Prague spring

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Residents of Prague with a Czechoslovak flag in front of a burning Soviet tank

The Prague Spring ( Pražské jaro in Czech , Pražská jar in Slovak ) is the name given to the efforts of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSČ) under Alexander Dubček in the spring of 1968 to implement a liberalization and democratization program and, above all, to influence and strengthen these reform efforts rapidly developing critical public.

The term “Prague Spring” combines two opposing processes: on the one hand, the attempt to create a 'socialism with a human face' (Czech: socialismus s lidskou tváří ), but on the other hand, the violent suppression of this attempt by the invaders on August 21, 1968 Warsaw Pact troops .

The term "Prague Spring" comes from Western media and is a continuation of the term thaw period , which in turn goes back to the title of the novel Thaw by Ilja Ehrenburg . In Prague itself, “Prague Spring” also means the Prague Spring music festival, which has been held regularly since 1946 .


From the beginning of the 1960s, the ČSSR found itself in a profound economic and social crisis: The bureaucratic, centralized planning system had led to a dramatic stagnation of the economy - also in comparison to the other Comecon countries  ; the Communist Party was dominated by a leadership influenced by Stalinism . For example, it did not allow the political show trials (see e.g. Milada Horáková , Slánský trial ) in the Gottwald era of the late 1940s and early 1950s to be dealt with.

Economic reform debates

With the height of the economic crisis in 1963, voices of reform within and outside the party finally grew louder. Under the leadership of the Central Committee member and head of the economic institute at the Prague Academy of Sciences Ota Šik , a technocratic opposition was formed demanding fundamental economic reforms. In Šik's view, the planned economy should be abandoned in favor of a “ socialist market economy ” - with the companies being freed from state management and the reduction of bureaucracy. Among other things, Šik proposed the approval of autonomous trade unions and privately run small businesses, joint ventures with Western companies, the introduction of workers' self-management and the end of state control of price formation.

Ota Šik - who did not see himself as a revolutionary, but as a reformer in view of the precarious situation of the Czechoslovak economy - did not go so far as to question the collectivization of agriculture and national ownership of the means of production.

Slovak national policy

In 1960 Czechoslovakia adopted the socialist constitution. In this new constitution, the competences of the Slovak national organs were significantly reduced, and the powers of the Slovak National Council were transferred to the ministries in Prague. In the period that followed, Slovakia experienced a major surge in modernization through integration into communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, but paid for it with the lack of political participation. Decisions of the Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) had to be approved in Prague before being passed. Since 1963, Alexander Dubček has held the post of First Secretary of the KSS. He campaigned for the rehabilitation of the Slovak communists convicted in the 1950s and created a liberal climate in Slovakia (more liberal than in Prague), which was mainly used by Slovak journalists and writers.

In the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Dubček was in opposition to Antonín Novotný , First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPČ and President of the ČSSR. Dubček, among other things, no longer wanted these two offices to be combined in one person and also called for the powers of the Slovak organs to be increased. Novotný called Dubček a Slovak nationalist and planned his deposition. The Novotny-Dubček conflict reached its climax in December 1967. But Novotny "lost": on January 5, 1968, he made his position as the party's first secretary available.

The Slovak national movement was a crucial factor in the beginning of the Prague Spring.

Critical public

For the critical intelligentsia, in a “climate of unwillingly tolerated liberalization and relatively ineffective reprisals by political institutions”, the opportunities for public expression of opinion, which a broad section of the population were following more and more attentively, expanded. By the end of 1967, the critical public grew more and more and became increasingly radical in its criticism.

An early sign of these changes was the "rehabilitation" of the long ostracized Franz Kafka , whose literary validity was put up for debate at an international writers' conference at Liblice Castle on May 27 and 28, 1963. This conference, known as the Kafka Conference , was a political discussion in the field of literary studies, the subject of the debate being essentially the central Marxist concept of alienation . The Czechoslovakian delegates with the Austrian Ernst Fischer represented against the opinion of the participants from the GDR in particular, who saw Kafka as a victim of a personality cult and believed that the alienation of the worker from his work in socialism postulated by Karl Marx could no longer exist the view that this could very well be the case and that things should be seen as they were.

The discussion of the Kafka conference was taken up and continued by the literary newspaper Literární noviny . In the period that followed, this magazine was a main stage in the dispute between ideologues and idealists. For a country like Czechoslovakia, the magazine achieved a circulation of 140,000 copies. She increasingly had to deal with the sanctions of the Central Committee of the KPČ. The editor-in-chief was changed, but his successor could do little. At a congress of the Writers' Union in June 1967, the delegates sent by Literární noviny (three editors of the magazine Ivan Klíma , Antonín Jaroslav Liehm and Ludvík Vaculík ) for the first time directly criticized the party leadership.

