1969: when the Prague Spring myth was shattered

The Czech Republic this week commemorates the crushing of the Prague Spring by Warsaw Pact troops on 21 August 1968. At the same time it remembers the events of 21 August 1969, when demonstrations marking the first anniversary of the suppression were also quashed, this time by Czechoslovakian police and militias. Czech media take the view that these events still haven't been properly processed by the people.

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Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Gunshots in answer to cries for help

Lidové noviny explains why memories of the events in 1969 are so painful:

“Although the resistance to the foreign powers that had taken place a year earlier wasn't successful, at least it took place. When the demonstrations in 1969 started the people hoped that the political leadership would stand by them. But instead it took sides against them. The tanks of the occupiers didn't even have to leave their barracks. The people called out to Dubček and President Svoboda - and were answered by water cannons and murderous gunfire from militia men. Rather than being 'with the people', their leaders were against them. We don't like to talk about such things. Nevertheless this was the first demythologisation of the year 1968.”

Aktuálně.cz (CZ) /

Traitors among us once more

There are lessons to be learned from the summer fifty years ago, according to Aktuálně.cz:

“On 21 August 1969, the day Czechs shot at Czechs, the country was on the brink of a civil war. One cannot imagine the dreadful feeling of powerlessness unless you have experienced it first hand. ... August 21 is perhaps the right day to reflect on betrayal and traitors. And on whether there isn't a suspiciously high number of them in our past. Moreover, certain politicians are more focussed on Moscow's interests than on ours. Is the man in Prague Castle [President Miloš Zeman] perhaps one of them? Let us pause for a moment and think about it.”