 of that year, when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies (except for Romania) invaded the country.

During World War II, Czechoslovakia fell into the Soviet sphere of influence, the Eastern Bloc. Since 1948 there were no parties other than the Communist Party in the country and it was indirectly managed by the Soviet Union. Unlike other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the communist take-over in Czechoslovakia in 1948 was, although as brutal as elsewhere, a genuine popular movement. Reform in the country did not lead to the convulsions seen in Hungary.

Towards the end of World War II Joseph Stalin wanted Czechoslovakia, and signed an agreement with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt that Prague would be liberated by the Red Army, despite the fact that the United States Army under General George S. Patton could have liberated the city earlier. This was important for the spread of pro-Russian (and pro-communist) propaganda that came right after the war. People still remembered what they felt as Czechoslovakia's betrayal by the West at the Munich Agreement. For these reasons, the people voted for communists in the 1948 elections, the last democratic poll to take place there for a long time.

From the middle of the 1960s, Czechs and Slovaks showed increasing signs of rejection of the existing regime. This change was reflected by reformist elements within the communist party by installing Alexander Dubček as party leader. Dubček's reforms of the political process inside Czechoslovakia, which he referred to as Socialism with a human face, did not represent a complete overthrow of the old regime, as was the case in Hungary in 1956. Dubček's changes had broad support from the society, including the working class, but was seen by the Soviet leadership as a threat to their hegemony over other states of the Eastern Bloc and to the very safety of the Soviet Union. Czechoslovakia was in the middle of the defensive line of the Warsaw Pact and its possible defection to the enemy was unacceptable during the Cold War.

However, a sizeable minority in the ruling party, especially at higher leadership levels, was opposed to any lessening of the party's grip on society and actively plotted with the leadership of the Soviet Union to overthrow the reformers. This group watched in horror as calls for multi-party elections and other reforms began echoing throughout the country.

Between the nights of August 20 and August 21, 1968, Eastern Bloc armies from five Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia. During the invasion, Soviet tanks ranging in numbers from 5,000 to 7,000 occupied the streets. They were followed by a large number of Warsaw Pact troops ranging from 200,000 to 600,000.

The Soviets insisted that they had been invited to invade the country, stating that loyal Czechoslovak Communists had told them that they were in need of "fraternal assistance against the counter-revolution". A letter which was found in 1989 proved an invitation to invade did indeed exist. During the attack of the Warsaw Pact armies, 72 Czechs and Slovaks were killed (19 of those in Slovakia) and hundreds were wounded (up to September 3, 1968). Alexander Dubček called upon his people not to resist. He was arrested and taken to Moscow, along with several of his colleagues.

Read more about this topic:  Civil Rights Movement

Other articles related to "prague spring, spring, prague":

Prague Spring - Aftermath - Cultural Impact
... The Prague Spring deepened the disillusionment of many Western leftists with Marxist-Leninist views ... of Chinese political liberalization became known as the Beijing Spring ... It also partly influenced the Croatian Spring in Yugoslavia ...
Soviet Occupation - Cold War - Czechoslovakia (1968- 1991)
... Main articles Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia In 1948, the Czech Communist Party won a large portion of the vote in Czechoslovak politics ... invaded and overtaken however, the invasion's primary attention focused on Prague, particularly the state organs, Czech television and radio ... occupation, which had put an end to any hope that Prague Spring had created, about 100,000 people fled Czechoslovakia ...
Sylvie Bodorová - Biography
... and Performing Arts in Brno and as a post-graduate later on at the Music Academy in Prague ... She has received several competition prizes (Mannheim, Czech Radio Prague) and many prestigious commissions from the Warwick Festival in the 90th Megiddo - Piano Trio - 2001, for the same festival -Terezin ... After the great success of Terezín Ghetto Requiem the Prague Spring International Music Festival commissioned oratorio Juda Maccabeus for the performance in St ...
Revoluční Odborové Hnutí - Prague Spring
... During the Prague Spring of 1968, ROH became somewhat more independent ... However, developments in the trade union field were somewhat slower than in other organizations ...

Famous quotes containing the word spring:

    The spring is here, young and beautiful as ever, and absolutely shocking in its display of reckless maternity; but the Judas tree will bloom for you on the Bosphorus if you get there in time. No one ever loved the dog-wood and Judas tree as I have done, and it is my one crown of life to be sure that I am going to take them with me to heaven to enjoy real happiness with the Virgin and them.
    Henry Brooks Adams (1838–1918)