State and party leader Antonín Novotný responded with a public statement that the Congress was part of a foreign-led campaign against the upcoming celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution . The KPČ ordered the editorial staff of the magazine to be reorganized and forbade a number of congress participants, including Pavel Kohout and Václav Havel , to stand for election in the Writers' Union. The above three editors were expelled from the party, other participants - such as Kohout - received warnings. The magazine was subordinated to the Minister of Culture Karel Hoffmann and immediately lost its function as a dissident organ. However, all of this was seen as a sign that Novotný was struggling to assert itself on the spot as it had once been. Instead, the sanctions led to widespread protest from journalists, artists and writers. A “legally unregulated but disciplined press anarchy” began to develop. In March 1968, censorship was finally abolished.

Change in leadership at KPČ

On October 31, 1967, students protested the conditions in their dormitories. State and party leader Antonín Novotný had the protests broken up by force, which, however, earned him massive criticism in the Central Committee. The Soviet Union, to which Novotný then turned, gave him to understand that he could not count on help from Moscow, but that he should deal with his problems himself. At the beginning of 1968 the longstanding tensions between the left dogmatic and the reformist wing of the KPČ erupted. At the so-called January meeting of the Central Committee of the CPČ on January 4, 1968, Novotný was replaced as First Secretary of the CPČ by the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Slovakia Alexander Dubček and only retained the position of President of the Republic, which was of little political importance for a period of time.

Alexander Dubček (September 1968)

The change in leadership - after a few weeks of uncertainty about the new direction - marked the beginning of the reform course of the Czechoslovak ruling party, which, in connection with the pressure of the public who had become critical, led to the phenomenon “Prague Spring”. Dubček initially tried to slow down the reformers' zeal a little so as not to attract the suspicion of the other Eastern Bloc countries. They were already beginning to criticize Czechoslovakia's course. Ota Šik therefore did not become a member of the party presidium, as requested, and he was also not appointed to head the economic committee. Rather, Dubček initially aimed at a reform of the federal constitution, which should give the Slovaks more self-government rights.

The KSČ's program of action, presented on April 5, 1968, served as the programmatic basis for the reforms, which aimed in particular at economic reforms, freedom of expression and information, a coming to terms with the Stalinist past and a general realignment of the role of the Communist Party in society. However, not least because of the abolition of censorship, this partisan reform course had already been anticipated in many respects in the public discussion about the restructuring of society. The main points of the action program were also taken over by the government declaration of the first government of Oldřich Černík , which replaced the government of Jozef Lenárt on April 8, 1968 .

The goals of the “Prague Spring” and the KPČ's program of action

The mood in the population was predominantly marked by “approval of socialism, but only to a reformed, democratic one”, not by the demand for the “abolition of socialism”. In a survey in July 1968, 89% of the Czechoslovak population spoke out in favor of maintaining socialism. In the same poll, only 7% of the population expressed dissatisfaction with the Dubček government, which propagated “socialism with a human face” in its program. The basic aim was to think of a new socialism, "without self-appointed leaders [...], without gray workplaces and without callous bureaucracy". In return, the “human value should be above all values” and the system should be adapted to the circumstances of the ČSSR instead of blindly copying from Moscow. The KPČ always kept the leading role , especially when external pressure began to grow.

In the area of ​​political structure, a liberalization of all areas of life was planned, including the development of the CPČ itself. Centralism was to be dismantled, concentrations of power, especially around individuals, were to be prevented, intra-party democracy and a return to a parliamentary model with bourgeois parties should be built up.

Pluralism and freedom of expression should be expanded in the legal system and applied in practice. The rehabilitation of the victims of the trials of the “fifties”, which is often called for, is related to this.

The leading architect of the economic reforms was Ota Šik , who had designed a model of a “humane economic democracy”. According to this, the central planning of the economy should be reduced to a minimum, while the focus should be on competing companies that are - at least formally - owned by their workers. This was intended to drive the scientific and technical revolution forward. In the companies themselves, there was a strong endeavor to establish structures in which employees and external interest groups, such as representatives of the region, have decision-making power and work closely together.

The implementation of these reform plans would have been tantamount to turning to an economic system like that of Yugoslavia or one that is even more oriented towards market mechanisms. After the fall of the Wall, Ota Šik stated in an interview that he never actually had a reform of socialism in mind, but rather its abolition.

