Vaclav Zabransky - Protests and the radio in 1968

Tanks burning outside the Czechoslovak Radio building, August 1968

It was August 21st 1968, the world was turning upside-down in Czechoslovakia. The reform movement, which became known as the Prague Spring, was brutally crushed by the Soviet Union and her Warsaw Pact allies. In the days that followed the streets of every major city in the country, especially Prague and Bratislava, filled with people protesting the aggression, pleading with their occupiers to turn around and go home. Vaclav Zabransky left Czechoslovakia not long after the invasion, he now is a successful business man living in the United States. Here he recalls those events and where he was during those trying days.

"In '68 we just happened to have foreign visitors from Denmark and we were traveling with them all over the country on the 21st, when the invasion took place, we encountered the Russian troops actually in Northern Bohemia but then in the afternoon we decided to travel to Prague, which was against the advice to everybody, including the media and so on and the free Czech underground radio which was operating and we did make to Prague that day. In the evening we did come to the streets so I was here August 21st 1968 in front of the Prague radio, and if I recall there were one or two Russian tanks were burning here because some people were throwing motile cocktail's and so they were kind of disabled. A lot of people, a lot of young people here all over the streets. The next day, I think it was Thursday, we left the country Monday afternoon so I was here in Prague for three days during the invasion. You know I, as all my country men, or most of them participated in the protest. The initial first few days, right after the invasion, was basically a debate with the Russian soldiers trying to convince them that they have no place in the country, that was also encouraged by the media. That basically didn't work after three days so people were instructed to ignore them."