Socialism with a human face

Friday, August 23, 2013

Under the bleak tent of Communism in this country, there was a period in 1968 from Jan. 5 to Aug. 21 where things seemed slightly illuminated. A guy named Alexabder Dubcek was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and his slogan was "Socialism with a human face." In other words, he favored easing up on restrictions on speech, media and travel. This period is known as "Prague Spring."

Well, the Soviets didn't like this too much and they sent a bevvy of tanks and Warsaw Pact troops over to squash the reforms. Dubcek was arrested and hauled to Moscow, and dozens of people were killed in the chaos that ensued.

There was a memorial exhibit on Wenceslas Square a couple of days ago to commemorate Prague Spring, and it was very moving.

Memorial items with the National Museum in the background
Plaque dedicated to two students who committed suicide by self-immolation in protest of Communism
A Red Cross Skoda that was at the scene of the turmoil that occurred during the Soviet tank invasion 
A tank from the occupation with a film reel playing in the background
Photo exhibit of the invasion
Children playing near the memorial
There were a lot of older Czechs at the memorial who must have been children or young adults during Prague Spring. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to live through a long, dark string of Communism and then have a fleeting taste of liberty only to endure another military clampdown. Mind-bending.

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