The freedom of press, science, information and travel were important steps on the way to the desired cultural pluralism. This cultural pluralism particularly affected the different nationalities within the ČSSR. The minorities should be granted cultural self-determination and development, and Slovakia should be granted equal rights under constitutional law in the form of a federalization of the ČSSR. The main focus here was also on the Slovak half of the ČSSR.

In terms of foreign policy, the top priority was security in Europe. The solution to the problem of the two opposing German states was of essential importance here, as was the good relations between the ČSSR and all of Europe. The reformers pretended that the ČSSR would continue to orientate itself clearly on the Warsaw Pact states, only the relations within the alliance should move away from the Soviet supremacy towards an equal partnership. At the same time, the ideas of the “Prague Spring” should be carried on to other countries in the East and West. However, it is unclear whether concessions were made to the socialist camp for tactical reasons in order to forestall an intervention by Moscow.

These goals were recorded in the KPČ's program of action of April 5, 1968, which was decided at the plenary session of the Central Committee from March 29 to April 5. However, the goals mentioned could only provide a rough direction, as they only marked the direction of an ongoing process that was to be further developed through constant discussion across society and only to become concrete through political measures.

Public emancipation

In February 1968 Dubček had lifted press censorship. As a result, a “true information explosion” took place in the country's media. Accordingly, the action program was not very enthusiastic in public, but rather taken for granted, the opinion leadership had meanwhile changed from the party to the people.

The manifesto of the 2000 words of the writer Ludvík Vaculík from June 1968, as well as the associations K 231 or KAN , which were formed in the spring, were testimony to this emancipation of the public .

The Star reported in its issue no. 36 of 8 September 1968 on the activities of the "Send Battalion 701" Psychological Warfare of the Armed Forces , which during the Prague Spring with secret channels such as "Radio Free Czechoslovakia", "Radio Free North Bohemia" and "Radio Number seven “broadcast on the frequencies of switched off ČSSR stations. Among other things, false reports were passed on, for example that Dubček was murdered or that a children's hospital in Prague had been shot down. The Stern later denied this report, but allegations of treason were brought against the magazine on the basis of the article.

Soviet Union reaction

The Soviet Union , which had initially approved the change of power from Novotný to Dubček, but then quickly took an extremely skeptical position on developments in Czechoslovakia, evaluated the “Manifesto of 2,000 Words” as a platform for counter-revolution . In this it was encouraged by the Deputy Prime Minister Gustáv Husák , who spoke of an “atmosphere of terror”.

Antonín Novotný (he had been forced to resign as party leader on January 5, 1968, and as president on March 22, and was expelled from the Central Committee of the Communist Party in June ) reported the Communist Party on two visits to the Soviet government Dubček is about to give up the CP's monopoly on power.

As early as March 21, 1968, there were government representatives of the ČSSR in Grillenburg Castle near Dresden with those of the Soviet Union , Bulgaria , Hungary , Poland and the GDR  - the states later referred to as the "Warsaw Five", which ultimately also carried out the intervention, although the GDR did not marched in directly - met to talk about the situation in Czechoslovakia. Further meetings of the “Warsaw Five” on the topic took place, this time without Czechoslovak participation, in May and June. At the same time, the Soviet pressure on the Prague government to curb the reforms significantly. Military intervention was soon one of the threats with which the Warsaw Pact put pressure on its reform-minded member.

A few days after bilateral talks between the Czechoslovak and Soviet governments, the last official meeting between Czechoslovakia and the “Warsaw Five” took place on August 3rd in Bratislava . The final communiqué adopted in Bratislava was seen in the Czechoslovakia as a sign of relaxation, as the various parties were to be granted national sovereignty on their way to socialism. Indeed, after the meeting, the ongoing Soviet preparations for the invasion of Czechoslovakia were intensified.

New research shows that Leonid Brezhnev (contrary to popular belief) tried to prevent military intervention and believed to the last that a political solution was possible. Misjudging the actual situation in Czechoslovakia, he is said to have pleaded with his friend Dubček on the phone to do what was necessary to restore the supremacy of the CPČ. In contrast, the heads of state and party leaders of the GDR and Bulgaria, Walter Ulbricht and Todor Schiwkow , as well as representatives of the military such as Marshal Grechko resolutely demanded the immediate military suppression of the reform movement. This knowledge, gained from an analysis of the internal discussions of the Soviet party leadership, no longer makes the later statements of the Soviet leadership that they were ready to negotiate up to the last moment appear credible.

