Kamila Moučková, TV presenter who broke the news about the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia dies at 92

Kamila Moučková, photo: Martina Schneibergová

Kamila Moučková, the television presenter who informed the nation that Warsaw Pact troops had entered the country in August 1968 has died at the age of 92. Mrs Moučková, who was subsequently active in anti-invasion broadcasting and was also a Charter 77 signatory, became one of the symbols of the nation’s resistance to the Soviet occupation.

When Soviet-led Warsaw pact troops invaded the country in the early hours of August 21st, 1968, Kamila Moučková went on national television to tell the nation that Czechoslovakia was occupied. During the first hours of the Soviet occupation she reported on events from the studio with soldiers behind her back, up until the transmitters were turned off.

Kamila Moučková,  photo: archive of Post Bellum

This is how she remembered the events for the Memory of the Nations project:

“It wasn’t a regular news service. It was a service for the citizens, about what was going on, where there was shooting going on, and where transporters and tanks were seen.

“My predominant feeling at the time was that I was shaking with anger. Of course, we were all afraid and we feared what would happen, because of the political situation. But no one dreamed that they would dare to cross the borders.”

Mrs Moučková also described the moment when she realised there were soldiers in the studio:

August 1968,  photo: archive of National Museum in Prague,  CC BY-NC 4.0)

“I was so immersed in presenting that I don’t even remember when and how exactly it happened. But my cameraman, Jirka Průcha, moved the camera and I saw two Soviet soldiers standing right behind me, aiming their machine guns at my back. I wasn’t even afraid. But it wasn’t a question of courage, I was just really angry.”

Kamila Moučková was born in April 1928 in Jihlava. Her parents were politically active in the Communist Party and she was initially raised by her mother’s parents.

In the 1940s she briefly studied acting at the Prague Conservatory and for a while worked in theatres in Teplice and Jihlava. After giving birth to her third child, in the mid-1950s, she began collaborating with the newly-established Czechoslovak Television and throughout the 1960s, she became a well-known public figure.

Václav Havel,  Kamila Moučková,  photo: archive of Post Bellum

Following the announcement about the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia on television, she also took part in the illegal broadcasting from Prague’s Tesla factory.

In 1969 she supported student protests related to the self-immolation of Jan Palach and in spring of the same year she was fired from Czechoslovak Television and expelled from the Communist Party.

Up until 1989 she worked as a cook, a cleaning lady and a factory worker, and was constantly questioned by the communist secret police until the Velvet Revolution, when she was able to return to her previous occupation.

She served in various positions in Czech Television and Radio Free Europe. She also took part in hundreds of discussions and received many honours including the Arnošt Lustig Prize for showing courage, perseverance and humanity throughout her life.