Events around country to recall crushing of hope of Prague Spring

'Soviet Invasion – August 1968' at Prague’s Old Town Hall, photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

Dozens of events are planned for Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic in connection with Tuesday’s 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Exhibitions, talks, concerts and more will recall the violent suppression of the Prague Spring reform movement.

'Soviet Invasion – August 1968' at Prague’s Old Town Hall, photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek
Czechoslovak Radio saw the worst of the violence when troops from the USSR and other Warsaw Pact states invaded the country on the night of August 20 to August 21, 1968.

Today’s Czech Radio will recall those events with a special 13-hour broadcast, running from 9 p.m. on Monday until 10 a.m. the next day.

Journalists will report from dozens of spots connected with the invasion, archive materials will be aired and the station has recorded numerous new interviews with eye-witnesses to August 1968.

An hour after that broadcast comes to an end Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and the speakers of both chambers of Parliament will speak at a memorial ceremony at the entrance to the main Czech Radio building on Vinohradská St. A new plaque will be unveiled to previously unknown victims of the invasion.

As part of its Project 68, Czech Radio has also organised a concert on the nearby Wenceslas Square on Tuesday evening, starting at 8 p.m. Among the long list of artists taking part will be singer Marta Kubišová, whose ballad A Prayer for Marta became a symbol of the crushing of the Prague Spring.

Around the same time that show is happening there will be a special video-mapping projection on the National Museum building.

Also on Tuesday evening, the National Gallery in Prague is holding a free event entitled Opening ’68 at its Trade Fair Palace location.

Visitors can enjoy an exhibition of Josef Koudelka’s now iconic photographs of the invasion, as well as a screening of footage from those days shot by Czech New Wave director Jan Němec.

An exhibition at Prague's Skautský institut highlights the brave individuals who protested the invasion elsewhere in the Soviet Bloc, at high personal cost. Some of them have come to the city and will be speaking at the Václav Havel Library on Tuesday evening.

Other noteworthy exhibitions include Soviet Invasion – August 1968, which is already running at the Old Town Hall.

August 68 in Prague, photo: archive of Czech Radio
People can also take in a number of outdoor photography shows, including in front of the City of Prague Museum at Florenc, at the Vítkov National Monument, on Vítězné náměstí and, from next Wednesday, on Jungmannovo náměstí.

The capital is of course not the only place where events are taking place.

The town hall in Plzeň is hosting an exhibition recalling the occupation, while similar events can be enjoyed in Brno, Ostrava, Pardubice and a number of other cities and towns.

In Liberec – one of the worst affected cities in 1968 – there will be a concert of songs by protest singer Karel Kryl.