In addition, the Stalinist Czechoslovak opposition used the meeting in Bratislava to send Leonid Brezhnev the so-called letter of invitation , in which they asked for an intervention to prevent a counter-revolution in the ČSSR.

Warsaw letter to the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia

The Warsaw letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (ČSSR) of July 15, 1968 is also understood as the Brezhnev Doctrine and was issued 37 days before troops marched into Czechoslovakia. From the content:

“It was and is not our intention to interfere in matters that are strictly internal to your party and your state. It was and is not our intention to violate the principles of respect for independence and equality in relations between the communist parties and the socialist countries ... "

“We cannot, however, agree that hostile forces are pushing your country off the path of socialism and threatening the separation of Czechoslovakia from the socialist community. These are no longer just your business. These are the common affairs of all communist and workers' parties and of all states united by alliance, cooperation and friendship. These are the common affairs of our states, which were united in the Warsaw Treaty in order to guarantee their independence, peace and security in Europe, in order to erect an insurmountable barrier against the imperialist forces of aggression and revenge. "

Invasion of Warsaw Pact troops

Soviet tanks in the Old Town Square in Prague

On the night of August 21, 1968, around half a million soldiers from the Soviet Union , Poland , Hungary and Bulgaria marched into Czechoslovakia and occupied all strategically important positions in the country within a few hours. It was the largest military operation in Europe since 1945. SR Romania demonstratively did not participate in the invasion. Nicolae Ceaușescu sharply condemned the invasion at a rally on August 21, 1968 in Bucharest , stating: “The idea of ​​military intervention in the affairs of a socialist brother state cannot be justified by anything, and no reason can be approved that includes this idea seems acceptable for only a moment. ”The SVR Albania , at the time still a formally official member of the military alliance, took the invasion, in which it also did not take part, on the occasion of 5 September 1968 at a meeting of the Party of Labor of Albania to withdraw to explain from the contractual alliance.

98 Czechs and Slovaks and around 50 soldiers from the invasion troops died during the invasion.

The GDR National People's Army did not take part in the occupation; although two NVA divisions were ready on the border with the ČSSR . About 30 soldiers from an NVA news unit stayed in the command staff of the invasion troops at the Milovice military training area during the military action .

The KPČ decided not to offer any military resistance. The NATO kept quiet to the Soviet Union a pretext for intervention to be delivered

The President of Czechoslovakia, Ludvík Svoboda , called on the Czechs and Slovaks in a radio address to keep calm. Dubček and other high-ranking officials were arrested and taken to Moscow. There they were put under pressure and gradually disempowered in favor of Gustáv Husák, who was loyal to the line. In Czechoslovakia the actual plan of the Soviet Union to present a new government did not work due to the non-violent, closed protest of the population of the occupied country. The assertion that the KPČ had requested the invasion was denied by the Czechoslovak side: For the actual "conspirators" the climate of opinion in Czechoslovakia was too unfavorable to be able to announce an open palace revolution . During the turmoil of the first days of the occupation, the Communist Party even managed to convene an extraordinary congress of the National Assembly, at which the invasion was expressly condemned and the Dubček government was confirmed in office.

Statement by the Soviet news agency TASS

On August 21, 1968, the Soviet news agency TASS issued an official declaration on the invasion of troops into Czechoslovakia: “TASS is authorized to declare that personalities of the party and the state of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic are committed to the Soviet Union and the other allied states with the Please have applied for urgent assistance, including assistance from armed forces, to the brotherly Czechoslovakian people. This appeal was triggered because the socialist state order set out in the constitution was endangered by counterrevolutionary forces who have entered into a conspiracy with external forces hostile to socialism. ... The further escalation of the situation in Czechoslovakia affects the vital interests of the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, the interests of the security of the states of the socialist community. The threat to the socialist order in Czechoslovakia is also a threat to the foundations of European peace. "

Non-participation of the GDR

Propaganda photo of the ADN from September 5, 1968. The Deputy Minister for National Defense of the GDR Siegfried Weiß visits units and troops of the NVA "which took part in the joint actions of the brother armies to protect the socialist achievements in the CSSR"

Already in May 1968 the combat readiness of the border troops of the GDR had been increased. The 7th Panzer Division and the 11th Motorized Rifle Division of the National People's Army of the GDR (NVA) were under the Soviet High Command from July 29, 1968. On the morning of August 21st, civil border traffic into the ČSSR was stopped. Some places near the border were isolated and were only allowed to be entered by residents. The propaganda broadcaster Radio Vltava also started operating on that day . It was operated by the GDR and broadcast on medium wave by the Wilsdruff station near Dresden in the direction of Czechoslovakia. The aim was to influence the population in the interests of the Warsaw Pact states. The station ceased operations in the spring of 1969 after massive protests from Czechoslovakia.

No NVA troops took part in the invasion itself. The decision about this was made only a few hours before the start of the invasion and was communicated to the NVA leadership by the commander-in-chief of the Warsaw treaty organization Marshal Jakubowski . Presumably, in the 30th year after the Munich Agreement , the citizens of the CSSR should not be further embittered by the sight of invaders in German uniform. In the mass media of the Pact states, official statements were distributed in which the participation of the NVA was claimed.

The GDR leadership evaluated the reduction of the role of the NVA to merely supporting measures as a setback. The GDR leadership deliberately deceived the GDR population by having reports spread about the deployment of NVA troops in Czechoslovakia. Some western journalists fell for it and spread it too.

On August 23, the 11th motorized rifle division was moved closer to the Czechoslovak border in the Adorf - Auerbach - Oelsnitz area. On October 16, 1968, the troops were again placed under the command of the GDR and relocated to their barracks a day later.

Civil resistance

According to the decision of the KPČ, Dubček called on people to forego military resistance, as this was hopeless from the outset. However, there were isolated clashes between the civilian population and the invaders. On the first day of the invasion, 23 people died. By September 1, the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops cost 71 Czechoslovaks their lives. The historian Oldřich Tůma said of non-violence: "The one or two cases in which weapons were actually found before August 21, 1968, is again known to have been a provocation of the Soviet secret service."

The Czech and Slovak people tried to slow down the occupation through civil disobedience and various actions. It was by no means a “ passive resistance ”, but a highly active one: place-name signs and street signs were twisted, painted over, smashed or dismantled, so that occupiers who were unfamiliar with the location were sent in the wrong directions. Czechoslovak railway workers directed supply trains for the Red Army on sidings. Thousands of mostly self-drawn or self-printed posters that mocked the occupiers and called for passive resistance were distributed mainly in Prague and Bratislava, but also in other cities, and stuck on the walls of houses and shop windows. The then Czechoslovak Radio also played a major role. For example, under the then head Zdeněk Hejzlar, a mobile transmitter station was used to inform the population. The ORF also played a major role in this by informing the Czechoslovaks via shortwave transmission systems in Austria. In their own country they were not informed about the events at all or in some cases incorrectly. In addition, pirate stations also played an important role, which the Soviet occupation forces could not completely switch off either.

Banner of a demonstration in Moscow in Russian: "For your and our freedom"

Solidarity rallies in several cities in the Soviet Union were hushed up and the demonstrators disappeared into prisons.

As part of protests in the GDR, according to the Ministry of the Interior , 468 demonstrators were arrested from August 21 to September 4, 1968 and the personal details of 1,075 people were determined.

The end of the Prague Spring

Demonstration in Helsinki

On August 23, two days after the intervention began, President Ludvík Svoboda was officially called to Moscow for negotiations, in which, at his request - initially only unofficially - the imprisoned members of the government around Dubček also took part.

The Moscow Protocol , adopted three days later, contained the repeal of almost all reform projects. With this result of a de facto surrender in his luggage, Dubček, who was initially left in his office, returned to Prague, where he was received once again with enthusiasm. Soon afterwards, the people of the Czechoslovakia realized that the “Prague Spring” was over.

As a result of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the troops of the Warsaw Pact states, tens of thousands of people, mostly skilled workers and intellectuals, left the country. Around 96,000 people fled to Austria alone , and another 66,000 vacationers did not return to Czechoslovakia from Austria. Others fled across the border to Bavaria.

As part of the initiated by Husak purges within the Communist Party nearly 500,000 members were from the KSČ excluded .
On January 16, 1969 , the student Jan Palach burned himself to death on Wenceslas Square in protest against the crackdown on the Prague Spring . On February 25, 1969, the student Jan Zajíc also burned himself there .

Reception abroad

Italy and France

In Italy and France, the Soviet invasion was publicly condemned not only by a liberal public, but also by the respective communist parties. This was seen as a symptom of an increasing detachment from Moscow, which became one of the founding moments of Eurocommunism . The SED did not approve of the criticism, but the party continued to seek close relations for foreign policy reasons, for example with the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

Federal Republic of Germany

Wall newspaper of the CDU for the Prague Spring

The Prague Spring and its suppression were observed and commented on in the Federal Republic of Germany like hardly any other foreign policy event. The interest in actually all parts of the public was similar: Both the large conservative newspapers and the small left-opposition papers put the events on their front pages. On the one hand, the bourgeois press observed the Czechoslovakian attempt to create “socialism with a human face” with great sympathy and almost entirely positive comments, but interpreted the reforms as an attempt to catch up with the western standards of freedom and democracy.

In contrast, the extra-parliamentary opposition in the Federal Republic suddenly discovered a “third way” in the Prague Spring , a “hitherto undiscovered socialist democracy ”.


In contrast to other western countries, Austria was forced to behave neutrally because of the Neutrality Act and the State Treaty.

As the protests against the ORF coverage showed, this was a difficult task. Nevertheless, the Austrian radio, under the direction of Gerd Bacher , managed to function as an information hub for the whole world and to continuously offer the latest news.

Although no armed intervention was assumed in Austria, meetings between the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense took place on July 23 about the possibility of interventions and measures to protect Austria. These measures were given the code name Urgestein , but later did not come into full effect because the armed forces had to take up positions thirty kilometers behind the border.

Because of the maneuvers, Warsaw Pact troops had been on Czechoslovakian territory for weeks, albeit in relatively low strength. These were essentially logistics associations that were supposed to prepare and then coordinate the invasion. The Austrian government was surprised by the occupation, also during the holiday season. As an immediate measure, the Soviet ambassador in Austria was handed protest notes against the numerous reconnaissance flights by Soviet air forces over Austrian territory.

At the same time, the armed forces were alerted under the code name “Marschmusik für Glockenspiel” and more than three brigades were transferred to the Waldviertel to reinforce the garrisons north of the Danube .

In order to have a sufficient number of active soldiers available, the dismissal of the nine-month conscripts was postponed by a deferred presence service for the duration of the "Czech crisis ".

The ORF, which has only been legally independent since 1967, has been well informed since the start of the operations and was able to pass these reports on to other Western media. The Soviet ambassador complained about this and there were confrontations between the federal government and the ORF, which Bruno Kreisky also joined because, in his opinion, the ORF reported in a manner that was contrary to neutrality.

The then Austrian ambassador in Prague and later Federal President Rudolf Kirchschläger , who issued visas for Austria despite instructions from Foreign Minister Kurt Waldheim to the contrary, played a special role for Czechoslovakians who wanted to leave the country and thus enabled numerous people to flee. As a result, around 162,000 refugees came to Austria, but only around 12,000 of them also applied for asylum and stayed in Austria.

Soviet Union

On August 25, eight people protested at the so-called execution site on Red Square in Moscow with a banner "For your and our freedom".

Diplomatic aftermath in the present

At his meeting with Czech President Václav Klaus on March 1, 2006, Russian President Putin admitted moral responsibility for Russia as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, but said: "There is no legal responsibility and there cannot be any".

The Russian ambassador was summoned by the Czech Foreign Ministry when a documentary on Russian state television portrayed the Prague Spring as an attempted coup by an association of “convicted former Nazis, SS people and collaborators” in June 2015. The 1968 claims of alleged NATO interference were also resumed on the program. "Russian television is lying," said President Miloš Zeman , while Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka , the former operations called an "occupation". After talking to the Russian ambassador, who had assured that the documentary had nothing to do with Russian politics, the foreign minister said: "That Russian state television has nothing to do with politics is ridiculous." The former ambassador in Moscow , Petr Kolář , said that the Russian media tried to adapt their programs to President Putin's worldview in advance obedience. Kolář would like to see a broadcast on Czech television: “The people here should know how we are portrayed in Russia. As stupid victims of NATO and fascists who shoot their liberators. ”A petition asked Czech public television to broadcast the documentary. "The film is pure propaganda," said one signer of the petition. According to the program director of Czech TV, the documentary should be shown on the second program around the time of the anniversary of the invasion in August 2015.



  • Renata Schmidtkunz : End of Spring - Prague 1968. AT, ORF, 45 Min., 2008 (content: contemporary witnesses such as the then ORF General Director Gerd Bacher , Hugo Portisch, Helmut Zilk , Barbara Coudenhove-Calergi (AZ Vienna) and two spokesmen of the “Prague Spring”, Pavel Kohout and Jiří Gruša , today President of the International PEN, remember and comment on rare archive recordings. The predictability of the invasion is mentioned repeatedly.)
  • Lutz Pensionner & Frank Otto Sperlich : The Prague Spring and the GDR. DT, MDRFS, 45 min., 2013, first broadcast on August 20, 2013 (Documentation with archive recordings. Content: Young people in the GDR dream of the GDR being infected by the Prague Spring. Among others, Toni Krahl , Florian Havemann , and Friedrich Schorlemmer on the hopes and defeats that they associated with the Prague Spring.)

motion pictures


  • Action program of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In: Volkszeitung, Prague, 16/1968, (April 19, 1968), German.
  • Günter Bischof and others (ed.): Prager Frühling . The international crisis year 1968. Volume 1 (contributions) and volume 2 (documents). Böhlau , Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-412-20231-6 (publications of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on the Consequences of War, Graz – Vienna – Klagenfurt: special volume 9).
  • Heinrich Böll , René Böll (ed.): The tank aimed at Kafka. Heinrich Böll and the Prague Spring. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2018, ISBN 978-3-4620-5155-1 .
  • Stefan Bollinger : Third way between the blocks - Prague Spring 1968. Hope without a chance. Trafo, Berlin 1995. ISBN 3-930412-78-0 .
  • Zdeněk Hejzlar: Reform Communism. On the history of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1976, ISBN 3-434-00317-7 .
  • Birgit Hofmann: The «Prague Spring» and the West. France and the Federal Republic in the international crisis surrounding Czechoslovakia 1968. Wallstein, Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8353-1737-6 .
  • Vladimir Horský: Prague 1968. System change and system defense. (= Studies on Peace Research. Volume 14). Klett, Stuttgart / Kösel, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-466-42114-4 .
  • Vladimir V. Kusin: The Intellectual Origins of the Prague Spring. The Development of Reformist Ideas in Czechoslovakia 1956-1967. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002, ISBN 0-521-52652-3 .
  • Daniel Limberger: Poland and the “Prague Spring” 1968, reactions in society, party and church. Lang, Bern 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-62259-9 , plus dissertation at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau 2011.
  • Francesco Di Palma: Conflict and Normalization. SED and PCI before the challenge of the Prague Spring (1968–1970). In: Work - Movement - History , Volume II / 2017, pp. 128–144.
  • Zdeněk Mlynář : The “Prague Spring”. A scientific symposium. Bund, Cologne 1983, ISBN 3-7663-0808-4
  • Jan Pauer: Prague 1968. The invasion of the Warsaw Pact. Background, planning, implementation. Edition Temmen , Bremen 1995, ISBN 3-86108-314-0 .
  • Lutz Prieß, Václav Kural, Manfred Wilke : The SED and the “Prague Spring” 1968. Academy, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-05-002796-7 .
  • Ota Šik : Prague Spring Awakening. Memories. Busse-Seewald, Herford 1988, ISBN 3-512-00841-0 .
  • Reinhard Veser : The Prague Spring 1968. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, Erfurt 1998, ISBN 3-931426-22-X ; 2nd, revised edition 2008, ISBN 978-3-937967-31-8 .
  • Rüdiger Wenzke : The NVA and the Prague Spring 1968: The role of Ulbricht and the GDR armed forces in the suppression of the Czechoslovak reform movement. (= Research on GDR history. Vol. 5). Ch. Links, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-86153-082-1 .
  • Martin Schulze Wessel : The Prague Spring: Departure into a new world. Reclam, Ditzingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-15-011159-8 .

Web links

Commons : Prague Spring  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Prague Spring  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Eleonora Schneider: Prague Spring. P. 86.
  2. Literární noviny (2) 1952–67, online at: ( Slovník české literatury portal - Lexicon of Czech Literature)
  3. Jan Pauer: The Czechoslovak Reform and Democratization Process in the Light of "Perestroika". In: Tilly Miller (ed.): Prague Spring and Reform Policy Today (= Academy Contributions to Political Education, Vol. 20). Olzog, Munich 1989, pp. 44-57, quoted on p. 50.
  4. Kural, Priess, Wilke (ed.): The SED and the “Prager Frühling” 1968. P. 98.
  5. ^ A b Otfrid Pustejovsky: No lintel in Prague. Munich: DTV, 1968, p. 140.
  6. Peter-Claus Burens: The GDR and the "Prague Spring". Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1981, p. 50.
  7. ^ Pustejovsky: No lintel in Prague. P. 42.
  8. Burens: The GDR and the “Prague Spring”. P. 36.
  9. Burens: The GDR and the “Prague Spring”. P. 37.
  10. Kural, Priess, Wilke (ed.): The SED and the “Prager Frühling” 1968. P. 97.
  11. Burens: The GDR and the “Prague Spring”. P. 44.
  12. ^ Pustejovsky: No lintel in Prague. P. 105.
  13. a b Hájek: Encounters and clashes. P. 172.
  14. ^ Pustejovsky: No lintel in Prague. P. 141.
  15. Burens: The GDR and the “Prague Spring”. P. 48.
  16. ^ Eleonora Schneider: Prague Spring. P. 75.
  17. ^ Karl Heinz Roth : GDR invasion target. Hamburg 1971, p. 178.
  18. Der Spiegel 29/1968 of July 15, 1968: Russians out
  19. Reinhard Spehr in: Grillenburg. State Office for Monument Preservation Saxony, workbook 10, Dresden 2006, p. 78, source 59, ISBN 978-3-937602-85-1 and H. Fischer: 30 years ago: Warsaw Pact in the Tharandt Forest. Sächsische Zeitung, Freital, April 29, 1998.
  20. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, November 9th, 2007: Researcher: GDR pushed for the invasion of the Prague Spring.
  21. ^ Swiss Radio DRS: Echo der Zeit, November 16, 2007: Brezhnev wanted to prevent the 1968 invasion of Prague. ( Memento from January 5, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  23. ^ Norman Davies : Europe - A History. Pimlico, London 1997, p. 1106.
  24. ^ Friedrich Wiener: The armies of the Warsaw Pact states. 6th edition, Vienna 1974, p. 45.
  25. ^ Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania on the way to completing socialist construction. Volume 3, Politischer Verlag, Bucharest 1969, p. 451.
  26. ^ History of the Party of Labor of Albania. Verlag "8 Nëntori", Tirana 1981, p. 113.
  27. ( 7th Panzer Division and 11th Motorized Rifle Division )
  28. a b c Russian documentary about the invasion of 1968 - the myth of "brotherly help". Radio Prague, June 6, 2015
  30. In the service of the party. Handbook of the armed organs of the GDR. Edited by Torsten Diedrich u. a. on behalf of the Military History Research Office , March 1998, p. 488f.
  31. Stefan Wolle (lit.): The dream of the revolt. P. 154.
  32. Stefan Wolle (lit.): The dream of the revolt. P. 153f.
  33. The term is still occasionally used in view of the Prague Spring to express that the resistance was non-violent.
  34. Roland Vogt : Forms of resistance in the CSSR as a response to the intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops of August 21, 1968. In: Social Defense. Vol. 3 (1971), Issue 9/10, pp. 60-70, here p. 67.
  35. Roland Vogt: Forms of resistance in the CSSR as a response to the intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops of August 21, 1968. In: Social Defense. Vol. 3 (1971), Issue 9/10, pp. 60-70, here p. 69.
  36. Roland Vogt: Forms of resistance in the CSSR as a response to the intervention of the Warsaw Pact troops of August 21, 1968. In: Social Defense. Vol. 3 (1971), Issue 9/10, pp. 60-70, here p. 64.
  37. Vladimir Horský: On the internal logic of resistance in the CSSR, August 1968. In: Social defense. Vol. 3 (1971), Issue 9/10, pp. 51-60, here pp. 55-56.
  38. Aren't you ashamed? NZZ, January 27, 2017
  39. Silke Stern, The Czechoslovakian Emigration. Austria as a country of first reception and asylum . In: Stefan Karner (ed.), Prager Frühling the international crisis year 1968 . (Publications of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on the Consequences of War, special volume 1, Graz / Vienna / Klagenfurt 2008) 1025-1042, p. 1041. For the number of refugees see also Magdalena Klaus (2013): “Asyl –Transit - Integration. Crises on the Iron Curtain in 1956 and 1968. " pp. 14–39 (with over 100 documents)
  40. Prague Spring and the Occupation of Czechoslovakia
  41. Francesco Di Palma: Conflict and Normalization. SED and PCI before the challenge of the Prague Spring (1968–1970). In: Work - Movement - History , Volume II / 2017, pp. 128–144.
  42. ^ Ernst Fischer : No romantics in Prague. In: New forum. Issue 173, 5/1968, p. 284.
  43. Surprise on the Austrian side. on ORF , accessed on August 22, 2008.
  44. ^ Democracy Center - Asylum Policy , accessed on August 16, 2015.
  45. ^ "For your and our freedom" (protest on August 25, 1968) ,, August 24, 2018
  46. cf. Putin admits "moral responsibility" for the Prague Spring. In: March 2, 2006, accessed January 4, 2014 .
  47. Jump up ↑ Putin ’s history , TAZ, June 16, 2015